Stakeholder analysis as a communication tool

By Priya Chetty on August 25, 2014
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Stakeholder analysis is an approach, tool or set of tools used for creating knowledge about the project participants such as individuals and organizations, in a bid to understand their behavior, intentions, interrelations and interests. Furthermore stakeholder analysis can be used for evaluating:

  • The participant’s influence.
  • Resources that the participants bring.
  • And their authority in the decision making or implementation process.

The information from the stakeholder analysis can be utilized to:

  • Help understand how policies have developed and to evaluate the feasibility of future policy directions.
  • Facilitate the implementation of projects, specific decisions or organizational objectives.
  • And develop strategies for managing important stakeholders (Varvasovszky and Brugha, 2000, p.338).

Project teams must consider stakeholder management as a vital component of a risk management plan. At the same time it is also noticeable that although stakeholder management and communication management are not direct components of risk management, they add to the integrated whole towards the successful management of a project (Bourne and Walker, 2005). Hence, stakeholder analysis and management by means of extending targeted communication strategies should be the foremost part in managing stakeholders linked risks for successfully completing a project.

Project managers in the organization have the foremost accountability of the planning, execution and supervising of project communication. Their role as communicators encompasses stakeholder management, the project life cycle management and performance management. In this framework, project managers might be perceived as an integrator who links together the phases and activities of a project, observes stakeholder’s interests, and supervises the project team’s routine job. Contemporary projects have a number of stakeholders as interest groups, each with different personal interests in the project. Project managers have to be responsive of various communication aspects. This is demonstrated in the Figure.

Communication aspects in a project. Source: Ruuska (1996, p.69).
Communication aspects in a project. Source: Ruuska (1996, p.69).

Project managers’ role as communicators is vital for the successful competition of a project. In fact project managers act as a first-class communicator in the project, keeping in mind the interests of all stakeholders such as investors, customers, related organisations, line managers etc. In this context, maintaining good communication and positive relations with stakeholders is both a resource and a tool in projects. The key to handling projects is communication and because of that, extensive knowledge about communication is one of the fundamental skills required in present day project managers.

Project managers as stakeholder analysis communicators

As per the existing literature regarding stakeholder analysis, there are various critical success factors that might be described as being vital to the successful implementation of stakeholder management. One of these many factors; efficient/smooth communication with stakeholders holds the key. In this context, the main issue relating to project stakeholder communication is the management of relationship between the project managers and its stakeholders (Jergeas et al., 2000; Aaltonen et al., 2008). The supposition is that communication is indispensable for the support and commitment of all stakeholders, where effectual, regular and planned communication with the individuals and organizations involved in the project is vital for project success. Further in this context Weaver (2007) argues that project managers must be highly skilled negotiators and communicators capable of managing individual stakeholder’s expectations and forming a positive culture transformation in the overall organization. Therefore, supposedly, for the successful accomplishment of a project, managers must ensure effective communication in order to communicate with and involve stakeholders appropriately and recurrently. However, existing research literature does not explore much in this regard, particularly with reference to the importance of risk management in projects using Stakeholder Analysis as a communication tool. In future studies can attempt to critically examine the importance of risk management in projects using Stakeholder Analysis as a communication tool, with reference to the roles played in successfully completing the project and achieving the project goals.


  • Bourne, L., Walker, D. (2005). The Paradox of Project Control, Team Performance Management Journal 11(5/6), 157-178, Summer 2005.
  • Bourne, L. and Walker, D. (2005). Visualizing and mapping stakeholder influence. Management Decision, 43(5), 649-660.
  • Ruuska, K. (1996). “Project Communication”. [online]. Available at Last accessed on 26th May 2014.
  • Varvasovszky, Z. and Brugha, R. (2000). A stakeholder Analysis, Health Policy and Planning, 15(3)338-345; Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Weaver, P. (2007). Getting the Soft Stuff Right-Effective Communication is the Key to Successful Project Outcome, PMI Global Congress (North America ), October 6-9, 2007.


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