Relevance & Research Question
Large infrastructure projects are bound to address challenges in public transportation and the energy transition. Additionally, they require support from local and influential stakeholders and their associates. To construct, for example, new subways, train- or electricity lines, decision-makers must be convinced that the construction provides a lasting benefit and takes their interests into account. The organizers of these projects need to know who those stakeholders are, who can mobilize others and how they can be best addressed in communication.
Data acquisition for Social Network Analysis is challenging and often bound to one population and data source, however, stakeholders are embedded in multiple social contexts. We introduce an online research method and network analysis approach for identifying stakeholders by capturing personal and organizational networks.
Methods & Data
Each approach starts with a small number of diverse seed stakeholders, representing different hierarchical and topical areas of the network. The network is expanded iteratively. For each stakeholder we use multiple publicly available online resources, e.g., databases, reports of companies and institutions, websites and publications, to capture professional affiliations and collaborators and add them to the network. Data entry, analyses and visualizations are performed with R and two R Shiny apps.
We present a typical regional stakeholder network that started with 140 seed stakeholders and expanded to 6,378 stakeholders with a total of 139,545 relationships, defined by memberships in 606 different organizations.
On a visual and statistical level, the resulting network reveals social groups, network segments, critical influencers and network brokers. We also show a technique to reduce visual clutter by selectively merging nodes in the dual layer network of people and organizations.
Our approach transforms a vague target group description of influential stakeholders into a precise dataset suitable for operational and planning purposes. Our clients use analyses like this to e.g., decide on preparatory talks or inform and communicate before and during project launches. By understanding key stakeholders and their networks, they can increase a project’s efficacy, acceptance and support.