Carrying out a stakeholder analysis

It is good to do a stakeholder analysis fairly early in the process of course design, because it is then possible to involve key stakeholders from the very beginning. It can also help to avoid problems which might otherwise be overlooked. Usually, there will be a small group of persons who are organizing and driving the course design process. This small group, and perhaps some other invited persons, can undertake the first stakeholder analysis. It can be done in a workshop setting, in order to encourage open minds and free thinking. If the group members are familiar with each other, and already have a good working relationship, then one of them can facilitate the analysis. If there is a likelihood of disagreement or dissent, however, it may be good to invite an independent and neutral facilitator to take the group through the process. There may be cost implications from this, however. Following the first stakeholder analysis, it is useful to organize a second workshop (again, if time and resources allow) to which some of the stakeholders identified are invited. They can then give feedback about their own potential roles, as well as the roles of others. It might also be good to go through the stakeholder analysis a second time with the larger group to validate the first analysis, and/or to add further information about different stakeholders.


Steps in the stakeholder analysis

1.List the stakeholders.

      Try to be as specific as possible. For example, avoid naming a stakeholder such as ‘The Government’, or ‘managers’. These are very broad terms.


2.Group them into ‘outsiders’ and ‘insiders’.

       (see Part I - PCD page 32)


3.Identify their interests in the training.

      (expectations, benefits, resources offered, withheld).


4.Note any conflicting interests.


5.Highlight relationships between stakeholders (-/+).

      Relationships between stakeholders are often positive in the sense that they lead to constructive processes or outcomes, through complementary activities, inputs or collaborations. Such beneficial relationships may be indicated in a table by using a (+). Sometimes, however, involving different stakeholders may lead to conflict, and create obstacles and constraints. It is important to recognize in advance where this may happen, although such situations cannot always be predicted. Where difficulties are anticipated, strategies to deal with conflict are likely to be needed, the relationship can be highlighted with a (-).


6.Assess impact of the curriculum development/provision of training on the stakeholders’ interests.

      (i.e. will the training have a positive or a negative effect on their interests?)


7.   Construct a table as below.


8.Analyse the relationship between different stakeholders, according to their relative importance and influence.

      Methods for analysing the importance and influence are described below under Importance and influence of stakeholders (page 69).


9.Develop a stakeholder participation matrix.

      In this final step, potential roles and responsibilities are assigned to different stakeholders (this must then be followed up with the relevant stakeholders through an event such as a participatory workshop). A table can be constructed as follows:



Importance and influence of stakeholders

Importance indicates the priority given to satisfying stakeholders’ needs and interests from being involved in the design of the training course and in the training itself in order for it to be successful. In other words, how important or essential is it that certain stakeholders are involved? The trainees are obviously a very important group, as are the trainers. But what about other stakeholders? Policy makers? Farmers? Parents? Community leaders etc.?


Influence is the power which stakeholders have over the training course design process. It is the extent to which people, groups or organizations are able to persuade or force others into making decisions and taking action. Groups or individuals who control resources are often very influential, for example.


Different stakeholders bring with them different degrees of importance (how much they benefit from or contribute to the training programme) and influence (how much they are able to affect the training programme, i.e. their relative power).


There are different ways of analysing this relative importance and influence. One involves a matrix, and is very useful when working with participants who are familiar with abstract visualization (graphs, diagrams, etc.). The other method, making a Venn diagram, is commonly used with participants who are less used to abstract visuals, and find it easier to use images which are more representative of reality. We describe both methods here (Taylor 2003).


a)   develop an ‘importance and influence’ matrix:

Draw the matrix below on a large flipchart. Write the name of each stakeholder included in the list made already on a separate card or ‘Post-it’ and stick the cards on the matrix according to the participants’ view of each stakeholder’s relative importance and influence (don’t use glue, or it will be difficult to move them around). Don’t worry about locating them exactly, since this is by nature a rather subjective exercise. Once all the cards are in place, stand back and have a look. If necessary, move some of the cards around until a consensus is reached. Then read the comments below about the relevance of each box.





Analysis of the importance-influence matrix and its application:

BOX A:   This group will require special initiatives to protect their interests.


BOX B:    A good working relationship must be created with this group.


BOX C:    This group may be a source of risk, and will need careful monitoring and                     management.


BOX D:    This group may have some limited involvement in evaluation but are,                          relatively, of low priority.


b)   using a type of ‘Venn’ diagram

Prepare the following:

    circles made of card, in three sizes, e.g. 8 cm, 12 cm, 16 cm and in two colours,

    triangles made of card, in three sizes (similar range to the circles),

    large flipchart paper.


Take the list of stakeholders identified earlier. Use one colour for ‘outsiders’ and another for ‘insiders’. In the centre of the flipchart, draw a circle and write in it a title such as ‘PCD’, or ‘training’. 


Begin with the list of outsiders. For each stakeholder, decide how important their involvement will be and choose a circle; either of little importance (smallest circle), some importance (middle sized circle) or very important (largest circle). Write the name of the stakeholder in the appropriate sized circle. Repeat for all outsiders, and then, changing colour of the circles, follow the same procedure for all the insiders.


When every stakeholder has been written on an appropriate circle, organize and stick all the circles onto the flipchart. You can group the circles according to relationships between them, the closer the relationship, the closer the circles will be together. You could even add lines between certain stakeholders to show formal linkages between them. You could also add another dimension if you wished, for example, including frequency of involvement; the more frequent the involvement, the closer the circle to the centre of the diagram. However, this will make the diagram more complex, so it is just an option.


Finally, for each stakeholder, choose a triangle (small, medium or large) depending on the degree of influence each has on the PCD process. Stick the appropriate sized triangle on the edge of the circle. A stakeholder awarded a small circle, could receive a large triangle and vice versa. Once the diagram has been completed, take a look at it in the group, and discuss the relative importance and influence of each stakeholder until a consensus is reached.


For both methods (a) and (b), it is good to have two groups of participants who complete the exercise, and then compare the results. The key output of this part of the analysis is not so much the finished matrix or diagram (they are certainly useful), but the issues that arise from the discussions. These will help the finalize the stakeholder analysis.



Using the output of the stakeholder analysis

The reason that stakeholders may be assigned different roles is based on the idea that there are different levels of participation. Some stakeholders may not have time or even want to be heavily involved in the training course design process; but they may like to be kept informed. This is a relatively low level of participation. Others, however, will want to be consulted, to be asked to give advice, comments or suggestions on different aspects of the course design. Training needs assessment and evaluation often involve consultation, but it is useful also to consult certain stakeholders on aims, objectives, course outlines and plans for implementation. Some stakeholders need to participate fully in course development; the trainers and trainees are two obvious groups which will be involved extensively, especially during the implementation phase, but other stakeholders such as subject matter specialists, advisors, even resource persons from the community, may become real partners. Finally, for each stage of course planning, implementation and design, an individual, a group, or an institution will be in ultimate control. They will have the responsibility for final decisions, and it is important to understand exactly who these stakeholders are in order to avoid major problems, especially at the stage of implementation.


Once the different stakeholders have been identified, and their potential roles and responsibilities proposed, it is possible to begin the process of training course design with appropriate stakeholder involvement. The level of resources will of course determine the extent of stakeholder involvement. Some stakeholders may need transport, accommodation, even fees, to allow them to participate. Anyone organizing a PCD process does of course need to be realistic and pragmatic, and at some point, you will need to achieve a balance between what is desirable, and what can be afforded. However, if key stakeholders recognize direct benefit by their involvement in PCD, they may be able to provide resources themselves. Arriving at this point may take time, but it is always worth making the effort to discuss with potential stakeholders what is required of them, and also what they may expect to gain as a result. This is all part of a participatory approach. The stakeholder analysis described above can at least help to ensure that you are well prepared as you embark on a PCD process.