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What are stakeholders?

A stakeholder is anyone with an interest in an organisation. Stakeholders are individuals, groups or organisations that are affected by the activity of the organisation.

Stakeholder theory challenges the idea that only the values of an organisation’s owners, directors or shareholders determine its strategic direction. The theory acknowledges that other parties are important in determining the functions and the success of a business or organisation - its stakeholders.

Recognising and Understanding Your Stakeholders

To work effectively with your stakeholders, recognise who they are but also to gain an understanding of their needs, expectations and priorities. One way of doing this is to understand the differences between internal and external stakeholders: 

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Understand the expectations of each group of stakeholders and how much impact this might have on the organisation’s strategic plan. A good starting point in undertaking this analysis is to ask yourself the following questions:

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Stakeholder Mapping

Assessing the level of stakeholder influence

Stakeholder mapping can be a useful way of analysing how much different stakeholders influence your organisation’s objectives.

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It can be used if you are leading a project where you need to manage stakeholders’ expectations and involvement. Stakeholders can be ranked according to their:

Interest– the extent to which each stakeholder cares about the aims, objectives and choices;


Power– the extent to which each stakeholder is able to influence the organisation.

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Mapping out the expectations of each stakeholder group and calculating their influence can help you to engage and manage them by assessing where conflicts between different groups might arise. It also helps you to decide what action you and your team members should take as a result.

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Adapted from Stakeholder Analysis on the Mindtools website at www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_07.htm College for Teaching & Leadership (2017). Working with stakeholders www.nationalcollege.org.uk Freeman, R (1984). Strategic Management: A stakeholder approach Pitman Jeffrey C., Jonathan D. (2000). Identifying Who Matters: Mapping Key Players in Multiple Environments California Management Review Vol.42 No.2[4] Mendelow (1991). Proceedings of Second International Conference on Information Systems Cambridge, MA The Great Schools Partnership (2014). The Glossary of Education Reform: Stakeholder www.edglossary.org/stakeholder


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