Drawing on literature from various disciplines that directly address commercial diplomacy (diplomacy, political economy and international marketing) as well as empirical research, this article brings to commercial diplomacy the approach of management and organizational science. Methods used include qualitative case study research from in-depth semi-structured interviews with numerous commercial diplomats and related stakeholders, such as concerned business firms. A large share of the data was gathered in Switzerland. Naray analyses the roles of commercial diplomats by creating a framework composed of three main groups of roles — facilitation (F), advisory (A) and representation (R) — or ‘FAR’. These three roles cut across activity areas such as trade promotion, investments, ‘made-in’ and corporate image, cooperation in science and technology, and the protection of intellectual property. Two key dimensions of factors that shape the nature of commercial diplomacy are identified: organizational (such as arrangements between ministries and trade-promotion organizations, etc.); and individual (education, background and motivation). Implications arising from the organizational dimension concern organizational design, seeking effective arrangements between the commercial diplomat’s organizational unit and the headquarters. The individual dimension implies rethinking recruitment and talent management. If governments are to reorganize their commercial diplomacy, these two dimensions should be considered and acted upon.