Four principles of
stakeholder network analysis

1. Social domains are complex networks comprising stakeholders who compete for outcomes in the domain by exercising influence on each other.

  • Every social domain is comprised of stakeholders (individuals, groups of individuals, public and private organisations, government).
  • Social domains are complex systems: systemic, in that they are comprised of players interacting in a way that is self-organising, self-sustaining and establishes a boundary; and complex, in that there are multiple actors, with multiple agendas, multiple technologies of interaction. A level of uncertainty is assumed.
  • Social domains are value-neutral: (networks don’t “kiss or kill”)
  • Regulation = “any behaviour intended to control, order or influence the behaviour of others”
  • A social domain can be represented as a meta-regulatory network where each of the nodes are stakeholders and they are interconnected by relations of influence.
Analysis tool: Meta-regulatory mapping

2. Stakeholders have different capacities to influence, which are amenable to investigation and analysis.

  • Capacities to influence may be actual or potential
  • Investigation of stakeholder capacity can yield theory about their influential salience within the domain.
Analysis tool: NATO capacity assessment
Analysis tool: Agenda identity profile

3. Stakeholder practices of influence are amenable to investigation and analysis.

  • Nodes in a social domain strategically direct and receive vectors of influence from each other. We can investigate the content of these vectors.
  • A vector of influence is a product of the objectives and strategy of the influencing stakeholder. It will be driven by the values-based impetus of a rationality. It will be transmitted from the influencing stakeholder to the influenced stakeholder by a technology. Technologies of influence take many forms:  from laws, directives and rules, to standardised practice, and  subtlely expressed expectation.
  • A vector of influence generates response by the receiving stakeholder. This may be directed  internally, or externally either to a third party or the original influencing stakeholder. The response can range from outright compliance to outright resistance and counter-influence.
Analysis tool: Ethnography of influence.

4. The synthesis of the products of investigations into capacities to influence and practices of influence improves strategic decision-making by any stakeholder.

  • Stakeholder network analysis uniquely twins macro-discourse and micro-practice perspectives.
  • It is suitable for investigation of any social domain where political-nuanced, realist analysis would enlighten policy or strategy development.