How to Create a Stakeholder Strategy

They state that “if the diverse objectives of various claimants are to be considered by the business firm, or any organization, in determining their own objectives, some methodology is essential. Otherwise, consideration of clientele may be reduced to value musings about what they want to get out of us… . However, the essentials as well as the implications of applying such a perspective are not clear, as the existing literature is inconclusive. The aim of this article is to help new and seasoned researchers as well as practitioners (such as managers, consultants, and educators) within management by clarifying core concepts and offering propositions relevant for discussions and future research. Barney (2018) takes the discussion in a slightly different direction when he couples the resource‐based theory with a stakeholder perspective.

  1. The most efficient companies successfully manage the interests and expectations of all their stakeholders.
  2. Managing stakeholders is easy if you follow the right stakeholder management steps.
  3. Rhenman (1973) considered the case study as pioneer work and saw his contribution as “to suggest languages … which can be used to describe important sub-systems of an organization in great detail” (Rhenman, 1973, p. xviii).
  4. According to Rhenman (1968), “management is usually the group most inclined to identify itself with the organization and to fight for its survival, expansion and future security” (p. 26).
  5. The Wharton School had already begun a “stakeholder project” in its Applied Research Center in 1977; it applied an action research model to generate stakeholder theory from real cases (Freeman & Reed, 1983).
  6. Start by seeking feedback from employees, customers, and executive leaders to uncover hidden stakeholders and understand their concerns.

An engaged and excited stakeholder creates momentum for the entire initiative and frees product managers from feeling like they’re Don Quixote taking on windmills. Once you identify your project stakeholders, it’s time for the stakeholder analysis phase. You’ll also need to begin estimating their level of involvement and influence in your project to prepare stakeholder communication strategies and prioritize them. A successful stakeholder management strategy depends on strong, productive stakeholder engagement. This involves proactive engagement with stakeholders throughout the various phases of a project.

Investment can grant shareholders the right to regular financial information about an organization and to participate in business decisions. Stakeholders are people interested in your company, ranging from employees to loyal customers and investors. They broaden the pool of people who care about the well-being of your company, making you less alone in your entrepreneurial work.

Create a free account to unlock this Template

The ability to weave through contrasting opinions stems from understanding each stakeholder’s specific desires and communicating their reasoning to ensure it is not perceived as preferential treatment. A stakeholder map will allow you to visually interpret how often you need to stay in contact with each stakeholder, how closely you should manage them and how to keep them satisfied and/or informed. To create a stakeholder map, you would define a few important dimensions, then build quadrants for the dimensions you want to optimize and group the stakeholder in that map, Mattmann explained.

What is the Difference Between Internal Stakeholders vs. External Stakeholders?

“You don’t ever want to let their interest wane because they’re the most important people,” he said. After collecting this raw data from interviews, the team would review the information from these discussions and start interpreting it. This is when the team might lay out a lot of sticky notes on the wall and start grouping them by requirement or, alternatively, use a software tool to outline the raw data.

They collect taxes from the company, its employees, and from other spending the company does. Suppose the corporation was engaged in behavior with negative effects on the community’s environment and safety, such as air pollution. The members of the community could gather and stakeholders business definition protest the company’s practices and pressure the company to alter its actions. At the end of the day, the corporation’s financial results and having strategic communication to justify each decision is the determinant of whether differences in opinions become problematic.

An important conceptual contribution to strategic management thinking is offered by Savage, Nix, Whithead, and Blair (1991), who give suggestions for strategies to assess and manage organizational stakeholders. The authors (building on Freeman, 1984, and implicitly also on Rhenman, 1968) emphasize that stakeholders have the potential to help or harm an organization by providing or withholding contributions. The potential is determined by the stakeholder’s capacity and opportunity to contribute to or threaten the organization (Savage et al., 1991).

As the project plan changes, just send an updated one to your stakeholders and keep them in the loop. Managing stakeholders and their expectations is an important part of project management. You need to keep stakeholders updated but you don’t want them interrupting the important work of managing the project. Not only does ProjectManager offer software but also free templates for every stage of your project. Identifying the stakeholders in your project is key as the project’s success depends on it.

“That way, we’re managing our stakeholders not because they’re the most influential—they’re not the ones that are giving us the most money—but they do have a lot of interest in getting their data out there,” he added. “Part of stakeholder analysis is to do the interviews, design work, brainstorming, and then to map the results of that against your core requirements defined by the sponsors of the project and see if we can build them,” Mattmann explained. Once you compare the different feedback from stakeholders, you may find it doesn’t match up to the core requirements of the project. This might mean readjusting the project scope or reevaluating the direction of the project, but a stakeholder analysis will allow you to figure this out before the project begins. Customers, suppliers, employees, communities, and the people who finance the business are all examples of stakeholders. In 1995, Freeman identified a hidden assumption in most business theories and named it the Separation Thesis.


Whereas shareholders are often the party with the most direct and obvious interest at stake in business decisions, they are one of various subsets of stakeholders, as customers and employees also have stakes in the outcome. In the most developed sense of stakeholders in terms of real corporate responsibility, the bearers of externalities are included in stakeholdership. According to Freeman and colleagues (2020), 21st-century executives already understand that “having shared values and shared purpose, a long-term orientation, consciously building trust and fostering agility in the system lead to greater value creation. It is not stakeholders versus shareholders, or economic versus social value. In today’s business world, ‘and’ is the most important word” (Freeman et al., 2020, p. 226). In 1995, Donaldson and Preston published an article that has since been highly cited.

Propositions for a Stakeholder Perspective

It could be that a given focal organization is merely complying with the requirements outlined in a permission granted by a local authority. Two American researchers who have had a major influence on the field of project management, William R. King and David I. Cleland, worked in the field of corporate planning during the 1970s. When King earned a PhD in 1964 in Operations Research, his doctoral supervisor was the previously mentioned contributor to stakeholder thinking, Russell L. Ackoff. The authors mention that managerial thinkers such as Churchman (1968) and McConnell (1971) believe, like themselves, that the organizational clientele of a company should function as the basic foundation for setting business objectives and strategies. An important contribution of the King and Cleland (1978) book is that they propose a method for analyzing “‘clientele groups,’ ‘claimants,’ or ‘stakeholders’ of the organization” (p. 149) based on their work in project management.

Who are the 5 main stakeholders in a business?

You’ll want to start this process as soon as the project charter is created. Managing stakeholders is easy if you follow the right stakeholder management steps. Here are the steps that any project manager should follow when managing stakeholder relations. As we mentioned, there are many types of stakeholders, many of which fall under the internal or external stakeholder categories. Projects often have several major stakeholders with different interests and values.

He or she has to stick to and consider human rights and other possible restrictions against harmful use. The landowner needs to protect the interests of others including the broader society. As can be seen from Table 1, it is worth noticing that of the mentioned books in English, only Industrial Democracy and Industrial Management (Rhenman, 1968) explicitly uses the word stakeholders. However, when reading the other books, it becomes quite clear that they are rooted in stakeholder thinking as well.

A good place to start figuring out who your stakeholders are is by reviewing the project charter, which documents the reason for the project and appoints the project manager. Among the information about objects, budget, schedule, assumptions, constraints, project sponsors and top management, you can discern the stakeholders. A stakeholder is a person, like any other member of the project, and some are easier to manage than others. You’ll have to learn to use stakeholder mapping techniques to identify who your key stakeholders are and make sure you meet their requirements.

more insights