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Stakeholder Mapping: Definition & Importance

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Instructor: Lori Forrest

Lori has taught college Finance, Operations and Business courses for over five years. She has a master's degree in both Accounting and Project Management.

In business, stakeholder mapping is a visual technique used to identify and prioritize an organization's stakeholders. Learn more about the definition, importance, and four-step process of stakeholder mapping. Updated: 12/08/2021

Stakeholder Mapping

Imagine you are a young bride or groom and are meeting with your wedding planner to determine who you will invite to your wedding. While you have lots of friends and family, the location you have chosen for the wedding will only hold just over 40 people. How do you decide who gets invited? The first step is to make a list of all the people that are potential guests. This process is similar to a business concept called stakeholder mapping. Organizations must define who their stakeholders are that will be considered when making important business decisions.

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  • 0:03 Stakeholder Mapping
  • 0:36 Who Are Your Stakeholders?
  • 1:32 Four-Step Process
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Who Are Your Stakeholders?

There are many different definitions of a stakeholder. Stakeholders can be internal or external, but they are those individuals or groups who can affect the success of the organization in some way. Stakeholder mapping is a dynamic process, and the definition of an organization's stakeholders will change as the business environment, stakeholder requirements, and opinions change.

Depending on the organization, the following could be possible stakeholders: owners, customers, employees, suppliers, competitors, industry leaders, community, environment, government, and other organizations. If we consider our wedding scenario, stakeholders could be the bride's parents and siblings, the groom's parents and siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, best friends, family friends, co-workers, and any other family or friend whom the bride or groom would consider including in their special day.

Stakeholder Mapping Is a Four-Step Process

Stakeholder mapping is a four-step process of:

  • Identifying groups, organizations, and people who are stakeholders
  • Analyzing stakeholders' perspectives and interest
  • Mapping the relationship between stakeholders and company objectives
  • Prioritizing and ranking stakeholders

Step 1: Identifying Your Stakeholders

The first step in stakeholder mapping is to identify your stakeholders. The process requires knowledgeable people who understand the importance of developing this list. Consider past stakeholders as well as future stakeholders. Is the company entering new markets? Is there new technology involved? Are there new customers? How are they relevant to the business? Be as diverse as possible to ensure a broad range of experience, locations, influence, and expectations. Focus on reaching the smaller, in some cases hidden, stakeholders that can bring a unique perspective. Create a final list of stakeholders before you proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Analyzing and Understanding Your Stakeholders' Perspective

Business Social Responsibility has identified five criteria to help improve your analysis.

Ask yourself:

  1. What contribution does each stakeholder offer?
  2. How can they help the company?
  3. Does the stakeholder have a true stake in the future success of the organization?
  4. How willing are they to participate?
  5. To what extent does their influence affect the analysis?

It is recommended to create a decision matrix that will allow you to map and compare each stakeholder against the others. This analysis should give you an idea who to include as you move to Step 3.

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