Comparative Analysis of Stakeholder Engagement in Policy Development

by Sharon Dawes, Natalie Helbig, Center for Technology in Government, University at Albany; Jamal Shahin, Free University Brussels, Belgium; Catherine Mkude, University of Koblenz-Landau; Gerard Cotterell, Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences, New Zealand; Bram Klievink, Technical University Delft, the Netherlands; Zamira Dzhusupova, UNU International Institute Software Technology, Macao. Abstract: Policy choices reflect the interplay of social, economic, cultural, and political considerations. Policy making processes can take many forms that vary in accessibility to outsiders and that give different advantages to the input of experts and other interests. A wide variety of tools and techniques are available for policymaking. These include traditional forms of review and public comment as well as newer approaches that use electronic communication and advanced analytical, modelling, and simulation techniques. Policy effectiveness can be judged from multiple perspectives, such as the extent to which policy goals are achieved, the cost and efficiency of the implementation process, the trade-offs made between costs and benefits, or the acceptance of the policy and the policy-making process by those it affects. All of these demand consideration of stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement has come to be seen as an important factor in the policy process. Stakeholders can be involved at any point in the policy cycle from framing issues to evaluating results. This comparative analysis work focuses mainly on stakeholder engagement during problem definition and policy formulation. We begin with a review of the basic elements of stakeholder theory and then follow with discussions of the main purposes served by stakeholder engagement and ways to identify relevant stakeholders for a given purpose. We then discuss the main methods of stakeholder engagement along with their strengths and weaknesses. We offer brief examples of stakeholder engagement and conclude with implications for future research and practice.