Evaluation of Diplomacy, Trade and International Assistance Coherence in the Asia-Pacific Branch, 2015-16 to 2020-21

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Evaluation Report
Prepared by the Evaluation Division (PRA)
Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
December 17, 2021

Table of Contents

Initialisms and acronyms

Assistant Deputy Minister
International Business Development, Investment and Innovation Branch
Canada-based staff
Canada Fund for Local Initiatives
Canadian International Development Agency
Civil society organization
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Director general
Expert Deployment Mechanism
Feminist International Assistance Policy
Foreign Policy and Diplomatic Services
Full-time equivalent
Heads of mission
International Security
Locally engaged staff
Global Issues and Development Branch
Management summary report
Americas Branch
Operations and maintenance
Official Development Assistance Act
Other government department
Asia-Pacific Branch
Strategic Policy Branch
Evaluation and Results Bureau
Peace and Stabilization Operations Program
Sustainable Development Goals
Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch
Sub-Saharan Africa Branch

Executive summary

This thematic evaluation of the Asia-Pacific Branch (OGM) examined coherence across business lines, that is, diplomacy, trade and international assistance, from 2015-16 to 2020-21. It is the third in a series of 4 geographical coherence evaluations. Its main objectives were to provide an assessment of the extent to which OGM operated in a coordinated and coherent manner and to examine the factors that either fostered or hindered the ability of streams to collaborate when mandates and outcomes were shared.

The evaluation found that streams frequently collaborated on joint files, with several examples of cross-stream collaboration identified. Diplomacy was a natural partner for most streams when collaboration was expected or desired. Staff in the Asia-Pacific Branch valued coherence but also underestimated the willingness of others to collaborate on joint initiatives. Staff also reported that joint initiatives led to the achievement of outcomes that could not have been achieved without the contribution of other streams, thus confirming the added value of collaboration. Three main types of impacts resulted from cross-stream initiatives: 1) the emergence of a culture of coherence and collaboration across the department; 2) increased efficiencies; and 3) the achievement of departmental and stream-specific impacts.

“Leadership,” “capacity and expertise” and “organizational structure” were the most important factors that determined the level of collaboration within the Asia-Pacific Branch. Some of main lesson learned for these 3 factors included:

Summary of recommendations

  1. OGM should identify tangible cross-stream initiatives and provide guidance to staff to ensure that collaboration across the streams materializes.
  2. OGM should increase the knowledge that its various streams have of one another.
  3. OGM should establish incentives to further motivate staff to engage in joint initiatives.

Program background

Background: Coherence

Key definition of coherence

Coherence is an enabler, not an end goal or objective to be achieved. It does not only mean collaboration across business lines. Rather, it reflects a system where each business line:

As there are no explicit objectives, indicators or targets outlined by the department or the Branch for coherence, the evaluation will not take a traditional approach of assessing activities against performance indicators.

Introduction to evaluating coherence

In the context of an evolving global landscape, there is a growing need for integrated policy advice and coordinated programming to deliver on departmental priorities effectively and efficiently. Coherence has been identified as an enabler to facilitate Global Affairs Canada’s ability to deliver in this evolving environment. As a result, there is increasing interest in assessing the extent to which the department has been able to break silos and create the necessary conditions for increased coherence across its main business lines, namely diplomacy, trade and international assistance.

To support senior management in understanding the state of coherence in the department and specifically across the 3 business lines, the evaluation team has committed to a suite of evaluations related to coherence within the geographic branches. This evaluation focuses on the Asia-Pacific Branch (OGM). The Sub-Saharan Africa (WGM) and the Americas (NGM) branches were evaluated in the last 2 years, and the Europe, Arctic, Middle East and Maghreb Branch (EGM) will be evaluated next year. The 4 geographic bureaus will be evaluated successively, culminating in a meta evaluation in the final year.

Definition of coherence

The concept of coherence has gained prominence due to a recognition of the growing complexity and interconnectedness of global challenges. As the concept has been used to describe various policy and programming approaches, there is no one standard definition of what coherence entails. To provide consistency for the eventual meta evaluation, the following definition was established:

Coherence is an enabler for identifying and leveraging synergies across diplomacy, trade and international assistance, ultimately contributing to increased efficiency and better results in Canada’s international engagement.


The Asia-Pacific Region

Figure: Map of the Asia-Pacific region.

Figure: Map of the Asia-Pacific region.
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The Asia-Pacific is home to

60% of the world’s population and

46% of the global economy, and accounts for over

10% of Canada’s global trade.

The Asia-Pacific is a dynamic region of diverse actors

The Asia-Pacific region is a dynamic space of diverse actors where trade, international assistance, diplomacy and security interests converge. Key regional security, economic, environmental and geopolitical challenges, compounded by China’s increasingly assertive posturing in the region, present opportunities for Canada to diversify its partnerships and recalibrate relations and cooperation with other partners.

In the coming years, several evolving factors may affect Canada’s engagement in the region. Growing authoritarian capitalism may constrain foreign competition, the rule of law and human rights. The strategic tensions between the United States and China may lead to further uncertainty and instability, with repercussions throughout the region. Canada-China bilateral tensions may have negative ramifications for Canadian interests with other countries in the region. Regional tensions, sub-national conflict and environmental disasters have created precarious conditions for millions of people. Over and above existing factors, the impact of COVID-19 is yet to be determined. These trends and issues cross trade, diplomacy and international assistance in a variety of ways. As such, generating insights into the extent of policy and programming coherence in the Asia-Pacific region will aim to support decision-makers in advancing strategies for Canadian engagement in the region.

About Asia and Canada-Asia relations

Strong regional forums: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) and East Asia Summit.

The region is subject to 70% of the world’s natural disasters, which have affected more than 1.6 billion people since 2000. Infrastructure needs will exceed $26 trillion by 2030, when accounting for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Regional security threats and sub-national posturing by China in the region, and the ongoing Rohingya crisis, continue to influence regional dynamics. Other key regional issues include protracted conflict in Afghanistan (the largest single recipient of aid from Canada), North Korea’s ballistic-missile program, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the prevalence of human trafficking, and an increasingly assertive Myanmar and Bangladesh.

More than 572,000 foreign students came to Canada to study in 2020, with 4 of the 5 top countries found in Asia (India, China, South Korea, Vietnam). Canadian direct investment in Asia rose by 8.7% between 2014-18 and foreign direct investment from Asia in Canada rose by 2.7% in the same period.

Key Asia-Pacific Branch priorities

Branch profile

Human and financial resources

2020-21 Human resources

Figure 1. Number of FTEs by bureau, 2020-21

Figure 1. Number of FTEs by bureau, 2020-21
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HQ: 79

Mission: 199


HQ: 57

Mission: 409


HQ: 42

Mission: 173

Figure 2. Proportion of FTEs at mission and headquarters, 2020-21

Figure 2. Proportion of FTEs at mission and headquarters, 2020-21
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LES: 560

CBS: 232

Headquarters: 183

Figure 3. Breakdown of FTEs by bureau and streams at mission, 2020-21

Figure 1. Number of FTEs by bureau, 2020-21
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HOM support:43

Trade: 66

Diplomacy: 41

Consular: 13

Development: 36


HOM support: 46

Trade: 204

Diplomacy: 96

Consular: 61

Development: 2


HOM support: 50

Trade: 85

Diplomacy: 15

Consular: 9

Development: 14

Human resources, 2016-17 to 2019-20

Between 2016-17 and 2019-20, the number of full-time equivalents (FTEs) increased by 9%, from 893 to 940. Figure 4 reflects actual FTEs reported at year end.

Human resources, 2020-21

OGM information, available as of October 2020, listed a total of 975 FTEs. OPD is the largest bureau in the Branch, with 466 FTEs, including 409 employees in 17 missions (Figure 1).

When considering the allocation of human resources at missions by business line, trade officers represent 45% of all resources; Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service (FPDS) 19%; consular officers 11%; and development officers 7% (Figure 3). This suggests a significant focus on trade activities, particularly in North Asia and Oceania, the sub-region overseen by OPD.

Figure 4. Asia-Pacific Branch FTEs, 2016-17 to 2019-20

Figure 4. Asia-Pacific Branch FTEs, 2016-17 to 2019-20
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LES: 516

CBS: 377


LES: 522

CBS: 377


LES: 519

CBS: 394


LES: 537

CBS: 403

Financial resources

The Branch’s financial resources were variable in the period between 2016-17 and 2020-21. Notably, there was a significant budget cut in 2017-18 for salary, operating and maintenance (O&M) expenses (Figure 5) as well as in overall funding for grants and contributions (G&C) (Figure 6). However, salary and O&M have more than doubled since then, whereas G&C funding increased significantly in 2018-19 but has since trended downward.

Figure 5. Salary and operation & maintenance,2016-17 to 2020-21

Figure 5. Salary and operation & maintenance, 2016-17 to 2020-21
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2021 (initial allocation)


Figure 6. Grants and contributions, 2016-2017 to 2020-2021

Figure 6. Grants and contributions, 2016-2017 to 2020-2021
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2021 (initial allocation)


Evaluation scope and methodology

Strategic considerations for coherence

Conduct of the evaluation

The evaluation was conducted internally by the Evaluation Division (PRA), with the support of 2 independent consultants. One of the consultants worked on developing and conducting a survey of OGM staff. The other consultant supported the drafting of 1 of the 4 cases studies realized as part of the evaluation.

Methodological approach

The evaluation used a mixed-method approach, which involved triangulation across lines of evidence to provide more robust findings. The report has 2 levels of analysis: general insight into coherence within the Branch and in-depth analysis of tangible examples of coherence using case studies.

Seeing that there are multiple interpretations of coherence, that it is a dynamic and evolving concept, and that coherence is not an end goal but rather an enabler of greater outcomes, the evaluation took an exploratory approach in its assessment. It integrated elements of appreciative inquiry and goal-free evaluation to generate findings.

To provide rigour and comparability, the evaluation included an organizational factor framework that built on the work conducted in the previous 2 evaluations. The organizational factors helped generate insights into the conditions that enabled coherence within the Branch, with specific emphasis on the elements that contributed to successful coordination of efforts in the case studies.

Appreciative inquiry is an approach to organizational change that focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses. The objective is to build future success by appreciating and understanding what works best and why. The evaluation applied principles of appreciative inquiry to identify good practices for the department.

Goal-free evaluation is an approach where the objectives and outcomes of a program are not known in advance of the evaluation. In this evaluation, the principles of goal-free evaluation (GFE) have been taken into consideration by organizing evidence without a clear target or expectation in mind. This allowed the evaluators to explore Branch activities without being constrained by performance expectations. The aim was to create space for unintended effects to emerge.

Organizational factor framework builds on the foundation developed in the first 2 evaluations of policy and programming coherence. It refines 5 organizational factors identified as enabling conditions for coherence: policy alignment, organizational structure, Branch leadership, capacity and expertise, and corporate systems. Each factor consists of multiple dimensions, which are further defined by a 3-point scale.

Evaluation scope and objectives

Evaluation scope

The evaluation focused on policy and programming coherence among the 3 business lines (“streams”) of diplomacy, trade and international assistance in the Asia-Pacific Branch. More specifically, it explored how expertise was leveraged across these business lines, both at headquarters and in the Canadian missions in the region.

Although the emphasis of the evaluation was on OGM activities, it also considered the broader scope of programming in the Asia-Pacific region. Where relevant, the scope included activities conducted by other branches, including Trade Policy and Negotiations (TFM), International Business Investment and Innovation (BFM), Global Issues and Development (MFM), and International Security and Political Affairs (IFM). The evaluation covered the period from 2015-16 to 2020-21.

The following elements were excluded from the evaluation scope to calibrate the level of efforts with the resources available to conduct the evaluation:

Evaluation objectives

Evaluation issueQuestionSub-question(s)
EffectivenessQ1. To what extent has OGM put in place the conditions to foster coherence among the main business lines?
  • What factors influence OGM’s ability to foster coherence?
  • To what extent has OGM adopted joint planning, priority-setting and coordination of policies and programs across business lines?
ResultsQ2. What are the benefits of coherence efforts in the branch?
  • How has the branch’s approach to coherence fostered added value to its international engagement?
  • Are there any unintended effects, positive or negative, of coherence?

Emergence of a stable coherence measurement framework

The measurement of coherence has evolved based on lessons learned from 2 previous evaluations.

1. Sub-Saharan Africa Branch

This first coherence evaluation was a learning opportunity and denoted the challenge of defining coherence and measuring its contribution to improved results across diplomacy, trade and international assistance. The evaluation assessed the degree to which key elements of organizational coherence (policy alignment, organizational structure, branch leadership, corporate systems, roles and responsibilities, and communications) were in place within the branch to enable effective coordination and collaboration across business lines.

The evaluation identified 4 key coherence areas across business lines: diplomacy-trade, diplomacy-international assistance, trade-international assistance and diplomacy-trade-international assistance.

The identification of cross-stream initiatives was not the focus of the evaluation, so the exercise provided only limited examples of joint initiatives.

Visual for “1. Sub-Saharan Africa Branch

2. Americas Branch

Building on the work of the first evaluation, this evaluation focused on coherence across diplomacy, trade and international assistance, and identified 4 coherence areas: diplomacy-trade, diplomacy-international assistance, trade-international assistance and diplomacy-trade-international assistance. This evaluation had a particular focus on 3 issues: coherence in programming and results, organizational coherence, and delivery models to strengthen coherence.

The evaluation developed a scorecard to assess factors of organizational coherence (policy alignment, organizational structure, branch leadership, corporate systems, and communications). The definition of coherence was updated.

Efforts were made to document cross-stream initiatives and therefore assess whether coherence was being achieved.

Visual for “2. Americas Branch

3. Asia-Pacific Branch

The third coherence evaluation has refocused on the key organizational factors and conditions that enabled policy and programming coherence (policy alignment, organizational structure, branch leadership, corporate systems, and capacity and expertise). Coherence factors have been streamlined by removing 2 factors to address lessons learned from the Americas coherence evaluation. One new factor was added: capacity and expertise. The measurement framework for the organizational factors has been revised and updated to include new indicators to measure each factor. This new framework features an updated concept of coherence which now includes 2 principal dimensions: collaboration and coherence thinking. Coherence with other branches was also explored.

Cross-stream initiatives have been systematically identified and new indicators were used to assess whether coherence was being achieved.

Visual for “3. Asia Pacific Branch


To maximize the possibility of generating useful, valid and meaningful findings, the evaluation used a mixed-method approach, wherein both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. Extensive use of triangulation was undertaken as an analytical method, in which data from multiple lines of evidence were examined to help corroborate findings. The methods listed below were deemed to be the most appropriate ones to answer the evaluation questions, based on data availability and project imperatives.

Key stakeholder interviews

A total of 101 interviews were conducted using semi-structured guides. Most interviewees were OGM employees in executive positions, including heads of mission in selected missions. The following data show the number of interviewees:

The following 8 missions were included in the sample: BNGKK, CLMBO, DELHI, HANOI, HKONG, ISBAD, SEOUL and TOKYO.

Literature review

Review of academic literature, partner-country publications and other secondary documentation:

Administrative and document review

Review of internal Global Affairs Canada documentation:

Case studies

Four case studies were performed for an in-depth analysis of collaboration in various coherence areas, to ensure rich and useful data for senior management. In consultations with OGM, the following case studies were completed:


The survey provided an overview of OGM employees’ perception of various dimensions of coherence. This method also helped to systematically identify cross-stream initiatives conducted in the Asia-Pacific Branch over the last 5 years.

The survey was distributed to all OGM Canada-based staff (CBS) and locally engaged staff (LES) at headquarters and missions in the FS, EC, PM and EX job classifications. Of a list of 685 OGM employees, 390 completed the survey, for a response rate of 57%. The evaluation innovated by conducting multivariate analyzes on the survey results.

The survey method was valid because the minimum sample size was respected, allowing us to generate meaningful results. By “meaningful,” we mean that the survey had a margin of error of less than 5% and therefore a confidence degree of 95%.

Evaluation limitations and mitigation measures

LimitationsMitigation measures
Limited availability of administrative and performance data
Because coherence evaluations cover issues that cut across programs and branches, there is a scarcity of administrative and performance data. As a result, findings are primarily grounded in qualitative data.
  • The qualitative evidence collected as part of the evaluation was systematically triangulated with other lines of evidence
  • A multivariate analysis was performed with the survey results, which provided robust data about the views of OGM staff
Executive bias in key informant interviewees
Almost all key informant interviews were conducted with senior management (i.e. director level and up, including several heads of mission). As such, interview results mainly depict the views of management. Despite the relative homogeneity of the interviewee group, interview results were generally aligned with findings from other lines of evidence.
  • The survey was designed to allow for the disaggregation of data by position (i.e. executives vs. non-executives). This provided the unique perspective of non-executives, which, in turn, helped mitigate this limitation
  • A multivariate analysis was performed with the survey results, which provide robust data about the views of non-executives
  • When findings from interviews were considered in the analysis, precautions were taken to ensure that this bias was considered
Capturing the full picture of Canada’s presence in the Asia-Pacific
Canada’s presence in the region included many missions with a diversity of unique features. This created challenges in terms of capturing all the instances of cross-stream collaboration that took place in the region over the period covered by the evaluation.
  • A sample of missions was selected in collaboration with the Asia-Pacific Branch. To ensure that the mission sample was representative of the diversity of Canada’s presence in the region, the sample was selected based on mission size, number of streams present at mission, the potential for joint initiatives, and the general nature of the host country’s bilateral relationship with Canada
  • All OGM staff were asked to provide examples of cross-stream collaboration when surveyed. This provided opportunities for staff located in missions excluded from the sample to identify additional cross-stream initiatives
Coherence: a convoluted concept for OGM staff
Based on the lessons learned from the previous coherence evaluations (i.e. Sub-Saharan Africa and Americas), evaluation participants may have differently interpreted the concept of coherence and associated ideas. A lack of common understanding of the concept being measured could have led to incorrect data and, consequently, unreliable findings.
  • All interview guides included, in the introduction, a clear definition of the concepts of coherence and joint initiatives. Similarly, the survey included the same information and clearly defined any other concepts or ideas when deemed necessary

Findings – Profile of collaboration within the Asia-Pacific Branch

Overview of coherence in the Asia-Pacific Branch

Figure 7: The 4 key coherence areas covered by the evaluation, excluding the Triple Nexus (development, humanitarian assistance, and peace and security)

Figure 7: The 4 key coherence areas covered by the evaluation, excluding the Triple Nexus (development, humanitarian assistance, and peace and security)
  1. Diplomacy and development
  2. Diplomacy and trade
  3. Development and trade
  4. All streams

Figure 8: Visual representation of the coherence measurement framework based on empirical evidence collected as part of the evaluation

Figure 8: Visual representation of the coherence measurement framework based on empirical evidence collected as part of the evaluation
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Figure 8: Visual representation of the coherence measurement framework based on empirical evidence collected as part of the evaluation that features leadership, organizational structure, capacity and expertise, and alignment of priorities, all pointing towards OGM coherence.

A culture of collaboration is emerging within OGM. Several examples of cross-stream initiatives were identified.

One of the main objectives of the evaluation was to provide an assessment of the extent to which OGM operated in a coordinated and coherent manner. The assessment was performed by 1) measuring the level and type of collaboration across streams, 2) asking OGM staff to share their perception of the value of working with other streams, and 3) examining the extent to which OGM messaging to external partners in the region was coherent.

Level of collaboration across the streams

The evaluation found that streams frequently collaborated on joint files. More specifically, OGM staff reported to have worked on an average of 2 joints files over the last 3 years. Moreover, a large proportion of survey participants—43% of OGM employees—reported to have worked on at least 4 or more cross-stream initiatives. The diplomacy stream (56%) and executives (77%) reported having worked on a least 4 joint files, the highest level of collaboration within the branch. Several examples of cross-stream collaborations were also identified as part of the 4 case studies, the survey open-ended questions and the key informant interviews. These findings suggest that a culture of coherence is emerging at OGM and across the department.

Findings from other lines of evidence complemented the survey results by providing several concrete examples of cross-stream collaboration. In fact, almost all interviewees were able to identify 1 or 2 examples of meaningful collaboration across the streams. Additionally, the case studies provided robust evidence that successful cross-stream initiatives have been delivered in the branch over the last 5 years. It must be noted, however, that although successful initiatives were identified, many evaluation participants also noted untapped coherence areas, where increased collaboration could lead to enhanced impacts. In light of this information, it appears that the efforts deployed by OGM senior management over the last 5 years to foster collaboration and coherence have yielded results.

Collaboration network across the streams

Figure 9. Diplomacy frequently works with all streams and programs, whereas limited collaboration is occurring between trade and development

Figure 9. Diplomacy frequently works with all streams and programs, whereas limited collaboration is occurring between trade and development
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Figure 9:


All: 66%

Current stream International assistance: 40%

Current stream Diplomacy: 66%

Current stream Trade: 79%


All: 77%

Current stream International assistance: 84%

Current stream Diplomacy: 82%

Current stream Trade: 73%


All: 31%

Current stream International assistance: 60%

Current stream Diplomacy: 39%

Current stream Trade: 12%


All: 12%

Current stream International assistance: 24%

Current stream Diplomacy: 14%

Current stream Trade: 4%

Peace & Security

All: 14%

Current stream International assistance: 16%

Current stream Diplomacy: 23%

Current stream Trade: 7%

Interpretation of the degree of significance

When the degree is significant, it confirms the assumption that there is a positive or a negative relationship between independent and dependent variables, 95% of the time. In other words, there is a less than 5% probability that there is no significant relationship between 2 variables. This is known as the “degree of significance” or “P-Value (p).”

Key collaboration networks within and outside the Asia-Pacific Branch

This section relies primarily on the results of a regression analysis, which provided robust evidence that helped to measure and qualify the relationships across the different streams. This analysis was complemented by triangulating these results with data from other lines of evidence. While the results stemming from the regression analysis were expected given the insight provided by previous coherence evaluations, the robustness of the evidence it generated could not have been achieved by relying solely on qualitative data analysis. The analysis showed the following results:

OGM staff’s perception of coherence

Figure 10. Staff in all 3 streams reporting that they personally value working on joint files

Figure 10. Staff in all 3 streams reporting that they personally value working on joint files
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Figure 10:


Agree: 85%

Do not agree: 15%


Agree: 89%

Do not agree: 11%


Agree: 88%

Do not agree: 13%

Figure 11. Perception that other staff within their own stream value working on joint files

Figure 11. Perception that other staff within their own stream value working on joint files
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Figure 11:


Agree: 71%

Do not agree: 29%


Agree: 79%

Do not agree: 21%


Agree: 71%

Do not agree: 29%

Figure 12. Perception that other staff outside of their own stream value working on joint files

Figure 12. Perception that other staff outside of their own stream value working on joint files
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Figure 12


Agree: 55%

Do not agree: 45%


Agree: 63%

Do not agree: 37%


Agree: 56%

Do not agree: 44%

OGM staff from all 3 streams underestimated the willingness of others to collaborate on joint initiatives. Coherence of communication with external partners could be improved to ensure that Canada speaks with one voice.

OGM staff views on the value of coherence

Overall, 87% of OGM staff stated that they personally value joint initiatives. This proportion significantly drops when survey participants are assessing staff in their own stream or outside their stream (see Figures 11 and 12). These results suggest that staff underestimate the appetite of colleagues outside of their streams to work on joint files.

Coherence of Canada’s external messaging in the Asia-Pacific region

The consistency of Global Affairs Canada’s messaging to outside partners was also used as a proxy metric to assess the level of coordination and coherence within the region. Mixed results were noted across the streams:

Findings – Impacts of coherence

Typology of joint initiatives

Expert Deployment Mechanism (EDM) for Trade and Development in brief

The EDM provides capacity building and independent technical assistance to developing countries in exploratory talks or in trade and investment negotiations with Canada and at the implementation phase. This mechanism links development and trade policy through a development fund for ODA eligible countries that supports the advancement of the Canada-ASEAN FTA.

EDM responds to ASEAN member countries’ key demand for technical assistance presented in preliminary discussions for a potential Canada-ASEAN FTA. This funding mechanism can help address issues that are of concern to developing country trade partners, a group which will continue to grow in importance in relation to Canada’s trade diversification interests.

OGM undertook 4 types of joint initiatives. The provision of expertise and the delivery of Global Affairs Canada flagship initiatives have yielded the strongest impacts.

The evaluation closely examined the impacts stemming from cross-stream collaboration with the purpose of assessing the added value of working in a coherent manner.

Staff’s perception of the contribution of other streams on successful impacts

OGM staff recognized the contribution of other streams in the success of joint projects, as a large number of OGM staff (82%) agreed that the contribution of other streams was instrumental in achieving project results. Interestingly, disaggregated data shows there was little variation across the different groups regarding the contribution of other streams. This finding suggests that the same level of impacts could not have been achieved in the absence of cross-stream collaboration.

Typology of joint initiatives

Overall, a mosaic of joint initiatives was identified as part of the evaluation. These initiatives and activities varied depending on a series of factors such as 1) the level of integration of the initiative, 2) the presence (or absence) of key drivers for coherence, and 3) their complexity and their duration in time. The qualitative analysis identified the following types of initiatives, from the lowest level of integration across the streams to the highest:

  1. Senior management briefings and preparation of Cabinet documentation
    • integrated and coordinated approach for Minister of Foreign Affairs briefings, Cabinet documents, and any briefing that involves multiple streams
  2. Joint ad hoc events
    • joint advocacy events and/or policy dialogue with common partners on topics of shared interest, anniversaries of bilateral relationships, senior official visits and trade shows
  3. Provision of stream-specific expertise, knowledge and network to support decision-making
    • COVID response, trade advice provided to development on the Canadian Trade and investment Facility for Development (CTIF) and an infrastructure program, leveraging of networks of contacts, engaging in joint advocacy outreach, and SEED scholarship and EduCanada
  4. Delivery of Global Affairs Canada priorities or flagship initiatives for the Asia-Pacific region
    • Advancement of the Canada-ASEAN FTA, Rohingya response, United Nations Social Campaign, opening of mission in Fiji and Kolkata trade office, coordination of Canada’s whole-of-government approach on China, and the Indo-Pacific strategy

Impacts stemming from joint initiatives

Figure 13. All streams reporting on whether cross-stream collaboration leads to increased efficiencies

Figure 13. All streams reporting on whether cross-stream collaboration leads to increased efficiencies
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Figure 13:


Agree: 72%

Do not agree: 28%


Agree: 70%

Do not agree: 30%


Agree: 80%

Do not agree: 20%

Coherence thinking

“Coherence thinking” is an approach used to consider and understand interrelationships, rather than viewing them in isolation. In the context of organizational coherence, this approach can help to identify cross-stream synergies or shared priorities found in coherence areas. Coherence thinking does not simply result in cross stream collaboration, but instead results in being able to anticipate, incorporate and envision the positioning of other streams. It can support areas such as planning and programming, as well as international partnerships and relationships. The “leadership” organizational factor was found to play a pivotal role in enabling coherence thinking.

Cross-stream initiatives have resulted in strong impacts and increased efficiencies that could not have been achieved through a siloed approach.

Key impacts - The following 3 categories of impacts were identified:

1) Emergence of a culture of coherence thinking and collaboration across the department

2) Increased efficiencies

3) Enhanced impacts (DRF, mandate letters)

The evidence suggests that cross-stream collaboration contributed to furthering the achievement of Departmental Results Framework (DRF) expected outcomes as well as ministerial mandate letter commitments. Additionally, there is strong evidence that cross-stream collaboration was a key mechanism that strengthened the ability of each stream to achieve their stream-specific objectives. While a large diversity of impacts was identified, the following 4 general types of impacts were the most frequently reported by evaluation participants:

Impacts – Trade and development

Trade and development coherence area

The evaluation found the following trade and development nexus points where trade and development share synergies:

Figure: Intersection of Development and Trade Focal Points
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[Figure: Intersection of Development and Trade Focal Points]

The approach to furthering the Canada-ASEAN FTA illustrated that the department made significant progress in breaking down silos across streams and branches. It also illustrated the strong added value that cross-stream collaboration can generate.

A review of the documentation covering the trade and development nexus provided ample evidence of the rationale for and advantages of the 2 streams working collaboratively to achieve departmental outcomes, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other international commitments. However, almost all the examples of trade and development initiatives identified in the literature focused on multilateral programming (e.g. WTO) or bilateral development programs with very limited integration between the streams. To provide insights about how the development and trade nexus can be operationalized in the Canadian context and to better understand OGM’s key achievements on this front, a case study of the most integrated approach to cross-stream collaboration—a Canada-ASEAN FTA—was undertaken (see Appendix C for full list of achievements).

Advancement of a Canada-ASEAN FTA – key achievements

The Canada-ASEAN FTA initiative has provided a focus point for all 3 business lines to leverage and advance a bilateral relationship with the ASEAN Secretariat and its member states, and to demonstrate Canada’s interests in the region. The evidence suggests that a Canada-ASEAN FTA would not have advanced to the point it has had it not been for cross-stream and cross-branch collaboration and considerations. Adapting trade negotiations with least-developed countries (LDCs) to new circumstances has led to key achievements in the trade and development nexus, including the following:

Impacts – Diplomacy and the other streams

Diplomacy and trade – coherence area

Diplomacy and trade – missed opportunities

Some interviewees noted missed opportunities for further collaboration across trade and diplomacy, including:

Several missed opportunities for collaboration between trade and diplomacy were identified as part of the evaluation, particularly in large missions.

Diplomacy and trade

Findings from the key informant interviews showed that trade and diplomacy usually coordinated their key decisions, policies and initiatives at the strategic level. However, very few examples of cross-stream initiatives were reported by evaluation participants at the operational level. The main examples of collaboration in this nexus area included:

Diplomacy and development

The evaluation documented several examples of joint initiatives between diplomacy and development. More specifically, the case studies on the Rohingya response, the Canada-ASEAN FTA and the Mongolia extractive sector clearly outlined the benefits and challenges of collaboration between these 2 streams (see Appendix C for details on impacts).

Findings – Leadership


Mechanisms to support coherence thinking

Tools supporting coherence thinking

Leadership was found to be the primary factor in terms of its impact on coherence, and superseded all other organizational factors.

Strong evidence indicated that the “leadership” organizational factor was key in fostering cross-stream coordination, collaboration and communication at all levels. This factor was also found to be pivotal in creating and allowing space for staff to think strategically and creatively across streams to generate new and innovative approaches to joint initiatives.

The coherence evaluation framework defined 5 key dimensions to measure the leadership factor:

A sixth factor emerged from the data analysis: the role of middle-management as a factor of success to achieved coherence.

Integrated annual strategic planning

One of the main goals of the evaluation was to better understand the mechanisms used by senior management at missions to define shared priorities and identify tangible joint initiatives. In this regard, the interview data showed that the annual planning process was the main mechanism through which coherence thinking materialized at mission. However, the interview data showed that each stream’s level of participation in the annual planning process varied across missions and that there was no standardized approach for the integration of streams in missions. These observations were echoed by survey findings which indicated that 69% of executives reported that the planning process included other streams. These results suggest that room for improvement exist in terms of fostering coherence thinking as part of the annual planning process.

Evidence showed that the participation of multiple streams in the integrated annual planning cycle did not guarantee that coherence thinking on the part of senior management would lead to tangible joint initiatives at the working level. When leadership did not identify a joint initiative as a priority, other organizational factors determined if an opportunity for cross-stream collaboration would materialize. Other factors included:


Prioritization and guidance

Provision of the right guidance

Figure 14. Only one third of OGM staff from the diplomacy stream state that senior management provides guidance to staff regarding coherence

Figure 14. Only one third of OGM staff from the diplomacy stream state that senior management provides guidance to staff regarding coherence
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Figure 14:


Agree: 41%

Do not agree: 59%


Agree: 34%

Do not agree: 66%


Agree: 43%

Do not agree: 57%

OGM senior management showed leadership in coordinating the response to the Uyghur issue

GAC’s comprehensive response to the treatment of Uyghurs consisted of sanctions, the promotion of Uyghur culture, and the first invocation of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement’s prohibition of the importation of goods produced by forced labour. This response required approval from both MINA and MINT and was deemed a success by some evaluation participants.

The success of joint initiatives was in large part determined by the direction and guidance provided by senior management to staff.

Identification of joint initiatives by senior management

As noted in the previous sections, the evaluation identified several instances of successful joint initiatives as well as several missed opportunities in key coherence areas. There was also evidence that in the case of mandated joint initiatives, management provided clear direction to staff by proposing tangible joint initiatives. However, only 51% of OGM staff believed that senior management (i.e., ADM, HOM, DG levels) tried to identify joint priorities across the 3 streams. These mixed results converged with other lines of evidence, which noted that coherence may be centralized in a few clusters of collaboration within the branch, thus explaining the split views on this element of the coherence framework.

Prioritization of coherence by senior management

The evaluation also sought to better understand how OGM staff perceived how coherence ranked in terms of OGM senior management priorities. While there is strong evidence to suggest that senior management valued coherence and were making efforts to foster coherence within OGM, only a small proportion—39%—of OGM staff felt that coherence ranked high among senior management priorities. This could indicate that coherence thinking occurs primarily at the strategic level. Results from the multivariate regression analysis showed that OGM prioritization of coherence was perceived more positively by 1) the development and trade streams, 2) staff at mission rather than at HQ, and 3) smaller-sized missions that had fewer than 50 staff. Surprisingly, diplomacy staff felt that senior management did not prioritize coherence despite their strong involvement in joint initiatives.

Provision of guidance to staff

The evaluation found that senior management did not provide sufficient guidance on what coherence meant in practical terms. Within OGM, only 36% of staff believed that senior management provided the necessary guidance to engage in cross-stream collaboration. Interestingly, the diplomacy stream reported the lowest level of agreement despite its frequent collaboration with other streams. The data presented in Figure 14, for its part, indicates that both trade and development did not feel that they were provided with the right guidance to deliver joint initiatives. There is therefore evidence to suggest that the lack of guidance and the lack of tangible propositions by senior management were hurdles to the achievement of coherence. Case study findings suggested, however, that when there was a clear signal and direction to prioritize joint initiatives, they tended to materialize. The strategic identification of joint initiatives via effective integrated planning was primarily observed in the case of mandated joint initiatives such as the advancement of a Canada-ASEAN FTA, the Rohingya response and the SEED scholarships initiatives. Strong leadership in this context provided clarity and purpose, and effectively enabled coherence across complex organizational structures that at times included up to 3 branches, HQ and missions, and development program delivery models (i.e. centralized, decentralized).


Other factors

Staff perception regarding decision-making process

Figure 15. The three streams share a similar view of the extent to which the decision-making and approval processes foster joint initiatives

Figure 15. The three streams share a similar view of the extent to which the decision-making and approval processes foster joint initiatives
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Figure 15:


Agree: 38%

Do not agree: 62%


Agree: 40%

Do not agree: 60%


Agree: 31%

Do not agree: 69%

Figure 16. There is a strong gap in perception between non-executives and executives regarding the extent to which the decision-making and approval processes foster joint initiatives

Figure 16. There is a strong gap in perception between non-executives and executives regarding the extent to which the decision-making and approval processes foster joint initiatives
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Figure 16:


Agree: 28%

Do not agree: 72%


Agree: 71%

Do not agree: 29%

Middle management’s role in fostering coherence

The role of middle management (i.e. below HOM/DHOM and directors general) was found to play a central role in the success of joint initiatives. Non-mandated initiatives and staff proposals for joint initiatives (i.e. bottom-up ideas for collaboration) were reported to sometimes be inadequately considered by middle management. Simultaneously, employee workload, the lack of guidance from the department around the delivery of joint initiatives, the absence of incentives for collaboration, and cumbersome decision-making and approval processes deterred middle management from prioritizing coherence initiatives involving multiple streams. On this last point, only 33% of OGM staff indicated that current decision-making and approval processes supported coherence.

Conversely, the case studies showed that when there was an established middle-management-level coordination structure across branches and bureaus, processes were not barriers to collaboration. This was observed in the case study on the advancement of a Canada-ASEAN FTA, where a joint approval process was developed at the deputy director level to coordinate simultaneous approvals across a multi-divisional and multi-branch organizational structure in an effective manner.

Findings – Capacity and expertise


Skills and training

Figure 17. All streams report that incentives for working on joint files are not currently available

Figure 17. All streams report that incentives for working on joint files are not currently available
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Figure 17:


Agree: 24%

Do not agree: 76%


Agree: 21%

Do not agree: 79%


Agree: 25%

Do not agree: 75%

We are already inundated with training requests. It is really about getting people to talk and engage in discussions [with other streams].”

- Executive interviewee

Staff confidence in their skill sets for collaboration were high, but there may have been gaps in practical knowledge and competencies that hindered efforts for effective collaboration.  

The analysis framework established to measure coherence includes 2 new elements that pertain to capacity and expertise. The first element examines how OGM staff perceives their own ability to engage with other streams; the second covers all other potential barriers to coherence as it pertains to this factor.

Coherence-related skills

Overall, more than 70% of OGM staff reported having the skills required to engage in cross-stream collaboration. This was particularly the case for employees in the diplomacy stream and for executives. However, interview findings also pointed to 2 main critical gaps in OGM staff’s current skill set:

In terms of the preferred format for learning, most interviewees felt that in-class training had value but expressed preferences for on-the-job training activities such as cross-stream team building, coaching or cross-stream appointments.


The perception of several interviewees was that stream-specific experience and individual achievements were rewarded and contributed to career progression—a perception that could impede the impulse to collaborate. This perception was shared across the streams but particularly within the diplomacy stream. Interviewees suggested a few ways to incentivize staff, including:

Capacity and incentives

Flexible instruments

“There needs to be (…) more flexible instruments, like CFLI; beyond this there is nothing. We have country allocation every year. We have [amount confidential] of CFLI dollars; we can do about 4 or 5 small CFLI projects a year. I get more out of this than from the development program.”

- Executive interviewee

Financial resources in support of cross-stream initiatives

A review of the key sources of funding available to OGM highlighted the absence of specific resources dedicated to supporting joint initiatives. Most of the cross-stream initiatives studied as part of the evaluation were supported with stream-specific resources. The absence of funding was also found to limit, in some instances, staff’s willingness to engage in these types of initiatives.

The evaluation also found that some sources of funding that are not dedicated specifically to supporting coherence had a significant impact on the ability to deliver joint initiatives and bring streams together. The 2 examples identified are the EDM and the Crisis Pool (see Appendix C). The evidence shows that these 2 funding mechanisms allowed for flexibility, planning and program delivery. Overall, furthermore, they fostered more coherent and effective strategic approaches for new, quick and purposeful programming that enabled collaboration and coherence thinking. In this regard, the case studies found that in the absence of these 2 funding mechanisms, cross-stream initiatives would not have achieved the same level of success.

Capacity and workload

There was consensus among interviewees, including senior management, that the capacity issues that OGM experienced over the last 5 years was one of the main hindrances affecting coherence and willingness to engage with other streams. These views align with the results of the 2019-20 Risk at Mission report prepared by Corporate Planning Performance and Risk (SRD). For OGM, the risk analysis found the following:

Findings – Organizational structure

Organizational structure

Observation on the amalgamation of roles and responsibilities

The consensus on this topic is that the organizational integration node (DG, director or deputy director) should depend on a program’s scale and complexity and a manager’s reasonable span of control. In a very small program, all Global Affairs Canada functions could be combined at the director or deputy director levels, but for a large, complex program integration should be at the DG level.

Before amalgamation of the OAZ bureau

Getting advice that was not coherent was revealing of stovepipes. It makes decision-making and advice to senior management very difficult. There was wasted effort, from senior management perspective, objectives would never see light of day. It was terribly inefficient. Not necessarily duplication: effort was misaligned or misdirected. Time and money were being spent on pursuing objectives that were not proper, or that should never have been championed. A lot of spinning wheels.”

- Executive interviewee

The OGM’s organizational structure was not a significant barrier to coherence.

Survey participants had mixed opinions regarding the extent to which the current OGM structure fostered coherence within their streams. While an almost even split was observed at the aggregate level, disaggregated data by position and bureau provided a more nuanced picture. All executives felt their structure fostered coherence, while only half of staff found the same. Even fewer staff within the South-Asia bureau (OSD)—the only bureau not to undergo a restructuring over the last years—felt that their structure supported coherence, suggesting that the amalgamation that took place in other bureaus had a direct impact on perceptions of coherence. Interestingly, the case studies found that in the matter of mandated initiatives, the OGM’s structure was rarely a significant barrier to the successful delivery of joint initiatives.

In addition to the survey results, findings from the interviews and case studies highlighted the following:

Interviewees and key documents identified department-level opportunities for enhanced coordination across the various bureaus that share roles and responsibilities around the trade and development nexus. In this regards, strategic planning between the Trade Policy and Negotiations and Chief Trade Negotiator NAFTA branch and regional branches (i.e. OGM) were found to play a key role in enabling operational coherence at a regional programming level. In addition, it should be noted that the trade branch plays a convening role in terms of multilateral trade and negotiations (i.e. APEC, G7, G20, OECD, WTO), which can provide additional strategic insights to regional branches. The Strategic Planning, Policy and Operations division (OAZ) of the Asia-Pacific Branch has shown that it plays an important and successful coordination role in this nexus area.

At the departmental level, senior managers interviewed also stressed the inefficiencies and level of effort associated with briefing different ministers on a same topic. These interviewees explained that to address this issue, a framework was established for ministerial briefings on the Indo-Pacific Strategy and the coup in Myanmar. In interviewees’ views, these coordinated briefings were well received by MIN.

Organizational structure



Figure 18. Development perceives its flexibility to collaborate on joint initiatives by other streams less positively

Figure 18. Development perceives its flexibility to collaborate on joint initiatives by other streams less positively
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Figure 18:


Agree: 75%

Do not agree: 25%


Agree: 73%

Do not agree: 27%


Agree: 58%

Do not agree: 42%

Feminist International Assistance Policy

There were mixed views about the impact of the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) on the development stream’s flexibility. On the one hand, FIAP facilitated decision-making by outlining key priorities areas; on the other hand, it resulted in missed opportunities in non-priority areas such as human rights, infrastructure, climate change and renewable energies.

The 3 streams had sufficient flexibility to engage in cross-stream collaboration, although they were limited by features inherent to their relative streams.

Overall, 71% of OGM staff felt that their stream had the flexibility to collaborate on joint initiatives. While no major differences were observed by position and bureau, Figure 18 suggests that development has less flexibility than other streams.


Diplomacy was by far the stream having the most flexibility. As shown by evidence laid out in previous sections, the diplomacy stream was one of the main nodes of Global Affairs Canada’s collaboration system. In fact, almost all joint initiatives identified as part of the evaluation involved the contribution of the diplomacy stream. The multivariate analysis and the 4 case studies provide robust evidence of the flexibility and added value of engaging diplomacy in joint files. The fast-paced nature of the work performed by diplomacy, its broader roles and responsibilities, and the basic skills required of a diplomat all contributed to diplomacy’s inherent flexibility.


Evaluation participants shared mixed views on the level of the trade stream’s flexibility. For most interviewees, the imperative for trade commissioners to achieve TRIO2 key performance indicators (KPIs) sometime negatively affected their willingness to engage in joint initiatives. Nonetheless, many interviewees also noted that trade was very flexible when leadership supported initiatives.


The long-term objectives pursued by development combined with the rigid financial and accountability management systems that govern its operations limited this stream’s ability to rapidly adapt. Some interviewees from this stream felt that some OGM staff were not fully aware of limitations in the flexibility of development programming. As stated by 1 interviewee from the development stream, “We can’t use development funds for political whims. Development funds can’t respond to an immediate need and answer to a politics issue—but they can be used in other ways.

Despite this, strong evidence suggested that development had the flexibility to engage and align with other business streams at the programming design stage rather than at the stage that a project was approved, and funds committed. The case study on the advancement of a Canada-ASEAN FTA provided convincing evidence of the added value that development can provide to other streams. Case study interviewees reported that the development stream was open, supportive and flexible when collaborating with the trade stream, although interviewees mentioned that it took many years to bring development on board. The establishment of the EDM was a stellar example of trade and development pooling their resources to deliver on departmental priorities that cut across stream-specific objectives.

Findings – Other factors

Alignment of priorities and programs

Perception of priorities and programming alignment

Figure 19. Trade agrees less than diplomacy and development with the statement that initiatives delivered at mission support the priorities of the OGM branch

Figure 19. Trade agrees less than diplomacy and development with the statement that initiatives delivered at mission support the priorities of the OGM branch
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Figure 19:


Agree: 68%

Do not agree: 32%


Agree: 80%

Do not agree: 20%


Agree: 82%

Do not agree: 18%

Figure 20. A sizeable number of interviewees at HQ do not seem to be aware of the priorities of their stream

Figure 20. A sizeable number of interviewees at HQ do not seem to be aware of the priorities of their stream
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Figure 20:


Agree: 67%

Do not agree: 33%


Agree: 52%

Do not agree: 48%

 “No system is going to be perfect. Trying to change a system can be insurmountable. If it’s not broken, I would not fix it. I am weary of trying to convert into 1 converged system. [] Fundamentally, the corporate systems are not a barrier to coherence as they are now.”

- Executive interviewee

The factors policy & priority alignment and corporate systems & processes had a limited influence on coherence.

Alignment of priorities and programming

OGM’s main priorities, especially those established at headquarters, were clearly laid out in the Asia-Pacific Branch Strategic Plan, updated annually. At the mission level, the annual planning process for trade (i.e. BFM Branch) and diplomacy (supported by Strategia) captured mission priorities. Other lines of evidence and survey findings suggest that although priorities were available for staff to consult, many employees indicated that the priorities of their streams were not clearly communicated to them by management. In fact, only 64% of OGM staff noted that that senior management had clearly communicated the priorities of their stream to them. This was found to be particularly problematic at headquarters, as illustrated in Figure 20. Interestingly, the lack of knowledge of priorities did not appear to be a major barrier to collaboration, as 73% of OGM staff noted that initiatives delivered at mission supported the branch’s priorities. For its part, the multivariate analysis concluded that staff in executive positions and staff located at headquarters had a significant and positive view on the level of alignment of priorities at mission.

An overview of some of the main evidence of collaboration with other branches is available in Appendix D.

Corporate planning and reporting systems

With regards to this factor, few evaluation participants raised coherence-specific issues. Most of the discussions about systems revolved around the inherent advantages and disadvantages of each system (e.g. TRIO2 and Strategia) and therefore provided limited new information relevant to the issue of coherence. While interviewees recognized that the systems were not perfect, very few people suggested that major improvements were needed. The main issue raised pertained to the fact that TRIO2 did not capture any contribution that did not align with KPIs. One interviewee noted that qualitative contribution to initiatives in key priorities areas of the Feminist Foreign Policy could be captured and contributed to the trade commissioner reward system.


The Asia Pacific Branch (OGM) evaluation was the third in a series of 4 coherence evaluations. As part of the learning process, this third evaluation innovated by further developing the coherence measurement framework by including new indicators. This allowed for more targeted survey questions and facilitated a multivariate data analysis. Overall, the evaluation found that OGM is operating, for the most part, in a coordinated and coherent manner across diplomacy, trade and international assistance. While OGM has made progress in the recent years on this front, the evidence also suggests that opportunities for improvement exist to enhance the branch’s impact and efficiency. Principle findings include:

What works well

What were the main impacts of coherence efforts

Emergence of a culture of coherence thinking and collaboration across the department, including:

  1. strengthened relationships, knowledge and understanding of other streams by OGM and GAC staff
  2. increased ability to identify opportunities for collaboration across the streams (i.e. bottom-up nexus thinking)
  3. new skills and expertise among staff to champion and foster nexus capacity in the department
  4. establishment of new partnerships and approaches to collaboration

Increased efficiencies:

  1. access to sectoral expertise and ideas
  2. coordinated approach across the branches for more effective regional presence
  3. establishment of clear roles and responsibilities to avoid porous communication lines or duplication of efforts

Enhanced impacts:

  1. improved bilateral and multilateral (ASEAN) relationships
  2. increased access to funding instruments to further Canada’s priority initiatives (EDM, SEED, Crisis pool)
  3. expanded and strengthened network of influence
  4. enhanced ability to understand and address complex issues that require diversity of expertise

Where action is required

Senior and middle management need to provide clear and tangible guidance for operational coherence, except for mandated joint initiatives, where strategic coherence and operational coherence were more aligned

Trade and development streams would benefit from additional guidance to take advantage of opportunities in this coherence area

Missed opportunities for increased coherence were found. Barriers included:

  1. capacity
  2. limited knowledge of other streams
  3. a lack of incentives and middle management buy-in to further enable coherence thinking and collaboration
  4. a competencies gap in nexus thinking

Opportunities for improvement around the coordination of external messaging for the Asia Pacific region have been identified


  1. OGM should provide clear guidance to branch management and staff on how to identify and operationalize cross-stream initiatives.
  2. OGM should establish mechanisms to ensure that staff in each OGM stream (trade, diplomacy, development) has better knowledge of each other’s streams.
  3. OGM should establish incentives to further motivate staff to engage in cross-stream initiatives.

Appendix A – OGM background

OGM profile

Organizational structure

Asia-Pacific Branch organizational change

The Asia-Pacific Branch is composed of 3 bureaus: South Asia, Southeast Asia, and North Asia and Oceania. Beginning in 2018, the branch undertook change management activities that affected the organizational structure of some bureaus.

In the South Asia Bureau, 4 country divisions were transformed into 2 amalgamated country divisions. This change brought the point of integration between the 3 business lines to the director level, in the aim of facilitating the provision of integrated policy advice. In addition, the former corporate planning division was rebranded as Strategic Planning, Policy and Operations.

In the same year, the North Asia and Oceania Division created 2 distinct divisions for China: Greater China Trade and Investment, and Greater China Political and Coordination. Northeast Asia and Oceania includes all 3 business lines.

Southeast Asia has not undergone organizational change in recent years.

The Asia-Pacific Branch covers 40 countries with the support of 42 missions, and is organized into 3 bureaus: OAD, OSD and OPD.

Asia-Pacific sector table (OGM)

*In addition to the listed missions, 10 Canadian trade offices in China fall under OPC: Chengdu, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xiamen, Xi’an.

Figure: Asia-Pacific sector table (OGM)

Appendix B – Notes on methodology

Annex I: Organizational factors

Measurement framework

The evaluation established a measurement framework, consisting of 5 organizational factors, that was used as component of the Evaluation of Diplomacy, Trade and International Assistance Coherence in the Asia-Pacific Branch, 2015-16 to 2020-21.

Five organizational factors

Five organizational factors were identified as elements that enable coherence. These are policy alignment, organizational structure, branch leadership, capacity and expertise, and corporate systems and processes. Each factor features multiple dimensions.

It should be noted that while a degree of maturity in each area is a necessary condition for coherence, it may not be sufficient. Other factors, including those external to the branch and out of its control, may impede coherence. As such, these 5 factors were used in conjunction with other lines of evidence to provide a more comprehensive assessment of coherence within the branch.

Evolution of organizational factors

Organizational factors were used as an assessment tool in the 2 previous evaluations of policy and programming coherence:

The OGM/Asia-Pacific evaluation built upon the understanding and expertise developed in the first 2 evaluations of coherence to further refine the factors and their respective indicators.


Measurement framework

Annex II: Scorecard results for the Asia-Pacific Branch

In parallel to previous coherence evaluations (WGM and NGM), scorecards were designed to assess each of 4 organizational factors, taking into account their respective indicators. Scores given to each organizational factor were determined based on document reviews, survey responses and key informant interview analysis.

Each scorecard includes the definition of each factor, along with the scale and definition of the 3 potential scores. Lastly, the score for each element is indicated in blue.

Note that 1) the factor corporate systems and tools was not scored, as it was found to neither enable nor impede coherence in the OGM branch; and 2) case-study findings were not aggregated into the final scores, as the factors mainly scored “fully enables coherence” when a mandated joint initiative was present—skewing OGM’s general results, where mandated joint initiatives are not always present.

Sample scorecard: Leadership

Sample scorecard: Leadership




Organizational structure


Policy and priority alignment


Policy and priority alignment

Appendix C – Case studies

Annex III: Canada-ASEAN FTA

Trade and development nexus

Clear policy direction and objectives foster greater coherence across streams and enable a collaborative environment. This can supersede capacity and expertise

Senior management leadership (MINA and MINT, DMs, ADMs and DGs) plays a pivotal role in providing clear direction, buy-in and consistent messaging about a greater need for cross-stream and cross-branch collaboration, which can incentivize and guide greater coherence

Middle-management leadership can play a pivotal role in providing clear direction and effective management of complex, multi-branch organizational structures, which if coordinated well can enable good practices for consultation and approval processes, as observed in the Canada-ASEAN FTA case study

Building capacity in the trade and development nexus within the Trade Negotiations Division (TCW) could enable further coherence and efficiency by fostering expertise and engagement with the trade and development nexus and facilitate program delivery in this area

Cross-stream collaboration builds new skills that can lead to more effective leveraging of multi-stream priorities and expertise and the ability to speak to broad considerations of joint initiatives

A mandated joint initiative can increase interaction and collaboration between the trade and development stream.

A funding mechanism (i.e. EDM) designed to support multiple streams can enable coherence

The advancement of a Canada-ASEAN FTA demonstrated coherence across trade, diplomacy and development. This case study demonstrated strong leadership and capacity and expertise, both of which allowed key stakeholders to navigate a complex organizational structure.

As a bloc, ASEAN ranks as Canada’s sixth-largest trading partner, and advancing a Canada-ASEAN FTA is a key priority for Global Affairs Canada. This priority is aligned with GAC’s strategy to strengthen and diversify Canada’s trade partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is mandated to support. ASEAN member states have made the launching of negotiations towards a Canada-ASEAN FTA a priority economic deliverable for 2021.

The Canada-ASEAN FTA would not have advanced to the point where it is now had it not been for cross-stream and cross-branch collaboration and considerations. The advancement of a potential Canada-ASEAN FTA has been led by OGM’s trade stream and has involved the participation of the diplomacy and development streams. ASEAN is a complex partner that requires the consensus of all member countries to launch FTA negotiations and, therefore, bilateral relations and advocacy with the ASEAN Secretariat and individual ASEAN member states play a key role. Lastly, although development does not directly participate in FTA negotiations, it has played a key role in supporting the advancement of a possible Canada-ASEAN FTA by demonstrating Canada’s commitment to the region through development programs, in particular through the EDM.

Advancement of the Canada-ASEAN FTA – key achievements

Annex IV: The Rohingya response (Triple Nexus)

Planning process for the Rohingya response

In the case of the Rohingya response, Special Envoy Bob Rae’s comprehensive report provided a platform from which to strategically advance; this report was not part of a systematic departmental planning system.

The Canadian Integrated Conflict Analysis Process (CICAP) and the Integrated Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) were found to be useful tools for stakeholders across streams, helping them to convene and ground their understanding of conflict drivers in Myanmar at an initial stage. In particular, these tools fostered the participation of cross-stream stakeholders in the CICAP process. Key informant interviewees noted that senior management and HOM leadership involvement at an early stage of this process made a difference in its strategic application in the long run. Through workshops and consultations for the purpose of peace and security, the CICAP serves as:

The Rohingya response demonstrated OGM’s ability to work collaboratively across a complex structure that included diplomacy, development, humanitarian assistance, and peace and security; the latter 3 are also known as the “Triple Nexus.”

Informed by the recommendations of Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, Canada announced on May 23, 2018, a comprehensive strategy to respond to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh, committing $300 million of international assistance over 3 years to address development, humanitarian assistance, and peace and security (stabilization) needs.

The evaluation found that, overall, the Rohingya response demonstrated coherence across streams in terms of leadership and capacity & expertise, which helped to address some of the challenges found in a complex organizational structure. More importantly, the Rohingya response would not have been as successful had all 4 streams (diplomacy, development, humanitarian assistance and PSOPs) worked independently. In addition, Canada’s bilateral relationships with Myanmar and Bangladesh, and its advocacy initiatives, were seen to be central to delivering the Triple Nexus strategy, making the diplomacy stream essential to the Rohingya response.

The Rohingya response – key achievements

The Rohingya response (cont’d)

Limitations of the CICAP and IPSP

With respect to peace and security, CICAP and IPSP were found to be limited in terms of effectiveness and impact:

Lessons learned

The factors of leadership and capacity & expertise played a significant role in facilitating coherence across streams for the purpose of the Rohingya response. First, leadership with respect to high-level political engagement established a clear vision of and objectives for a unified strategic approach and facilitated coherence by galvanizing cross-stream collaboration. Leadership at various management levels (special envoy, ministers, senior management, HOMs, director general, directors and deputy directors) at HQ and at mission (both Dhaka and Yangon) also played a constructive role in providing guidance on priorities. Second, the level of capacity and expertise, both in terms of previous experience and cross-stream exposure, contributed to efficiency and effectiveness by providing a foundation for communication and networks. In this case study, leadership and capacity & expertise superseded the organizational structure factor and helped to mitigate challenges experienced in the latter.

Coherence thinking was reflected at both the strategic planning and programming levels, but was limited to mandated priorities. Evidence suggests that collaboration is highly valued by all streams in the Rohingya response, while coherence thinking is valued by individual streams mostly when it directly impacts their own programming. This mandated joint initiative supported, incentivized and enabled a general anticipation and consideration of other streams’ work, in great part due to the special envoy’s strategic report. Outside of specific joint directives, coherence thinking was not found to be prioritized, leaving streams focused on their respective silos. Triple Nexus literature reflects coherence thinking, but the link to its operational application is not yet apparent insofar as successful programming for the Rohingya response was found to be guided by departmental mandates and policies (FIAP) and was aligned with the special envoy’s comprehensive report; programming was not formally guided by Triple Nexus theory. Limited capacity (time and resources) of staff working on the Rohingya response appears to be one factor limiting the potential extent of coherence thinking and its application.

The Crisis Pool Quick Release Mechanism marked a crucial element in facilitating coherence, without which Canada’s quick and purposeful Rohingya response would not have been possible, considering the development programming mode—especially in Bangladesh. This funding mechanism allowed for flexibility in the creation of new programming and initiatives across the development, humanitarian assistance and PSOP streams, as well as timely program delivery in association with multilateral organizations that could specifically address the crisis at hand. Although the purpose of the Crisis Pool is not explicitly to foster coherence, having access to the Crisis Pool and adequate resources helped coherence in terms of 1) Canada sustaining a leadership role in protracted crisis, and 2) permitting flexibility when dealing with unknowns that can occur in the context of a political crisis.

Overall, the Rohingya response would not have been as successful had all 4 streams (diplomacy, development, humanitarian assistance and PSOPs) worked independently of each other. This funding mechanism enabled cross-stream collaboration that allowed for a more effective and coherent strategic approach. Lastly, the evaluation found that FPDS used the Post Initiative Fund (PIF) as an advocacy mechanism to support awareness of the Triple Nexus’s objectives and initiatives.

The Rohingya response (cont’d)

Figure 20. Diplomacy and development play a central role in the Triple Nexus

Figure 20. Diplomacy and development play a central role in the Triple Nexus
Text version

[Graph illustrating the central role played by Diplomacy and Development in the Triple Nexus.]

Key stakeholders involvedFootnote 2

Complex organizational structure and dual strategy

The evaluation found that organizational structure impacts approval, consultation and briefing processes. For the most part, it was found that OGM managed well the Rohingya response’s complex organizational structure—involving 2 ministers, 2 bureaus and 2 countries—owing to strong leadership and capacity & expertise. The response did, however, pose the following challenges: 1) two ministers (MINA and MINE) expected different briefing styles or products to be delivered for the same content, which led to duplication and impacted time management and effective use of resources; and 2) approval and consultation processes were based more on an ad hoc or common-sense basis. Although overall consultation processes were said to be inclusive over the past 3 years, 30% of key informant interviewees believe that, in 2021, there was an inadequate consultation process regarding more recent foundational policy documents and inadequate communication of strategic planning with regards to next steps. It is important to note that in the early years of the Rohingya response, Special Envoy Bob Rae straddled both bureaus and is said to have played a constructive role in coordination between the 2 bureaus and missions.

The evaluation found that in the Rohingya response, both diplomacy and development were central players in connecting the inter-relationships between other streams and were found to be critical pillars for enabling coherence (see Figure 20). Document reviews and key informant interviews found that diplomacy, in terms of advocacy and bilateral relationships, was particularly key in advancing strategic Triple Nexus programming and initiatives. In addition, diplomacy played the role of lead policy coordinator and implementer of the Rohingya strategy renewal. Development was also a central pillar in cross-stream collaboration: it was found to be in constant communication with humanitarian assistance (Bangladesh) to identify and coordinate programming to address immediate humanitarian needs, along with longer-term development needs, and to ensure there was no programming duplication; it also worked closely with diplomacy (at both missions) and PSOPs (Myanmar).

It is important to note that diplomacy is not recognized in Triple Nexus literature, which only refers to 3 sub-streams: development, humanitarian assistance and PSOPs. While PSOPs and humanitarian assistance play an important role in addressing immediate issues, they are not central to enabling coherence across streams. This is also reflected in their respective centralized models, in which both do not have staff at the relevant missions and are thus supported by diplomacy and development streams at the DHAKA and YNGON missions.

Annex V: The Mongolia extractive sector

Lessons learned

Factors that inhibited coherence

The Mongolia extractive sector case study provides insight into the incremental learning that has happened at Global Affairs Canada with respect to coherence across streams, prior to and following the amalgamation of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAIT) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

A new development program for Mongolia was created in 2011, centred around Canadian mining interests, which provided an opportunity for trade and development to work together in the period just before and after the amalgamation of DFAIT and CIDA. At this time, based upon an analysis of “Canadian national interest” and a formal request from the president of Mongolia, the Canadian prime minister directed that Canada should launch a mid-sized development program for Mongolia, based on 2 Canadian national interests: investment (mining) and democracy. Accordingly, Government ministers determined that the aid program should focus on improving governance with an emphasis on the extractive sector. Following these decisions, a substantial support program (i.e. $25M over 5 years) was put in place to strengthen extractive-sector governance, with a secondary thread of advancing democracy. Although the development program was announced in 2011, significant bilateral spending only began flowing in FY 2015/2016, notably through the mining governance projects MERIT, SESMIM and Mongolia Program Support Facility.

Overall, the evidence shows that potential coherence across streams was not achieved between trade and development as was originally intended. When compared to other more recent case study analyses, lessons learned from this case study demonstrate that the department has since learned how to increase coherence across streams.

Mongolia extractive sector - key achievements

Annex VI: Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development (SEED)

Lessons learned

Strategic coherence around a single goal can be achieved across streams if each stream’s unique mandates, roles and responsibilities of are well understood and respected

Senior management played an important role in driving initiatives that foster coherence; setting expectations of operational coherence; and providing platforms for coherence thinking and cross-stream collaboration to occur

Governance bodies (DGSCC and SCWG) provided mechanisms through which nexus thinking and collaboration could occur

Factors that inhibited coherence

Complex organizational structure: Disparate mandates and administration of scholarship programs across the department resulted in difficulty developing an umbrella narrative. In the absence of a department-wide strategic approach, Canada lacks a “Canadian brand” for international audiences under which these scholarships are all recognized. This is currently being addressed by the new International Education Strategy (2019-2024) and the 2019 establishment of GAC’s DGSCC and SCWG

Capacity: The BIE team can no longer manage the administrative burden that has arisen over the last few years associated with the inclusion of SEED and other new scholarships, given that the inclusion of new scholarship programs has not been accompanied by an increase in the number of staff.

The SEED program demonstrated coherence through leadership, expertise, and policy alignment.

On August 6, 2017, the new SEED program was announced to mark both ASEAN’s 50th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Canada dialogue partner relations. The SEED program is a $10-million, 5-year (2018-2022) scholarship program aimed at providing post-secondary students and mid-career professionals from Southeast Asia with access to education in Canada, and is managed by GAC’s ASEAN Regional Development Program (OSF).

The evaluation found that the administration of SEED is an excellent example of cross-stream coordination and collaboration and that it advances development, trade and diplomacy objectives. SEED aims to reduce poverty in ASEAN developing countries and contributes to raising Canada’s profile as an international education destination by elevating Canada’s overall inbound scholarship portfolio. The program also demonstrates Canada’s commitment to the region, which supports trade’s broader efforts to launch negotiations for a Canada-ASEAN FTA. Interviewees noted that the SEED program has been well-received across the region, and is frequently referenced in ASEAN-related speaking points, especially at missions. Overall, interviewees stated, SEED contributes to strengthening Canada’s bilateral and regional relations with ASEAN member states.

SEED program - key achievements

SEED-related coherence impacts include increased operational efficiencies for OGM; consistent messaging across business lines; and a greater global recognition of Canada as a leader in international education.

Appendix D – Collaboration within the department

Annex VII: Alignment of priorities and programs

Perception of priority and program alignment

Figure 21. A sizable number of employees from the trade and diplomacy streams feel that initiatives delivered by other branches are not aligned with OGM’s priorities

Figure 21. A sizable number of employees from the trade and diplomacy streams feel that initiatives delivered by other branches are not aligned with OGM’s priorities
Text version

Figure 21:


Agree: 41%

Do not agree: 59%


Agree: 48%

Do not agree: 52%


Agree: 63%

Do not agree: 38%

While the evaluation did not conduct a thorough review of all the “touch points” between OGM and the activities and programming delivered by other branches in the Asia-Pacific region, some findings provide information on the level of coordination and collaboration in the region. Only 44% of OGM employees stated that the programming delivered in the region by branches other than OGM aligned with OGM priorities. There is therefore evidence that opportunities for improvement exist in terms of coordination of activities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Case study findings and interviews depicted a positive picture in terms of collaboration across the branches active in the Asia-Pacific region. Collaboration and regular coordination with IFM, TFM, BFM and MFM were reported. Examples of positive collaboration between OGM and other branches include:

Appendix E – Lessons learned from coherence evaluations

Annex VIII: Lessons from coherence evaluations

What do we know about coherence so far?

Findings from the 3 coherence evaluations conducted over the last few years were reviewed to identify recurring themes and key differences. The following observations depict the key lessons learned from this review:

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