An Eastern European country that had regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1999—and thereafter joined the EU, NATO, and the euro area—sought to gain accession as a member state to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the intergovernmental economic body founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. With OECD membership correlating to high democratic and economic achievement, the organization’s rigorous accession process required wide-ranging structural reforms that promised significant economic, investment, social well-being, and good governance benefits to the country, further consolidating its integration into Western and international institutions.
While the country had made important progress on key OECD standards and best practices such as in the areas of environment, economic policy, and trade, significant challenges remained that were identified by the OECD, including improving corporate governance of state-owned enterprises and complying with requirements of the OECD’s anti-bribery convention. To address these challenges, the country’s political leadership and business community sought our firm’s support in developing an effective strategy to help build domestic and international support to implement the necessary reforms required for its OECD accession.
From our experience, Blue Star Strategies knew that an effective approach to securing an invitation to join the OECD would require bringing the country’s political leadership together with its business community. To that end, Blue Star Strategies created a comprehensive engagement and communications strategy to align the public and private sectors in support of this goal. Blue Star Strategies also understood that public opinion was a valuable tool in raising support for OECD membership and recommended a media strategy to reach the country’s public to explain how OECD membership could improve the economic prospects of its citizens.
Working with a former high-level OECD official, Blue Star Strategies consulted officials in the government and the OECD to gather reliable intelligence on the obstacles to the country’s accession. Blue Star turned this intelligence into an actionable plan to increase the likelihood of accession. We began by facilitating high-level meetings between business and government leaders to educate key leaders on OECD accession and to ensure that both groups were working in tandem to address outstanding issues.
Blue Star Strategies also engaged with local partner institutions on-the-ground in the country to help shape the public debate on OECD membership, including placing op-eds and interviews in major media outlets. Using our senior-level connections and deep in-country experience, Blue Star Strategies also arranged meetings between business and government leaders to ensure strategic alignment and coordinated efforts to meet the demands of OECD membership.
Blue Star Strategies' approach of engaging both the public and private sector was successful in enabling the country to overcome its obstacles and to enter the OECD. The OECD Council invited the country to join the organization by a unanimous vote. This decision paved the way for an important milestone in the country’s post-Soviet development and its integration into the European community and Western democracies.
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