The “Big Reveals” from Stakeholder Analysis can be Central to Effective Change

By Rosemary Lark, Practice Fellow, CJL

Stakeholders wield formal and informal power and influence that can importantly impact reform.  Neglecting to identify and understand their influence can lead to technically sound but politically unfeasible solutions; can cause you to partner with the wrong players, or to craft messages that hinder rather than help your efforts. Because CJL believes that Stakeholder Analysis is a critical tool in designing effective programs, we asked for your participation in a survey identifying which Stakeholder Analysis Tools are used most frequently by anti-corruption, integrity or governance practitioners.  

You responded. CJL’s hope was to identify the most commonly used tool for identifying the players who have formal and informal power in the community of interest and who can either enable anti-corruption efforts or effectively hinder them. What we found instead was perhaps more interesting. 

There is no common tool

The majority of respondents to our survey indicated that they custom-develop stakeholder analysis tools within their own organization to fit specific needs. And, those needs vary. All address ways to enhance the effectiveness of their anti-corruption efforts, but they do so at different stages in the program cycle and from different angles. Because we think that in itself is a valuable insight for anti-corruption program design, we want to share how a few of the responding organizations use stakeholder analysis tools to reveal hidden players and agendas, identify potential reform partners and craft messages that will enhance program effectiveness. Our hope is that these will inform and enhance the effectiveness of your own program efforts. 

Revealing Informal Actors and “Spoilers”

Both the Basel Institute on Governance and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) have developed stakeholder analysis tools to reveal the informal actors that may be embedded within or operating in the shadows of formal institutions.  At the Basel Institute, Claudia Baez Camargo and Dr. Saba Kassa use their “Power and Influence Analysis” tool to identify these informal players by conducting in-depth interviews and being alert to any suggestion that there are implementation gaps between how the system is supposed to run in theory and how it actually runs in practice.  While they may be hidden in the shadows, the influence of these informal actors is very real and can profoundly affect outcomes. A healthy respect for how and when to engage with them, to seek their support or, to steer clear, can mean the difference between developing solutions that are technically sound but politically unfeasible or, ones that have a real possibility for effecting change.

Kristen Sample and Corina Rebegea at NDI do the same with their “Post-Kleptocratic Transitions Assessment Framework. Their tool is tailored for reform efforts in transition environments, countries where a kleptocratic leader has left the scene and a reformer has taken over but changes may be yet only skin deep. This tool helps identify groups they call “spoilers” ­– corrupt illicit networks that are either exercising influence behind the scenes or, biding their time to regroup and reassert the influence they had in a previous kleptocratic administration. 

Revealing Potential Reform Partners

Stakeholder analysis tools can also be useful in brainstorming strategies, as they reveal potential reform partners whose influence could enhance the effectiveness and credibility of reform efforts.  Kaye Sklar at Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) manages “Lift”, a challenge program to motivate firms and governments from all over the world to bring procurement reform ideas to an OCP technical team that will help them with the implementation planning needed to achieve their goals.  Their Stakeholder Mapping tool, designed by Reboot, a design company based in NYC and Abuja, Nigeria, becomes a critical way for the two teams to develop a shared vision and then translate that vision into an implementation plan, including identifying individuals or offices that could be potential reform partners.

Similarly, David Mchembere, the Head of Ethics and Integrity at the Kenya Ports Authority, shared how his Stakeholder Engagement Matrix helps him identify internal and external stakeholders who possess both the expertise and influence needed to give his anti-corruption efforts credibility. It also becomes a critical part of his organization’s toolkit for establishing a risk-based approach to tackle corruption and encourage an ethical business climate.

Revealing Messages that Resonate

Impacto Social Metropolitan Group: Stakeholder Mapping Tool  

Rodolfo Cordova Alcaraz, Executive Vice President & Social Justice Co-Lead at Impacto Social Metropolitan Group (ISMG) in Mexico, uses stakeholder mapping to develop strategic communication strategies that drive change in areas such as justice reform, corruption, and refugee issues. When he maps actors who have the greatest influence and actors who are most strongly aligned with the goals of a program, he also works hard to identify players who might show resistance to these goals. Ultimately, ISMG wants to develop messaging that connects with all stakeholders. To do that, they focus on crafting meta-narratives that reflect both the core values commonly held across all groups and the proposed reform solution that they are seeking to achieve. When done effectively, that messaging creates a fertile field for subsequent reform initiatives. 

Are we missing anything?

As part of our efforts to bridge research and practice, CJL strives to share methodologies, tools and best practices with fellow anti-corruption, integrity and governance practitioners.  Thank you to all those who completed our Stakeholder Analysis survey. Your time and insights are appreciated.  

If you didn’t get a chance to complete the survey and have used or come across stakeholder analysis tools and methodologies that you consider valuable to share, we would really appreciate if you would be in touch


About the Author

Rosemary Lark is a Practice Fellow at the Corruption, Justice and Legitimacy Program. She is a longtime Financial Crime Compliance Practitioner based in Washington, DC. Rosemary is pursuing a one year, Master of Arts Degree in International Affairs for mid-career professionals at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University where she is focused on governance and corruption. You can contact her at Rosemary.Lark@tufts.edu


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