EiJ Case Study Framework: Question 4

Who are stakeholders, what are their characteristics, and what are their perceptions of the problems?

What is a stakeholder?

Stakeholders are individuals, groups or organizations that have a stake in a problem or project. They are affected by the problem (positively or negatively) or have an interest in the outcomes of interventions in the problem. There are both local and non-local stakeholders. Residents, plant workers, schools, hospitals, local businesses, companies, first responders, and government agencies are stakeholders in environmental problems in many places, for example. The International Atomic Energy Administration -- though headquartered in Vienna, Austria -- is a stakeholder in problems associated with nuclear power plants in many settings around the world (as in Fukushima). 

Lists of stakeholders should be as detailed as possible. Instead of listing “community members” as a stakeholder, for example, think about diving even deeper -- treating local officials, health professionals, parent-teacher associations, etc. as different stakeholder groups. This passage from an article about alternatives to hydrofluoric acid use in refinery operations provides just part of the list of stakeholders for Torrance, California.

Their [activists] efforts have encouraged the local Air Quality Monitoring District to investigate the refinery’s safety claims and to nudge the EPA to review its risk management plans. The federal Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has also subpoenaed former Torrance owner ExxonMobil for additional information regarding MHF, and U.S. Representatives Maxine Waters and Ted Lieu, whose districts contain portions of Torrance, have both pressed for a federal probe into the 2015 explosion and the refinery’s safety claims — partly based on evidence uncovered by the citizen sleuths.

Stakeholder Power Grid

The primary sketch associated with this question asks researchers to identify the catalysts and corrosions of stakeholders, as well as their perception of the problems facing the community. Catalysts are factors that enable the stakeholder group to get what they want and might include money, reputation, or political power. Corrosions are factors that undermine the stakeholder group's ability to get what they want and might include lack of money or status, youth, gender, lack of organization, or lack of class consciousness. The goal of this exercise is to draw out who has power, who lacks power, and where change might be possible (or difficult).


Example of a stakeholder power grid analysis.