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Discovering management
Discovering management

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1.4.4 Managing stakeholders

Having identified an organisation’s stakeholders and assessed their relative interest and power with regard to a specific issue or the organisation’s operations, the next step is to consider which strategies might be most appropriate in a range of given situations. The Mendelow/Johnson et al. matrix provides some clues, but Scholes (1998, p. 163) has identified nine stereotypical maps and suggests a range of ‘political mechanisms’ that might be most appropriate in each case.

The nine maps are presented in Figure 8, followed by a brief discussion of each. The fact that some quadrants remain empty is not an indication that there are no other stakeholders; rather that the maps are designed to show the dominant weight of stakeholder influence. Also, in some situations there may be hybrid maps where more than one stereotype coincides.

Described image
Figure 8 Scholes’ nine stakeholder maps
  • The political battleground – in this scenario there are many key stakeholders divided in their support and resistance to the issue. Potential management strategies include facilitating the dominance of supporters, breaking down resistance, or even ‘divide and rule’.
  • . The lone champion – in this scenario there is one powerful supporter, but the biggest threat is potential loss of the champion. Possible management strategies include extending the support base and maintaining participation.
  • The worthy cause – this situation is distinguished by high levels of interest from stakeholders who have little power. Potential management strategies include empowering the stakeholders and facilitating the creation of alliances.
  • The dream ticket – in this situation there are several powerful champions but no powerful opponents. The main danger here is one of complacency, so a strategy of keeping the stakeholders satisfied is a priority.
  • The dogged opponent – in this scenario there is one powerful opponent. Potential management strategies include breaking down their resistance or enlisting the support of a more powerful champion.
  • The political time bomb – in this situation there are several opponents of the strategy but with little power. One of the biggest dangers is underestimating their ability to gain support or build their own power base. The main management strategy here is to keep them informed.
  • The potential lost cause – in this scenario resistance is such that abandonment of any proposed strategy may be necessary. Although the main management strategy is to break down resistance, e.g., by building a coalition of support, the battle may not ultimately be winnable.
  • The political trap – this situation is characterised by low levels of interest among all powerful stakeholders. Potential management strategies include raising interest levels, keeping them satisfied or encouraging the emergence of a lone champion.
  • The autocrat’s dream – in this scenario stakeholders show little interest and have little power. However, complacency should be guarded against by continual monitoring of stakeholder reactions.

Stop and reflect

Thinking of your own organisation, who are the lone champions and/or dogged opponents? Identify a situation in which both lone champion and dogged opponent are in conflict with one another. Can you also think of a situation in which they may be one and the same person or even group?