Corporate Impact Management

Stakeholder Relationship Management

 

So far we have talked mainly about engagement as if it were an occasional exercise or even a one-off project. However it is critical to remember that the day-to-day interactions with stakeholder-groups will be more significant in moulding a relationship than occasional consultations. As such there has been more interest in this area recently. Managing a dialogue and on-going relationship for mutual benefit is known as Stakeholder Relationship Management.  The quality of the relationship will vary depending on the quality of the engagement and the value of stakeholder’s ‘stake’.

 

Levels of Engagement

Many factors can contribute to the quality of an engagement but fundamentally those who become engaged must feel respected and listened too if they are to continue to engage. Sherry R Arnstein in 1969 developed the concept of the ‘Ladder of Participation’. This has been much adapted and refined over the years but essentially it highlights that there is a spectrum of levels of engagement in the various common activities presented as stakeholder participation in decision-making. These levels range from the manipulation of participants through tokenism and theatre; and ending with only a small number that have a degree of genuine participation and influence. Stakeholder-groups are much more sensitive to this scale than many imagine. Honesty about the limitations of any engagement is much more likely to lead to on-going engagement as it is at least respectful if not hugely powerful.

 

Types of ‘Stake’

As already mentioned the stakeholder’s perception of the value of their ‘stake’ in any decision or organisation is also critical. A local community is likely to engage with a company whose operations directly affect congestion on the roads by their house. However, they are less likely to engage in discussions with the same company around exactly how waste water is treated. The waste water issue may actually have a greater impact on that community but its affects are less immediate and apparent and so there is a lower perceived value placed on their stake in such discussions. Often perception is as important as the reality and so some time may have to be spent addressing this disconnection if you are looking for genuine engagement. As a result making a relationship feel more tangible can sometimes be important. For example, a number of businesses have done this through employee share issues so that staff feel they have a bigger stake in the business and will participate more readily in initiatives to improve organisational performance.

 

Value Management

The need to understand what stakeholders value in their relationships with an organisation has led to the development of the relatively new fields of ‘Stakeholder Value Management’ and ‘Creating Shared Value’. There are essentially a more comprehensive approach to the establish principle of Value Chain Management with a view to creating mutual benefit.  Value management highlights the fact that different stakeholder groups may place different values on the same kinds of impact. While this can presents considerable complications it also creates the opportunity to maximise the return on investment by focussing such investment on that which is more highly valued by the relevant stakeholders.

 

 

 

IN THIS TOPIC:

Overview

Stakeholder Identification

Stakeholder Analysis

Stakeholder Engagement

>Stakeholder Relationship Management<

 

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