From Public Relations to Corporate Public Diplomacy

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper illustrates several factors that make corporate public diplomacy a fundamentally different approach to activities that aim at legitimacy alone. A case study of a suspended Chinese hydropower project (i.e., the Myitsone Dam) in northern Myanmar is presented to address the functional differences and their implications for corporate practice. In particular, it illustrates how public resistance can prevent the success of direct foreign investments despite favorable agreements with host governments; also, it shows that corporate public diplomacy can be used to develop sustainable win-win solutions supported by the general public. While existing research suggests that an important function of public relations is to create a perception of legitimacy and that the hope of economic and commercial public diplomacy is to create a perception of attractiveness among the public in foreign countries, this paper suggests that the concept of corporate public diplomacy – that is, collaboration with the general public in a host country through negotiations directly with civic society – should be considered a supplement to other forms of corporate diplomacy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)605-614
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017
EventNational Communication Association 101st Annual Convention: Embracing Opportunities - Rio Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, United States
Duration: 19 Nov 201522 Nov 2015


ConferenceNational Communication Association 101st Annual Convention
LocationRio Hotel & Casino
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLas Vegas


  • Chinese direct foreign investment
  • Corporate public diplomacy
  • Myitsone Dam
  • grassroots movements
  • legitimacy
  • transnational corporations

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