What is Stakeholder Network Analysis?

Stakeholder network analysis can be used to identify which stakeholders, namely, organisations and individuals, are connected to each other and how they are connected. The technique can also be used to measure the quality of these connections (i.e. relationships, collaborations), and the information used to strengthen ties and improve the efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of the network.

The methodology involves the application of Social Network Analysis which investigates the interactions between individuals or organisations or stakeholders in different settings. Social network analysis (SNA) provides a set of theories, techniques and tools useful for understanding a broad range of behaviours as people and organisations interact with others.

For example, in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), Stakeholder Network Analyses can identify the organisations involved in implementing programmes and how they are linked; describe the structure and characteristics of the network—how its participants communicate with each other and how influential they are; and identify areas and strategies to strengthen the participation of key stakeholders.

A visual representation of the network helps members to better understand the network and identify priorities to make the network more robust and collaborative—for example, by establishing relationships between stakeholders that are disconnected, identifying areas where new stakeholders need to be recruited, and facilitating sharing of resources and knowledge. Understanding how a stakeholder network is organised can empower and promote self-management among the network members.

The term is often loosely defined as “People or organisations invested in the programme, interested in the results of the evaluation, and/or with a stake in what will be done with the results of the evaluation”. In health, key stakeholders might include:
  • Government -- not only the Ministry of Health or Department of Health, but other departments such as Finance, Treasury, Education, etc;
  • Non-governmental organisations and not-for-profit sector community groups and civil society organisations business and the private sector;
  • Political parties;
  • Local government;
  • Health insurance groups and other health care funders;
  • Donors and aid agencies, including global health initiatives;
  • UN agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO);
  • Health workers 'organisations & health care providers' networks patients and health service users.
When thinking about who you stakeholders are, the following categories might help:
  • Those involved in programme operations: Management, programme staff, partners, funding agencies, coalition members.
  • Those served or affected by the programme: Patients or clients, advocacy groups, community members, elected officials.
  • Those who are intended users of the evaluation findings: Persons in a position to make decisions about the programme, such as partners, funding agencies, coalition members, and the general public or taxpayers.
Levels of Engagement: Primary, secondary and key stakeholders: A common framework for defining or categorising stakeholders is by assigning them as primary, secondary, or key stakeholders (see ODA, 1995).
  • A Primary Stakeholder is one that will be affected by a project’s outcomes either positively (beneficiary) or negatively (e.g. those involuntarily displaced).
  • Secondary Stakeholders are the intermediaries in the delivery process of outcomes.
  • Key Stakeholders are those who will be significantly affected by the project.
The IOSP Framework: An alternative framework for identifying stakeholders is the In/Out/Seeker/Provider (IOSP) Framework (Varda et al, 2009), which is similar to a stakeholder matrix, helping to identify the actors and their roles.