Introduction to Stakeholders
Stakeholders are identifiable groups who have a shared interest or value that causes them to systematically favor or oppose certain types of policies. The purpose of this page is to establish and classify a master list of Stakeholders within the field of public policy so that they can be associated as likely supporters or likely opponents of specific public policies on the Atlas.
Legally, policies must often be passed into law and funded by elected legislatures, signed into law by an elected executive and implemented by executive branch agencies. For a policy to transition from a proposal to reality, its champions must often build a coalition of potential supporters and overcome a base of potential opponents, who may attempt to influence the relevant elected officials and policymaking authorities’ decisions on whether and how to adopt the policy.
Some of the common mechanisms Stakeholders may employ to influence policymakers and public opinion include:
- Campaign contributions
- Personal lobbying
- Public relations campaigns
- Supporting research studies
- Voter mobilization
Factors impacting the potential of a given Stakeholder to influence policy may include:
- Membership: How large is the group?
- Organization: How organized is the group -- is it a formal organization that meets, collects dues, and takes action?
- Resources: What level of access to funding, in-kind labor, or in-kind services does the group possess?
- Activity: How closely does the group follow the policymaking process, and how much do they engage in advocacy work?
- Intensity: How important to the group is the issue that binds them together?
- Influence: How much do other groups and elected officials whose support is required value the group's preferences?
As an example, labor unions are often large, well-organized, well-funded, active advocates for policies in line with their group’s intensely-held preferences. In contrast, other groups may be fragmented, unfunded, and lack awareness of policy changes or how they might influence the political process.
Benefits of Tagging Stakeholders
By identifying which stakeholders are likely to favor and oppose a given policy, the Atlas hopes to improve the probability of a given policy’s implementation by allowing policymakers to better:
- Select a more politically viable policy to meet their goals when several acceptable alternative policies exist;
- Design policies so as to better mitigate their opposition or increase their support and viability; and
- Identify the likely members of a potential coalition to advance or defeat a policy.
For one example, perhaps any policies that negatively impact teacher labor unions are a non-starter for a local mayor, and a staffer uses the Atlas to identify a policy that meets the mayor’s goal of reducing truancy without risking the opposition of a key contributor and voter mobilization partner. Alternatively, perhaps the mayor favors longer school days, and the Atlas allows them to realize and mitigate the potential impacts of such a policy by simultaneously increasing compensation for teachers and custodians, who might otherwise be forced to work longer hours without additional pay and therefore block the policy. In other cases, perhaps the Atlas will simply help a policymaker realize that a policy change they support has more supporters than they realized, but that its possible supporters are currently fragmented and must be united into a collation.
Using Stakeholder Tags
Each policy page should be tagged with its likely Supporters or Opponents based on the assumed benign or malign impacts of the policy on their group and their resulting likely preferences (and potential influence) as to whether a policy is adopted and how it is implemented.
The reason for developing this master list is to ensure that all stakeholders are tagged consistently and non-redundantly--for example, that there are not scattered tags associating some policies with "Teachers," others with "Teacher Unions," and still others with "Labor Unions - Teachers." By establishing this master list of specific stakeholder groups with consistent naming conventions, it will ensure the usability of the stakeholder tags as a means of searching for policies that tend to be supported or opposed by particular stakeholder groups, which can then be comprehensively retrieved with one search query. To facilitate this functionality, within the Atlas, stakeholders are tracked as generic types of groups (e.g., Labor Unions - Healthcare Workers) rather than by their specific unions (e.g., SEIU 1199).
As one example of how the stakeholder tags can work, if a user was searching for education policies that increased attendance and had the support of teacher unions, a user could run a search for all policies with the property "Is supported by::" and the value of Labor Unions - Teachers as well as "Has goal of::" and the value of “Increase student attendance rates” in Special:Ask. Additionally, specific Stakeholder pages such as Labor Unions - Teachers automatically populate all policies with which they are associated by use of the [[Is supported by::]] and [[Is opposed by::]] tags. Of note, although use of the Special:Ask query is highly technical, as the Atlas evolves, this functionality is expected to become increasingly user-friendly (e.g., a search with different filters and checkboxes).
Format when tagging Supporters:
[[Is supported by::Labor Unions - Teachers]]
Format when tagging Opponents:
[[Is opposed by::Advocates - Charter Schools]]
Types of Stakeholders
Within the Atlas, Stakeholder groups are classified and tracked based on the type of group they represent, using the following prefixes:
- Advocates: Issue or cause-oriented groups that consistently advocate for a position or set of principles that is unlikely to personally benefit them financially.
- Associations: Umbrella groups formed to represent collections of individual institutions (e.g., companies within the same industry) that share common goals, most often related to improving their economic and regulatory context.
- Constituent Groups: Significant stakeholders due to their large size or propensity for being impacted by policies. Often large bodies with significant in-group variation and without a formal method of representative organization.
- Elected Officials: Individuals or entities who are publicly elected into a governance role and may be likely to oppose a policy regardless of their ideology based on the nature of the policy’s impact on their political role.
- Government Agencies: Entities formally imbued with governmental missions and powers and charged with implementing regulations, policies and programs. Interests on most issues will vary with elected executives, but may share consistent positions with respect to role of agency on an issue.
- Labor Unions: Organized labor groups that represent specific classes of employees.
- Providers: For-profit or non-profit entities offer goods or services to government entities, either for-fee or on an in-kind basis.
These definitions were selected based on the following principles:
- Stakeholder groups should be defined broadly enough to include a material group of influencers but narrowly enough so as to ensure that there is a high degree of overlap in their preferences. For example, employees who belong to a teacher union are broadly defined in that they are a group of material size and influence. However, they are also sufficiently narrowly defined so as to ensure significant overlap in interests; e.g., teacher pay, benefits, working conditions and job security.
- Where relevant, Stakeholders should be organized based on how they organize politically (i.e., "Labor Unions - Teachers" and not "Teachers")
- Each Stakeholder should be categorized with a prefix of the type of stakeholder (e.g., "Labor Unions - ")
- Stakeholders names should be broadly applicable, generic types (e.g., "Labor Unions - Teachers") and not specific stakeholder organizations (e.g., "National Education Association").
- Each Stakeholder on this page should have its own page created that includes a description of the stakeholder as well as a Semantic MediaWiki Query.
Lists of Stakeholders to Tag on the Atlas
The following Stakeholder lists can be used to browse those commonly associated with specific policy areas:
- List of Education Stakeholders
- List of Public Finance Stakeholders
- List of Transportation Stakeholders
A full list of Stakeholders can be viewed by clicking "Expand" for the below query: