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25 April 2017
DRUSSA Handbook Series Essay 4 Stakeholder Engagement: a recipe for successful Research Uptake Print
Defining the Field
Monday, 10 November 2014 17:49

Stakeholder Engagement can play a critical role in ensuring that research is taken up in practice. It provides a comprehensive and holistic framework for identifying and engaging with key members of participant groups and target audiences.

There are no silver bullets when it comes to managing research to optimize uptake by users, but understanding your stakeholders, and how to communicate research to them is vital.  This blog discusses the value of Stakeholder Engagement, and is one of three blogs which will be posted over the next two weeks. The second and third blogs in the series will look at case studies on how Stakeholder Engagement was used in two instances, one at the University of Mauritius and the second at an affiliated centre of Mbarara University, Uganda.

 

Participatory Research

Development Research has direct implications for practitioners, be they farmers, health workers or policy makers.  From a practical perspective developing a stakeholder engagement plan can help to ensure that the right people are included in the discussions so that the research addresses the right questions, the right people are involved, they understand the research process and they benefit from the research findings. Most importantly it allows you to develop a comprehensive research communication plan.

"Developing a stakeholder engagement plan can help to ensure that the right people are included in the discussions"

Stakeholder Engagement in Practice

Dr Sara Grobbelaar from CREST, one of the DRUSSA partners, has written a paper reviewing the literature on Stakeholder Engagement.  It is a critical review of the history and theory behind Stakeholder Engagement, as well as the processes for engaging with stakeholders.  The paper provides practical frameworks which assist in defining the context and preferred outcomes, matching the theoretical frameworks to the situation in which the research takes place, identifying key stakeholders and defining their characteristics (interest in the project, scale of influence, potential conflicts between the stakeholders and so on), which in turn allows you to plan their level of involvement as well as the participatory techniques which will best elicit their engagement. A research communication plan will be integrated with the research process, but be flexible enough to allow changes to the engagement process if conditions make this necessary.

 

The Seven Steps

Research communication stakeholder engagement planning will answer the following questions:

  1. Who do we want to reach? (Key groups and individuals.)
  2. What do we want to achieve? (Why and what do we want communicate?)
  3. What do we know about key audiences? How can we get to know and engagement with them better?
  4. What are our key messages? (Clear and consistent messages about processes, benefits, impacts, opportunities, and more.)
  5. How will we cultivate relationships with them? (Tools, tactics, activities.)
  6. Roles, resources and timeframes: Who will do what, and when? What do we need to implement this plan in terms of skills, expertise and budget?
  7. Implementation and evaluation.

"A research communication plan will be integrated with the research plan, but be flexible enough to allow changes to the engagement process if conditions make this necessary"

Its all about the messages

The identification of key stakeholder groups, as well as their communication needs and preferences through a Stakeholder Engagement process will provide information to develop strategic messages for each stakeholder group, understand the best ways to engage with these audiences, including making the most of existing and new communication platforms and personal and institutional relationships.

Read the full paper here

 

This paper is one of a number produced by CREST. The others in the series are:

 

DRUSSA Handbook Series Essay 1 Shifts in science policy and the evolution of the university and its role

DRUSSA Handbook Series Essay 2 Traditions of Knowledge Utilisation and the most influential models

DRUSSA Handbook Series Essay 3 Knowledge to Policy (discussed in a series of four blogs)

DRUSSA Handbook Series Essay 4 Stakeholder Engagement

DRUSSA Handbook Series Essay 5 Science Communication


Alison Bullen is the content manager for the DRUSSA website

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