4 Defining Stakeholders

Section Outcomes

In this section you will identify stakeholders as well as define stakeholder needs and wants. In a future section you will craft an effective message for different stakeholder groups.

Introduction

Before a potential OE advocate takes on her role as an advocate, it is a good idea for her to define what the people around her want and need in relation to OE. She should identify her stakeholders and begin to define their wants and needs so that when she crafts her outreach to the institution, it fits with the overall mission and needs of her constituents. OE will not take root at an institution if the OE advocates don’t define a clear need for OE, and tell constituents clearly how OE will help to fill that need in the most efficient way possible. In this sense, an OE advocate must act as a strategist. The following sections are designed to help potential advocates to consider the role that OE can play at the local institution. Readers should consider their own institutions and focus on how this information applies at a local level. Begin to strategize as you read.

Defining Stakeholders

According to Adrienne Watt (2014), “Stakeholders are individuals who either care about or have a vested interest in your project. They are the people who are actively involved with the work of the project or have something to either gain or lose as a result of the project.” As Watt describes, there are many levels of stakeholder. The goal, when strategizing your advocacy plan, is to try to describe how stakeholders will be affected, and then try to ensure that a message is crafted for any stakeholders whose support is needed. In her book on project management, Watt provides a more descriptive analysis of stakeholders and strategies for working with different stakeholders. For the purposes of this reading, it is important to know how to conduct a stakeholder analysis. What follows is a process for assessing stakeholders:

Step One: Internal Constituents

Begin by listing all of the potential internal clients (people who work for your institution) by general category. For example, list faculty, staff, administrators, bookstore employees, etc. Every institutions’ list will be slightly different.

A subset of internal clients are departments or organizations within your institution that might deal directly with textbook cost or shifts in pedagogy. For example, departments like TRIO, Institutional Effectiveness, eLearning, faculty professional development groups, foundations, and the bookstore might fit within internal clients, but are audiences that might be targeted directly in your advocacy planning.

Step Two: External Constituents

Next, list all of the potential customer clients (mostly this will be students) by general category. For example, student government, Nursing students, general transfer students might all make your list.

Be sure to include external constituents who aren’t students, but who might be influenced or affected by an institutional move toward open education. These might include accrediting bodies, institutions where your students transfer, professional organizations, and regional organizations that work with your organization.

Step Three: Stakeholder Influencers

Identify the groups or individuals who are most likely to influence your stakeholders. These are people and organizations with whom you probably don’t have regular contact, but whose advice is considered important to your stakeholders. Community groups, faculty at other institutions, the press, and possible funders might all fit within this category of stakeholders.

Step Four: Create a Stakeholder Analysis Chart

The Stakeholder analysis chart can also be a computerized table or spreadsheet. It is a tool to help you define how OE will affect each of your stakeholders, so that you can begin to craft your message for each stakeholder group. A sample heading row for an analysis chart is included here.

Stakeholder Analysis Chart
Stakeholder Names and Roles How important? (Low – Med – High) Current level of support? (Low – Med – High) What do you want from stakeholders? What is important to stakeholders? How could stakeholders block your efforts? What is your strategy for enhancing stakeholder support?

Use the table headers describe in the table above to begin to analyze who your stakeholders are. Once you have crafted who stakeholders are, and you have described how they can influence and support your project, you can begin to craft messages to reach your stakeholders.

 


This page was written by Quill West for Library as Open Education Leader, it is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license and contains content from a variety of sources published under a variety of open licenses, including:

  • Content created by Adrienne Watt, originally published at “Project Management” (CC-BY 4.0, download at http://opentextbc.ca/projectmanagement/)

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