• July 27, 2022

Examining the Importance of Stakeholders in Policymaking

Individual stakeholders and the institutions they represent are central to policymaking. From government leaders to media personalities to departmental agencies, stakeholders should be recognized for their ability to offer crucial support that can change the tide.

Who Are the Stakeholders Involved in Policymaking?

Regarding policymaking specifically, stakeholders are those who care about or are otherwise affected by that policy; it also includes those involved in creating policy. Because they have an interest in the outcome of policymaking, it’s important to identify stakeholders when trying to enact change. These individuals and organizations are more likely to want to get involved because they are the ones who will reap the benefits or experience negative consequences depending on the outcome. While these types of stakeholders are both influential in their own right, the main difference between the two lies in who makes up these groups.

Individual Stakeholders

Individual stakeholders include community members impacted by policy, policymakers, and others who can affect the outcome of policymaking, such as media personalities. They may be from the public sector and include legislators, heads of state and health, education or finance administrators. They may also be representatives of organizations, such as advocacy groups.

Stakeholder Institutions

At the institution level, stakeholders include organizations and institutions that are involved in policymaking or are directly impacted by the proposed policy. These institutions may include branches of the government or departmental agencies, such as the Department of Education.

Outside of the government, stakeholder institutions also include grassroots organizations, nonprofits, donor groups, and academic and research organizations, among others. In general, stakeholder institutions have a broader reach than individual stakeholders and are often vital for driving policy change.

Underscoring the Importance of Stakeholder Engagement in Public Policy

Connecting and communicating with stakeholders is key to effective advocacy. After all, public policy can be changed by moving those with a stake in the outcome toward action. Start by identifying relevant stakeholders by mapping key contacts and determining which individuals and organizations are likely to be the most influential and impactful. From there, teams can be built and strategies can be developed.

Engaging stakeholders also makes it possible to more thoroughly understand the nuance surrounding policy issues. This is because stakeholders often come with a certain amount of expertise, either from personal impact and experiences or because they’ve already done considerable work related to the issue at hand. The ideal scenario is to work with the stakeholders, leveraging their insights alongside your own or that of your organization so that everyone involved shares a sense of ownership that will drive advocacy forward.

By engaging with stakeholders, it becomes easier to:

  • Keep the issue at hand top of mind: Stakeholders are generally the most motivated due to their potential to impact and be impacted by the policy changes in question.
  • Encourage long-term support: Again, due to their vested interest, stakeholders are more likely to stick with an advocacy campaign for the long haul.
  • Build mutually beneficial relationships that can lead to increased support: Relationships with stakeholders are often symbiotic. They lend support to a cause because they are impacted by it. In turn, you can work alongside them to refine your goals to be in the best interest of the community that will be affected. You can also leverage the connections and contacts of various stakeholders for additional support.
  • Increase the success of your campaign to drive policy change: The more individuals and organizations that are brought on board, the more success a cause will see. Remember that stakeholders also include policymakers themselves; getting those individuals on your side can make a big difference.
  • Use stakeholders as an educational resource to improve your strategy: As much as you offer information, research, and guidance to your stakeholders, they may also be able to provide timely insights and important facets of the issue you hadn’t considered due to their closeness to it.

Managing Stakeholders is a Dynamic Process, But It’s Worth It

Identifying, organizing and managing stakeholders can be daunting, but the value these individuals and institutions present is indispensable. With this in mind, advocacy and government relations professionals often turn to platforms like Capitol Canary that can help them track and map key stakeholders to ensure they can reap the benefits they have to offer. By leveraging a system to map key contacts, their relationships, where they are most influential and what they are willing to do for a cause, you can play an active role in driving policy change and ensure you’re working with stakeholders who want to do the same to maximize value.