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Who are Stakeholders and what is their role?

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A stakeholder is best defined as “a person, group or organization that has direct or indirect stake in an organization because it can affect or be affected by the organization's actions, objectives, and policies”. (BusinessDictionary, 2007). It was in the year 1980 that the concept of stakeholders was developed by R. Edward Freeman.


A list of stakeholders may include one or more of the following:








           Labour Unions

           Government regulatory Agencies

           Industry Trade Groups

           Professional Associates


           Prospective employees

           Prospective customers

           Local communities

           National Communities

           Public (Community)



All stakeholders are not essentially equal and are entitled to different considerations. (BusinessDictionary, 2007). The first is to ascertain who exactly your stakeholders are. This is where Stakeholder Management comes in. “Stakeholder Management is the process by which you identify your key stakeholders and win their support. Stakeholder Analysis is the first stage of this, where you identify and start to understand your most important stakeholders”. (Mindtools, 2007). The proper execution of this process determines the success or failure of the project involved.


Stakeholder analysis utilizes the technique of identifying the key people who have to be won over. Next step involves the stakeholder planning process to successfully build your support.


The key benefits of having stakeholders include:

           Valuable opinions, views and suggestions of the powerful stakeholders can help you shape your project while it is still in its nascent stage. This can significantly improve the quality of your project.

           When you have powerful stakeholders supporting you, you have access to useful resources as well. This way, the likelihood of your project hitting higher success levels is higher.

           The active participation of your stakeholders in your project will make them understand the nature of your project and they can then contribute by actively supporting your project.

           By envisaging in advance the reaction of people to your project, you can build into your plan the actions that will win you people’s support.

It is equally important to prioritize your stakeholders. Your stakeholder list may comprise of people and organizations. It is important here to identify who are affected by your work. It is a good idea to classify them “by their power over your work and by their interest in your work.” For example, your boss is likely to have high power and influence over your projects and high interest. Your family may have high interest, but are unlikely to have power over it. (Mindtools, 2007). After having a careful analysis, you will be able identify your key stakeholders. The final and most important stage is to ascertain what exactly motivates your stakeholders and then adopt the best way to win them. Take into consideration what kind of approach would be required and what information would the stakeholders need.

Successfully conduction a stakeholder analysis in the early stages of planning can greatly improve the quality of a project.




MSH, Management Sciences for Health and UNICEF (2007), “Stakeholder Analysis” Available from:

Accessed: 10/26/2007

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia (2007) “Stakeholder (Corporate)”

Available from: Accessed: 10/26/2007

MindTools, Essential skills for an excellent career (2007) “Stakeholder Analysis: Winning support for your projects”

Available from: article/newPPM_07.htm

Accessed: 10/26/2007

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