Elsa Hedling

Elsa Hedling


Elsa Hedling

Leaderisation in foreign policy: performing the role of EU High Representative


  • Lisbeth Aggestam
  • Elsa Hedling

Summary, in English

This article examines how the mediatised context of foreign policy provides new opportunities for political leaders to both frame and project their own leadership role to new audiences. The past ten years have witnessed a sharp rise in political leaders’ use of new social media to communicate on a range of foreign policy issues. We argue that this new media context of foreign policy, combined with a bolstered leadership mandate, has been central to the construction of a more visible public leadership role for the EU High Representative in the post-Lisbon era. Departing from recent scholarship on performative leadership and new media in International Relations theory, we develop an original theoretical framework drawing on Erving Goffman’s dramaturgy of impression management. We employ the concept of “leaderisation” to analyse how mediatisation shapes the leadership process in terms of personification and drama to enable new forms of interaction with followers. We apply this framework in an illustrative case study focusing on the process of negotiating the EU Global Strategy. This diplomatic process provided the High Representative Mogherini with a stage on which she could frame herself in a central leadership position vis-à-vis European citizens to mobilise greater legitimacy for the EU as a global actor.


  • Political Science


  • leaderisation
  • leadership
  • foreign policy
  • EU
  • public diplomacy
  • new social media




  • Digital Diplomacy in a Turbulent Global World


  • ISSN: 1746-1545