Stakeholder analysis is an important instrument that is used to identify and analyze all key actors who are relevant to a particular dialogic change initiative. It is best done in the team that intends to initiate and conduct the Stakeholder Dialogue and is especially important at the outset of the process. The purpose of applying this instrument is to develop a strategic view of the human and institutional landscape and the relationships between different stakeholders.
Process for Analysis
Step 1: Create a list of the stakeholders relevant to the success of the Stakeholder Dialogue initiative
The first step is to create a general list of important stakeholders. These can be stakeholders already active in the field of work, in a dialogue process, or actors/organizations who are potentially interested in cooperation.
There is no need to be overly comprehensive, but it is important to focus on the most relevant stakeholders (institutions or individuals) who can make the Stakeholder Dialogue succeed or fail.
Step 2: Assess stakeholders’ influence and interest
Categorize stakeholders according to their potential interest and influence on important steps towards the goal, and place them on the grid accordingly. It is important to make a realistic assessment of the current situation (do not place them where you think they should be, but where they are according to your assessment). Cross-check your results if you have placed most stakeholders in the high interest/high influence quadrant: is this the reality?
When plotting stakeholders’ positions on your grid, consider marking the stakeholders who you see as advocating or supporting your initiative in green, and those whom you expect to block or criticize your initiative in red.
Step 3: Consolidate and interpret your findings
After discussing the results of your interest/influence grid, consolidate the conclusions. Consider the following questions related to the key stakeholders for the success of the Stakeholder Dialogue:
- Are key stakeholders interested, or is there a need to raise their interest in the goal?
- Are key stakeholders interested, but have little influence?
- Are key stakeholders influential, but show little interest?
- Are there key stakeholders you do not know enough about to be able to assess their interest or influence?
Step 4: Develop a good understanding of how best to engage the most important stakeholders
How you may have an influence on changing stakeholder positions on the grid:
- How can you raise the interest of stakeholders you need and whom you placed at low interest?
- How could you convince powerful stakeholders to support you?
- How can you support stakeholder with little influence, but high interest?
Be aware that the key stakeholders you need to implement the Stakeholder Dialogue need to be in the right quadrants of high interest and low influence, or high interest and high influence. If not enough stakeholders are interested in the goal and the initiative, it may not make sense to continue. Once you understand stakeholder views, you can decide how best to engage them.
A Final Process Tip
It is important to use an inclusive and transparent approach in the stakeholder engagement process to build ownership and commitment. Stakeholders will be engaged in different ways in the various stages of the Stakeholder Dialogue: through gathering and providing information, consulting, dialogue, working together, and so on. If it is not possible to have all stakeholders involved from the outset, then a strategy for gradual involvement may be needed.
1. High-influence, high-interest stakeholders
These are the people you must make the greatest effort to engage fully.
2. High-power, low-interest stakeholders
Invest enough work into keeping these stakeholders informed at least. It is best to gain their interest, but do not overload them with information. Build good relationships if you do not need to involve them directly. If you need them in the dialogue process, make all efforts to raise their interest in the issue. How actively these stakeholders should be pursued needs to be driven by the importance of having them involved in the dialogue.
3. Low-influence, but interested stakeholders
If these stakeholders’ interest is high, there must be a reason. For example, they may be affected groups, or advocacy groups such as small businesses that are interested in a better business environment, communities, and so on. Often, these stakeholders have important information, perspectives or experiences. But they may lack the capacity to make their voices heard, so they need support in doing this. They may also be badly organized and need institutional strengthening to increase their influence. Stakeholders in this quadrant can become important supporters of the Stakeholder Dialogue. Engage them, support them, and keep them adequately informed to keep their level of interest in your initiative high. You must assess how important the point of view or experience of these actors is to the dialogue: this should be a criterion for actively involving them in the process.
4. Low-influence, low-interest stakeholders
Keep considering these stakeholders, but do not bore them with excessive communication. Do not involve them in the Stakeholder Dialogue, but review this approach periodically, because their status can also change.