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How to engage with stakeholders 15 October 2013

Posted by cooperatoby in EU, social economy.
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Policies generally work better if you involve their stakeholders in defining, implementing and monitoring them – so much is generally held to be true. But in the hurly-burly of actually making policies, it’s easy to forget to ask the users and beneficiaries for their views. This issue came to my mind as we discussed strategic partnership and governance at the SEN peer review in Trento in September. I remembered that three years ago INBAS and Engender did a study for the EC on stakeholder involvement in the ‘social OMC‘ (open method of co-ordination). It looked at:
– who the stakeholders are
– what involving them means
– what tools exist for the purpose

Two tables set out the gist of the matter. First, how serious are we in involving stakeholders? The study drew on the Public Participation Spectrum, developed by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) which defines five levels of engagement, saying exactly what we mean by information, consultation, involvement collaboration and (that vaguely used term) empowerment:
degrees of stakeholder engagement

Secondly, what actions make stakeholder involvement real? here. The study analysed 23 aspects:
Aspects of stakeholder engagement

Notice that some key issues are often forgotten: what better way to demotivate the people you consult than by never telling them the use you made of their comments? So always feed back to them how you handled their contributions. And what better way to stymie debate by never publishing the background documents in the first place?

The key outputs of the study are set out in a handy leaflet, and the full documents along with a selection of ‘interesting practices’ are on the website too.

Footnote

A propos the study, I notice that the EC’s idea of ‘Elaborating voluntary guidelines on stakeholders’ involvement’, action 49 of the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion, has been “delayed” (see ‘ongoing actions‘).

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