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Section 8. Identifying and Analyzing Stakeholders and Their Interests

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What do we mean by stakeholders and their interests?

___Stakeholders are those who may be affected by or have an effect on an effort

___They may also include those interested for academic, political, or philosophical reasons

___They can be divided into primary, secondary, and key stakeholders

___Their interests depend on how they affect or are affected by the effort, and can span a broad range of categories

Why identify and analyze stakeholders and their interests?

___It puts more ideas on the table

___It includes varied perspectives from all sectors and elements of the community affected

___It gains buy-in and support for the effort from all stakeholders

___It’s fair to everyone.

___It saves you from being blindsided by concerns you didn’t know about

___It strengthens your position if there’s opposition

___It creates bridging social capital for the community

___It increases the credibility of your organization

___It increases the chances of success for your effort

Who are potential stakeholders?

Primary stakeholders

___Beneficiaries or targets of the effort

Secondary stakeholders

___Those directly involved with or responsible for beneficiaries or targets of the effort

___Those whose jobs or lives might be affected by the process or results of the effort

Key stakeholders

___Government officials and policy makers

___Those who can influence others

___Those with an interest in the outcome of an effort

When should you identify stakeholders?

___In general, stakeholders and their interests should be identified and involved/addressed as early as possible in the process of the development of the effort

How do you identify and analyze stakeholders and their interests?

___Identify stakeholders by:

  • Brainstorming
  • Collecting categories and names from informants in the community
  • Consulting with organizations that either are or have been involved in similar efforts, or that work with the population or in the area of concern
  • Getting more ideas from stakeholders as you identify them
  • If appropriate, advertising

___Discover and try to understand stakeholder interests by asking them what’s important to them

___Apply stakeholder analysis/stakeholder mapping

  • Promoters have both great interest in the effort and the power to help make it successful (or to derail it)
  • Defenders have a vested interest and can voice their support in the community, but have little actual power to influence the effort in any way
  • Latents have no particular interest or involvement in the effort, but have the power to influence it greatly if they become interested
  • Apathetics have little interest and little power, and may not even know the effort exists

___Manage stakeholders according to whether your goals for that management are community support and advocacy (usually connected to policy change) or a participatory process and empowerment of a population meant to benefit from the effort

_ Keep stakeholders involved and informed by:

  • Treating them with respect
  • Providing whatever information, training, mentoring, and/or other support they need to stay involved
  • Finding tasks or jobs for them to do that catch their interest and use their talents
  • Maintaining their enthusiasm with praise, celebrations, small tokens of appreciation, and continual reminders of the effort’s accomplishments
  • Engaging them in decision-making
  • Employing them in the conception, planning, implementation, and evaluation of the effort from its beginning
  • In the case of those who start with little power or influence, helping them learn how to gain and exercise influence by working together and developing their personal, critical thinking, and political skills

___Evaluate the stakeholder analysis / management process.

  • What could you have done to better identify stakeholders?
  • Which strategies worked best to involve different populations and groups?
  • How successful were you in keeping people involved?
  • Did you provide any training or other support?  Was it helpful?  How could it have been improved?
  • Did your stakeholder analysis and management efforts have the desired effect?  Were they helpful?
  • Did stakeholder involvement improve the work, effectiveness, and/or political and community support of the effort?

___Keep at it for the long term to maintain stakeholder involvement

  • Maintain stakeholders’ and supporters’ motivation, keep them informed, and continue to find meaningful work for them to do
  • New stakeholders may need to be brought in as time goes on
  • Although some people may cease to be actual stakeholders, they may retain an interest in the effort and you should therefore continue to include them
  • Understanding and engaging stakeholders can be tremendously helpful to your effort, but only if it results in their ownership of it and long-term commitment to it.  And that depends on your continuing attention.