Stakeholder engagement: when in the research

Purpose: To provide guidance on the contributions that stakeholders can make before, during and after the research.

Description: Stakeholders have different contributions to make before, during and after the research. Most stakeholders will be involved at particular times for particular tasks, rather than throughout the whole research process.

It can be helpful to specifically consider when stakeholders can most appropriately contribute and how. The following table taken from Durham et al. (2014, p. 56) provides useful guidance. The roles identified in the table should be seen as indicative only, as different projects will have different requirements. In addition, some roles will be undertaken by several stakeholders and some stakeholders will have multiple roles during the research.

durham-2014_definitions-stakeholder-roles-during-life-cycle-of- project

For any research project this can be developed into a matrix, with identified tasks and stakeholders, as in the example presented in Durham et al. (2014, p. 74).

durham-2014_example-matrix-planning-for-different-levels-of-engagement

Durham et al. (2014, p.75) provide the following list of questions to help consider the practicalities of proceeding with the tasks identified in such a matrix:

  • Are the timeframes for each activity realistic, including preparation and reviewing and analysis?
  • Who will be responsible for the engagement – are different people to be responsible for different parts of it?
  • How much staff time will be required? Is this time available? What will it cost?
  • What are the costs of using external expertise (if desired/required)? What are the administrative costs, including hiring venues, making phone calls, provision of documents, etc.?
  • Are stakeholders to be reimbursed for their time? Are their expenses to be covered? Are there other costs associated with communication and publishing information, including recording and providing feedback to stakeholders?
  • How might the local culture or customs affect or restrict the engagement process? What contingencies need to be included in case engagement needs to change during the process, and what might different options mean to overall time-scales and costs?

A final consideration is that timing in response to external events can be critical, both in influencing the extent to which research is seen as relevant to different stakeholders and in affecting how research findings are used in decision making processes. Opportunities to be influential often arise at times that are unexpected, such as feeding into election manifestos and helping addresses crises. Although it may be difficult, the research process should try to be responsive to unexpected opportunities.

Reference:

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  • See all the tools with titles starting with “Stakeholder engagement” and “Stakeholder analysis.”

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Posted: July 2020
Last modified: July 2020