With any initiative or endeavor,
stakeholders are those with an interest or "stake" in the initiative in addition to
those impacted by the initiative. This definition implies that someone may
be a stakeholder, but might not realize it.
Often, stakeholders inform decision
makers of how particular courses of action may adversely or positively
impact them, but other times they may be silent, or may be interested in
decisions that do not directly impact themselves.
Incorrect assumptions about stakeholders
can lead to confusion. For example, a speaker might look into the audience
and see no women, and then decide to make a joke about women that is
derogatory, thinking that none present would be offended. The speaker would
fail to realize that some of the men present may be offended by derogatory
remarks made about men, women, those of any race, etc. The speaker used
group membership to make an assumption about interest in a matter, and was
Failure to correctly identify
stakeholders early in a decision making process can lead to overlooked
interests. But mere identification of stakeholders may not be sufficient if
their interests are to be considered during decision making.
Do not confuse stakeholders with
shareholders (Richards, 2004): stakeholders have an interest in the concern;
shareholders own a part of the corporation. Thus, shareholders are typically
one group of stakeholders in corporate decisions. But one's obligations to
shareholders are different from the obligation to other stakeholders.
The New York State Teacher Certification
Examination for School Building Leaders is proof that some feel the ability
to identify stakeholders is important for school leaders. However, it
characterizes stakeholders only as those threatened by decisions:
knowledge of how to identify stakeholders who may find changes
threatening and develop strategies for addressing their concerns and
issues" (NYSDOE, 2006, p. 6).
Stakeholders include those who have a
stake in an issue, not just those who will likely be negatively disposed to
The World Bank
(1996) suggests that stakeholders
be thought of as "those affected by the outcome - negatively or positively -
or those who can affect the outcome of a proposed intervention" (p.
125). In their contexts, they suggest these be identified from:
But they also suggest that stakeholder
identification is context-specific, so their identification should be guided
by one's common sense and observations.
and Rozycki (1999) suggest that there are stakeholders of curriculum
development, including the following:
School Board Members
Outside Interest Groups
However, this list does not cover others
who might have an interest. Such groups could include:
But this list is incomplete, as well.
Furthermore, the category of "outside interest groups" can include a broad
range of professional, secular, political, and social groups.
The actual list of stakeholders would
likely include the names of particular associations, companies, civic
groups, and characteristics of people (such as those in a certain age
group.) That is, unlike the above lists, there would be specifics.
Advisors? In education and some other
contexts, there may be a tendency to confuse a list of stakeholders with a
list of advisors or advisory board members. To avoid this, think about "who
has a stake" in a matter, versus "who will provide information and advice"
in the matter. A curriculum expert from a different state may be on an
educational advisory board, but not otherwise be a stakeholder. A toddler in
a school district may be a stakeholder, but would not serve at that age on a
curriculum advisory board.
Managers, those leading initiatives, and
other administrators may seem like the logical choice for the ones responsible
to identify stakeholders. However, these leaders may not be in touch with
the variety of interests in their project, seeing it instead from their own
When a group or board identifies
stakeholders, they have the advantage of multiple viewpoints. However, in
some instances this could still result in too narrow a list.
One broader approach to stakeholder
identification can be seen the Ka'u to South Kona Water Master Plan in
Hawaii, where one of the tasks was to "Undertake a community consultation
and public participation process to identify stakeholders, and to conduct
interviews, special interest group meetings, and general public meetings" (Hawaii
County, 2003, Scope, ¶ 2).
The decision about who should identify
stakeholders should be made in regard to the nature and context of the
initiative, and in light of previous related initiatives and their
Models for Collecting
After stakeholders have been
identified, their mere existence and identification may, and some say
should, alter plans for the undertaking. However, this is a passive role
of stakeholders. A more active model would include methods for gaining
information from stakeholders to inform the process. There are many ways
this could be done, from informal meetings, to inclusion of stakeholders
on advisory committees, or even including a much more structured
approach. One example is seen where Kelsey and Pense (2001) adapted a
model suggested by Guba and Lincolk for collecting stakeholder input.
Those working with stakeholders are advised to read Kelsey and Pense's
methods and findings.
Stakeholder Impact Analysis
After stakeholders have been identified,
which might be an on-going process, their interests and concerns should be
brought to bear on the decision making at hand. Charles Hill and Gareth
Jones (cited by Pressley, 1998) identified the following steps of "stakeholder impact analysis":
Interests and Concerns
Identify Resulting Claims
Stakeholders Are Likely to Make
Identify Most Important
Stakeholders (From Organization's Perspective)
Identify the Resulting
Strategic Challenges" (Slide 5)
Clabaugh, G. K., & Rozycki, E. G. (1999). The foundations of
curriculum. Retrieved from August 23, 2009 from
County. (2003). Ka'u to South Kona water master plan. Hawaii Co., HI:
Author. Retrieved August 23, 2009 from
Kelsey, K. D., & Pense,
S. I., (2001). A model for gathering stakeholder input for setting
research priorities at the land-grant university. Journal of
Agricultural Education, 42(2), 18-27. Retrieved May 22, 2007
New York State Department of
Education. (2006). New York State teacher certification examinations:
Educational leadership assessments: Field 100: School building leader,
Part one - Field 101: School building leader, Part two - Assessment
framework. Retrieved May 22, 2007 from
Pressley, M. M. (1998). Chapter 2: Stakeholders and the corporate
mission. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved August 23, 2009 from
Richards, I. (2004).
Stakeholders versus shareholders: Journalism, business, and ethics. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 19(2), 119-130.
Bank. (1996). The World Bank participation sourcebook.
Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved August 23, 2009 from