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Bases of Power - Stakeholder Analysis technique

by | reviewed 23/11/2020
This Stakeholder Analysis technique builds on the interest vs influence grids and influence lines allowing an in-depth analysis of the stakeholders who are key players. The method is based on Eden and Ackermann’s ‘star diagrams’ (1998, pp.126-8) and it helps identify a stakeholder's bases of power and their directions of interest.

Stakeholder Bases of Power

Bases of power can be: support mechanisms or available sanctions. For example:

Support mechanisms
  • Influence/authority of office
  • Access to greater authority
  • Networks professional or social
Available sanctions
  • Escalation to a higher power
  • Condition of future work
  • Votes of no confidence
  • Control of purse strings/budget cutting

Stakeholder Directions of Interest

Key players will view your project or organization through their own personal ‘lens’ or filter. Neuro Linguistic Programming describes how people use filters to translate experience in to perception.
what we believe to be 'real' or 'true' is based upon the information we retain after our perceptions of the outside world have passed through a number of filters. Microdot.Net
Filters will be personal and professional. Certain professions train people to think in certain ways. Compliance Officers will perceive new regulation differently from Sales Reps.

Testing how actions taken by your organization will be viewed by key stakeholders will enable you take advantage of positive perceptions and reduce negative perceptions.

Stakeholders will also consider the impact of your project or organization on their own aspirations. The conclusions they come to will define their attitudes towards a project and in turn drive their actions – either wielding their available sanctions or accessing their support mechanisms.

stakeholder power
The Star Diagram, Ackermann F and Eden C.

How to analyze Stakeholder Power

Completing a Bases of Power diagram simply requires flip chart paper or a whiteboard. As a project team brainstorm the stakeholder’s interests and goals, write them on the bottom half of the sheet. Then list all of their possible bases of power and list them on the top half of the sheet. Remember to consider support mechanisms as well as the negative power bases aka available sanctions. Draw arrows from the stakeholder to the interests and bases of power. Arrows can also link interests and bases of power were appropriate.

Benefits of using Bases of Power for Stakeholder Analysis

As Bryson explains there are two benefits to using the Bases of Power or Star Diagram for Stakeholder Analysis. Firstly it will enable teams to identify common areas of power and interest across stakeholders. Secondly it facilitates a targeted engagement strategy which takes account of the interests of key players and ideally finds ways to use their power bases to support the project or initiative (Bryson, 2004, pp.34).

Stakeholder Power resources

Stakeholder analysis templates in Word, Visio and Excel.

Stakeholder Management ebook

Basic Stakeholder Analysis Method

Happy Stakeholders

Stakeholder Salience

Stakeholder Power - Bibliography

Eden, C. and Ackermann, F. (1998). Making Strategy: The Journey of Strategic Management, London: Sage Publications.

Ackermann F and Eden C. (2001). Stakeholders Matter: Techniques for their identification and management, Strathclyde Business School, Research Paper No. 2001/20

Bryson, J. (2004). What to do When Stakeholders Matter: Stakeholder Identification and Analysis Techniques, Public Management Review, Vol 6 Issue 1: 34 – 35.

Microdot.net, Microdot Neuro Linguistic Programming website. https://microdot.net/nlp/learning-strategy/perception-is-projection.shtml [Accessed 22 July 2013]