Module 14: Stakeholder Analysis

What is a stakeholder analysis? A stakeholder analysis (also called “stakeholder mapping”) systematically identifies those individuals or groups who have an interest in a project, project outcomes, or the project’s target population. These individuals or groups may also act as opinion leaders or gatekeepers to valuable information and key informants that are vital to the success of a program.(1)

Stakeholder analysis (SA) is widely used in program management and, therefore, the skill of performing an SA is beneficial in all disciplines. Although it can be performed at almost any time during project development, implementation, or evaluation, it is argued that SA should be performed during the initial stages of the process to increase the benefits of the analysis.(2) Doing so may allow program implementers to prevent miscommunications about project objectives by communicating with vested groups from the outset. Early SA may also help to overcome barriers, such as aggressive public opinion, bribery or “rent paying,” and limited access to populations, thereby saving time and project funds.(3)

How to Perform a Stakeholder Analysis

The goal of a stakeholder analysis is not only to identify all relevant stakeholders but also to ascertain the expectations, concerns, and priorities of the stakeholders.(4) The first step in the process is to brainstorm a list of stakeholders, including any and all individuals or groups with an interest in the program or program outputs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest three broad categories to consider when brainstorming the list of stakeholders:  those involved in the program operations (program staff, funders), those served by the program (clients, advocacy groups, communities), and intended users of the program evaluation (policy makers, funders).(5) The following chart can also serve as a guide for developing a more comprehensive list. It is important to remember that beneficiaries of the program should also be considered stakeholders. If working with a partner organization or unfamiliar community, a local contact should be consulted to ensure that all possible stakeholders are considered.

Source: Overseas Development Institute, 2009. Accessed on 21 June 2019.

The second step in a stakeholder analysis is to categorize the list of stakeholders based on the amount of interest they have in the program and the amount of power the individual or group possesses, as it relates to the program. Although there are many methods of categorization, one strategy is to distribute stakeholders across a matrix that maps power, interest, and relation to other stakeholders.(6) The matrix below shows these dimensions and, subsequently, how much contact program managers should intend to have with the corresponding stakeholders.


Source: Thompson, R. (n.d.) Stakeholder analysis: Winning support for your projects. Accessed on 21 June 2019.

In some cases, this categorization cannot be completed until stakeholder data is collected. Data may be collected via surveys or interviews administered to stakeholders or secondary data sources, like existing documents or literature, can be used, as well.(7) Once this has been completed, the matrix, or other format for categorization, can be populated. The last step is to analyze observations gleaned from the matrix and apply findings to program improvement.

Schmeer (1999) gives an example of how data collected from stakeholders may be used to improve the quality of stakeholder communication, which in turn improves the quality of the project. Proper stakeholder analysis should clarify the level of existing knowledge among stakeholders. Particularly, awareness of relevant health issues and program elements can be measured by survey responses or content review of existing documents. This knowledge can be rated on a scale and then used to tailor specific communication regarding elements of the evaluation process. This knowledge rating can also be compared to which stakeholders are most or least in support of the project or policy implementation;  bi-variate comparison will allow for increased information about the topic to be sent to those stakeholders who are least supportive and least knowledgeable about the topic, in an effort to sway them in the right direction.(8) Simply understanding the relation between measures of interest and power among stakeholders may be sufficient for project implementation or evaluation. An even broader qualitative knowledge base of stakeholders can be obtained by communicating directly with local experts. The need for further analysis from stakeholder data will depend on the goals of the project managers and extent of stakeholder support. Regardless, the information collected in stakeholder analysis will be used throughout the course of the project

Case Study: Using a Stakeholder Analysis to Determine Institutional Influence on Food Control Programs in Mauritius(9)

Researchers in Mauritius wanted to determine the status of the National Food Control Program (NFCP) and whether a stakeholder analysis would serve as a useful tool in evaluating similar programs. A pre-existing, comprehensive list of stakeholders was used as a sampling frame to set up questionnaire-based interviews, soliciting information about views of and satisfaction with the NFCP. Stakeholders included representatives of the food industry, consumer organizations, trade organizations, and the Ministry of Health. Topics for the questionnaire were drawn from previous food control surveys from other countries during the initial literature review, and included enforcement of food law, administration of food law, information flow, and self-regulation in the food industry.

Stakeholders were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 7 their judgment of a particular statement. An example statement assessed the enforcement of food law using a Likert scale where 1 indicated "very poor" and 7 indicated "very good." The results of these questionnaires provided insight into the views and opinions of stakeholders, which then could be used to populate a matrix (similar to the matrix shown above). Researchers also used statistically significant differences between opinions to elucidate potential problems with the control program, such as poor information flow between control program managers and other stakeholders. Findings at this stage exemplified how stakeholder analysis could be implemented effectively at mid-project cycle. Researchers found the analysis process to be useful in evaluating the NFCP and informing future communications with stakeholders. 

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(1) Thompson, R. (n.d.). Stakeholder analysis: Winning support for your projects. Accessed on 21 June 2019.

(2) The World Bank Group. (2001). Stakeholder analysis. Anticorruption: Governance and Political Economy. Accessed on 21 June 2019.

(3) Schmeer, K. (2000). Stakeholder analysis guidelines. Washington, DC: Partners for Health Reform. Abt Associates Inc. Accessed on 21 June 2019.

(4) Bamberger, M., Rugh, J., and Mabry, L. (2006). Real world evaluation: Working under budget, time, data, and political constraints. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

(5) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2006). Introduction to program evaluation for public health programs: Evaluating appropriate antibiotic use programs. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed on 21 June 2019.

(6) Hyder, A., Syed, S., Puvanachandra, P., Bloom, G., Sundaram, S., Mahmod, S., Iqbal, M., Hongwen, Z., Ravichandran, N., Oladepo, O., Pariyo, G., and Peters, D. (2010). Stakeholder analysis for health research: Case studies from low- and middle-income countries. Public Health, 124:159-166.

(7) Malaria Consortium. (2010). iCCM in Mozambique: InSCALE stakeholder analysis report. Accessed on 21 June 2019.

(8) Schmeer, K. (1999). Guidelines for conducting a stakeholder analysis. Bethesda, MD: Partnerships for Health Reform, Abt Associates Inc. Accessed on 21 June 2019.

(9) Neeliah, S.A., Goburdhun, D., and Neeliah, H. (2008). Using a stakeholder analysis to assess to Maurtian food control system. RECIIS Electronic Journal of Communication Information and Innovation in Health, 2(2):17-29.