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Supporting Actor Analysis using the I3S: Stakeholder analysis support (SAS) tool. What is actor analysis?. … a way to understand who is affected by and who has the power to influence water policy decisions and implementation, i.e. the stakeholders. Why perform stakeholder analysis?.

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what is actor analysis
What is actor analysis?

… a way to understand who is affectedby and who has the power to influence water policy decisions and implementation, i.e. the stakeholders

why perform stakeholder analysis
Why perform stakeholder analysis?

Three theoretical approaches:

  • To understand who’s in and why (descriptive approach)
  • Influence and manage stakeholder relationships (instrumental approach)
  • Legitimise stakeholder involvement and empowerment in decision-making processes, and to ensure representation of under-represented or marginalised groups (normative approach)
why perform stakeholder analysis1
Why perform stakeholder analysis?

…to facilitate the processes of social, economic or environmental change and adaptation

so.. make sure all relevant stakeholders are involved or your project might fail

steps in actor analysis


Identify focus (e.g. issue, organisation or intervention)

Identify system boundaries

Application of stakeholder methods

Identify stakeholders and their stake

Differentiate between and categorise stakeholders

Investigate relationships between stakeholders


Recommend future activities and stakeholder engagement

Steps in actor analysis

High level cognitive mapping using C-map tools

Stakeholder Analysis Support (SAS) tool

Detailed mapping of cause-effect relationships between stakeholders and the subsequent impact on environmental indicators using knowledge maps, influence diagrams, and quantification using Bayesian belief networks

context for testing
Context for testing

Follow the link to actor analysis scenario in the I3s workshop website

interest functions
Interest functions
  • Regulation: e.g. flood water storage, drainage.
  • Habitat: e.g. for wildlife, important for conservation organisations
  • Information: e.g., providing education to citizens (amenity), research value to NGOs (landscape)
  • Production: e.g. drinking water abstraction, industrial production, agricultural production
  • Carrier: e.g. transport, industrial sites, settlements


  • high interest but low influence
  • they are supportive, but lack the capacity for impact,
  • they may become influential by forming alliances with other stakeholders
  • often the marginal stakeholders that development projects seek to empower

Key players are stakeholders who should to be actively groomed, because they have high interest in and influence over a particular phenomenon.



Key players

Context setters are highly influential, but have little interest. Because of this, they may be a significant risk, and should be monitored and managed.


The Crowd are stakeholders who have little interest in or influence over desired outcomes and there is little need to consider them in much detail or to engage with them.


Context setters





How can results from the SAS tool be used to facilitate engagement, policy implementation and the process of change?
  • Provides a structured approach to investigating existing and potential collaborative relationships between stakeholders, and the barriers to and drivers of these relationships
  • Identify which actors are currently considered key to the collaborative effort and why. Some are important financial supporters, other possess essential knowledge, whilst others still may have already recognised appropriate linkages and shared interests upon which further collaboration may be built.
  • Representation of under-represented or marginalised groups - Finally, it allows us to consider which stakeholders are bypassed and how including them may benefit other stakeholders, along with how such input may affect existing management objectives.