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Making sense of stakeholder management

Considering and understanding stakeholders and then acting to engage them is generally agreed as being one of the most critical parts of any managed change initiative. Unless a thorough account is taken of the stakeholders in the project, there is the chance of later disruption to plans. The literature is full of examples of major corporations falling foul of some elementary rules on stakeholder management. In one Swedish example, a rail improvement project was set back almost seven years because the project manager decided that it was unnecessary to consult those who would be affected; after all, they were merely private households, so what could they do? There is often a simple reason for stakeholder relationships to fail: it can be put down to the lack of a systematic analysis, stakeholder participation and the methods and tools for this purpose. A proper understanding of stakeholders can be achieved through a more developed approach based on stakeholder participation than, for example, the rather simple stakeholder assessment based on a power vs. interest model to determine who is for and who is against.

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