Key Stakeholders, do you know about them?
The first question arising to our minds would be: what is a stakeholder? Well, different perspectives are depending on what terms we talk about; in the sense of humanitarian aid and cooperation projects stakeholders are considered to be those individuals having some kind of power or interest over a project, the relation could be also about impact-influence, power-influence, or expectative-strength. In the end, it is meant to be any link to the project which is going to be done.
As part of the project, stakeholders are able to:
- Determine the actions that are going to affect their lives or essential environment for life.
- Contribute to the final decision of the project, at the same time that seek input from other stakeholders in designing how they are going to participate.
- Promote sustainable decision and report the needs and interests of all participants including decision-makers.
- Seek out the involvement of other stakeholders which are potentially affected by or interested in a decision.
- Provide information which is needed by to other stakeholders, in order to participate in a meaningful way.
- Communicate to other participans how their input affected the decision.
How can we identify stakeholders?
Depending on the relation they have with the company they can be differentiated between internal stakeholders (belonging to the project) and external stakeholders (people outside the project, which can be affected in a positive or negative way).
In order to look for the analysis of stakeholders, there are some stepts to be followed:
First step is done through the identification of some core questions which are going to recognize the actors.
Who is going to do the work?
Who is going to coordinate the project?
Who is going to pay for the project?
Who is going to consume the product or service?
Who will be affected by the project?
- Stakeholder Matrix
3. Relation power/interest
Depending on the position of the actors, the company or NGO should follow different strategies. For the identification of the strategies which are going to be develop the company realizes this relation between power and interest:
- Little interest – little power: the NGO or company would have to monitor They don’t influence the project, it is important to have them under control to assure that their power or influence does not change as long as the plan is being developed.
- High interest – little power: actors which have high interest but little power are those who have to be informed about the project and how it is going to be developed. These individuals do support the project but they don’t have the means to improve the situation.
- Little interest – high power: these individuals are considered to be important; they have power but they don’t care about the development of the project. It is important to keep them satisfied, as they have the power to stop the planning and humanitarian aid.
- High interest – high power. These are the individuals that will allow the NGO or company to succeed with the project. They want the plan to be done and have the means to achieve it.
Then, where do we find the key stakeholders?
Considering the definition of key stakeholder as “a subject of Stakeholders who, if their support were to be withdrawn, would cause the project to fail” [Cornell University, Information Technologies].
Key stakeholders are those who have power in the place or over the project which is being developed. They are the main actors which will influence the evolution of the activities done during the process. Then, as explained before, having interest or not is important to know to develop a strategy over them.
It is the enagement of the actors which have been identified to the company. The ideal stakeholder engagement process should be an iterative process, allowing engagement to benefit from diligent planning, thorough reporting and the application of learning as a result of appropriate evaluation and monitoring.
Some of the characteristics of this ideal stakeholder engagement process are:
- Characterized as “two-way” meaning that both sides will be able to exchange views and information; being informed in advance about relevant key issues. Moreover, they will have an effect on operational decisions.
- No signs of manipulation or coercion; and using techniques that are culturally appropriate.
- Based in a long-term commitment.
- Be targeted as the actors most likely to be affected by the organization; representatives of stakeholders, whether by gender, race, age, class, sexual orientation, education or religion.
- Not making commitments that cannot be delivered.
- Put place strong internal processes to build consensus and support among internal departments for stakeholders engagement and as a way to facilitate better engagement.
- Using appropriate technology for the context, level of education or develop of the stakeholders.
- Having a system for feeding back and following up on issues raised during consultations as well as clarification of next stepts.