The Handbook is designed to provide advice to researchers on how to plan or manage the way that they engage with stakeholders. Exactly which stakeholders are engaged, how many there are, and the most successful methods of engagement, will depend on the type of research.
The Handbook covers topics such as: identifying the benefits of engagement; identifying appropriate stakeholders;
when and how to work with stakeholders to inform the scope of research and share knowledge; and choosing the best techniques for engagement. It provides guidance on planning, carrying out, and following-up on stakeholder engagement.
The Handbook should not be viewed as prescriptive; it provides suggestions to help users ensure that they:
- account for all factors necessary for conducting effective engagement,
- consider what tools are available for engaging stakeholders, and
- communicate decisions and outcomes (within the project team, with funders, and with stakeholders).
The Handbook demonstrates that there is a wide range of stakeholder engagement methods and tools available, each with their own advantages and limitations. Additionally, it describes how different stakeholders are likely to make differing contributions and require different levels of communication at each key stage of a project. Not all takeholders will need to be engaged all of the time, or in the same way so the degree of engagement is likely to vary throughout the project.
The Handbook comprises seven main sections:
- Defining the outcomes desired from the engagement (why)
- Identifying the stakeholders to be involved (who), including assessing, analysing, prioritising and understanding their motivations
- Identifying the best times to engage with stakeholders (when)
- Choosing the best methods for engagement (how), including information on the most frequently used approaches
- Planning the detail of the engagement
- Dealing with conflict in stakeholder engagement
- Reviewing and assessing the process to demonstrate achievements and to identify lessons learned for informing future engagement exercises.
Whilst each of these sections can be used separately, they can also be used in sequence to ensure a comprehensive and well-designed engagement process is developed. Case studies and templates, along with references for further reading, are provided.