Stakeholder management is an important discipline to both increase the quality of projects and win support from others. It helps ensure that projects are implemented and successful, where others fail and are discarded. It is of particular interest to professionals that have limited experience in how to involve stakeholders in project development and implementation. Experienced professionals tend to use similar frameworks on a subconscious level when managing projects. Being more explicit and structured in stakeholder analysis facilitates communication within project teams.
Building with Nature interest
In BwN projects, stakeholders are important because BwN projects affect the physical environment: environments to which stakeholders attribute several – often different – functions. This means that physical measures affect the socio-economic environment in which stakeholders function. Different stakeholders have different reasons for participating in, or opposing project development in a specific area. Careful selection of partners and management of opposition helps to make projects feasible and successful.
Due to their novel and innovative nature, designs based on BwN-principles can encounter resistance. Unfamiliarity with the approach often leads to initial opposition when applying novel, dynamic solutions to problems that were previously perceived as static and solvable by traditional means. This can be overcome through attentive identification and involvement of stakeholders, thereby making such dynamic solutions feasible.
Stakeholders can be defined as ‘any group or individual who can actively affect or be affected by the project development’ (based on Freedman, 1984). As such, stakeholders can be anything from individuals affected by a project through to large-scale non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) whose organisational goals are related to aspects of the project. Attention to stakeholders is important throughout the project development process for the following reasons:
- Success depends on satisfying key stakeholders according to their definition of what is valuable (Bryson 1995: 27). In other words: project initiators should be aware that the “stakes” held by the relevant stakeholders may be conflicting. The challenge is to manage these conflicts and make sure that all stakes are adequately addressed.
- Political feasibility needs to be assessed and enhanced, especially when it comes to articulating and achieving the common good (Bryson et al, 2002; Campbell and Marshall, 2002). No project operates in a political vacuum, and public and private interests may be conflicting.
- Requirements of procedural justice, rationality and legitimacy need to be satisfied for those involved or affected (Eden and Ackermann 1998). There is a large variety of legislation on participation, and thoughtful stakeholder management helps satisfying the corresponding procedural obligations.
Stakeholder analysis tool
This tool provides a means of stakeholder identification and classification. It is meant especially for teams and managers developing BwN-type projects. No special skills are required.
The tool can be used in all phases of BwN project development and in fact should be utilized in each phase anew, as stakeholders may change position as the project develops. Identifying and involving stakeholders in early phases of a project development is essential to obtain support in later phases. The tool can be used for two purposes:
- to increase the chance of success by strengthening the forces in favour of the project and/or weakening the forces against it;
- to decide at transitions between project phases whether or not to go ahead with the initiative.