Trusted intermediaries: Macmillan, Kennedy and their ambassadors

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Studying trust at the international level is one of the greatest challenges for trust studies. In this article I seek to expand on work which has sought to study trust between states in a way which avoids anthropomorphising the state, and retains the salience of interpersonal trust. To do this, I consider trust between states as existing in a web of relationships, from relationships between government figures, to military personnel, to members of society. In this article I demonstrate the value of incorporating actors beyond leaders in the most minimal sense: through including boundary spanners, those whose relationships and interactions span across boundaries, whether those boundaries be state borders or segments of government and society. Furthermore, I seek to begin a process of categorising the types of roles that boundary spanners can play in the development of trust between states. To illustrate their impact, I deploy a multidimensional approach to trust which is used to assess the relationship between leaders, and the impact of intermediary figures on both trust between the leaders, and in the relationships developed between the intermediary and their respective leader. One case study is used to exemplify the utility of this approach: the relationship between Harold Macmillan and John F. Kennedy and their respective official ambassadors David Ormsby-Gore and David Bruce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-284
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Relations
Issue number2
Early online date16 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Anglo-American relations
  • boundary spanner
  • diplomacy
  • trust


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