Step 3: Factors to influence stakeholders(1)

3.1. Change perceptions

Stakeholders respond to a range of incentives that arise from their perceptions about the benefits and costs of change. Sometimes these benefits and costs are personal and sometimes they are professional views about what is best for the country. Perceptions about the benefits and costs of a proposal can change over time.

3.2 Expose self-serving arguments

Management of stakeholder interests may involve changing the perceived self-interest of groups already active; or changing the views of the problem or the solution; the risks or benefits of change; or the costs of non-reform. It involves discrediting self-serving arguments against a proposal.

3.3 Provide better information

As information on the benefits of a proposed change become more available, the media and the public can became more supportive, thus creating a degree of momentum. Information about what other countries are doing can be particularly useful in illustrating this case.


Business New Zealand (BNZ) has placed a strong focus on productivity improvement. The main rationale for this approach is contained in BNZ's extensive surveys and data collection. But its promotion of this policy was greatly facilitated by rankings information that was provided by the OECD. BNZ used this information to bolster its position with the government. They subsequently outlined a clear and focused programme of activity that will underpin productivity and productivity growth. The BNZ 50 point action plan to improve national productivity details specific actions to be implemented as part of the productivity response. The plan recommends that a Ministerial Productivity Committee be established to oversee the development of the policies strategies and law changes contained in this plan.

3.4 Better organization

Where the EO is successful in mobilizing other business associations around the proposal, this can serve to increase the proposal's credibility.

3.5 Changes in the proposal

This means compromise: the EO redesigns or changes its proposal to accommodate other stakeholders who can then support it. This is a realistic approach, but, as noted above, a determinant of the success of the EO's proposal is the skill in knowing when and how to accommodate concerns, without sacrificing too many benefits of what the EO wants. This is mostly a cost-benefit trade off.

Can the EO make a convincing case for the benefits emanating from its proposal to uncommitted stakeholders? List these stakeholders and the direct and indirect benefits to each group
Can the EO identify arguments that will be used against the EO’s proposal that are self-serving? List weaknesses in these arguments and identify areas where self-serving interests can be exposed
Could more information on the proposal help sway uncommitted stakeholders? Should the release of information be timed? Should information be specifically targeted?
Has the EO coherently mobilized its business allies to make the case? Does support look unified across the business commuinty?
Does the proposal have scope to compromise if needed?  

(1) Adapted from Stakeholder management in business registration lesons from 10 countries, IFC, 2009.