In her toolkit of science communication, Ingie Hovland provides useful tools for designing a networking strategy for research organisations.

Two of them, combined together, may be particularly effective: stakeholders analysis and network analysis.

The stakeholder analysis is aimed at identifying all the stakeholders or interest groups associated with objectives the organisation wishes to pursue or problems and issues it wishes to cope with. As highlighted by Hovland, “stakeholders can be organisations, groups, departments, structures, networks or individuals”. An example of possible types of stakeholders is given in the following table.

Private sector stakeholders Public sector stakeholders Civil society stakeholders
  • Other research organisations
  • National and international scientific societies
  • Private research funders
  • Corporations and businesses
  • Business associations
  • Professional bodies
  • Individual business leader
  • Financial institutions
  • Public research funders
  • Research Councils
  • Ministers and advisors
  • Civil servants and departments
  • Elected representatives
  • Political parties
  • Local government / councils
  • Quangos and commissions
  • International organisations
  • Media
  • Local groups, communities and associations
  • Churches / religions
  • Schools
  • Social movements and advocacy groups
  • Trade unions
  • National NGOs
  • International NGOs

The stakeholders analysis allows to “organise the stakeholders in different matrices according to their interest and power” whereas ‘interest’ measures to what degree they are likely to be affected by the research project or policy change and what degree of interest or concern they have in or about it and ‘Power’ measures the influence they have over the project or policy, and to what degree they can help achieve, or block, the desired change.

The matrix suggested by Hovland includes four cells, as follows.

The Hovland’s matrix for stakeholders analysis

stakeholder analysis

The second tool is the network analysis, aimed at identifying the links among different stakeholders. Links “may be social contacts, exchange of information, political influence, money, joint membership in an organisation, joint participation in specific events or many other aspects of human relationships”. The output can be graphs like the following one.

Example of graphs for network analysis

network analysis

Hovland notices that sometimes “organisations are embedded in networks of larger social processes, which they influence, and which also influence them. Recognising this can help us bridge links between different levels of analyses, relating to different types of organisational entities”.

A network analysis could be helpful for understanding how much a department or a research group is already connected to external players and how to leverage on the existing links to develop a more effective and comprehensive networking strategy. A network analysis usually requires a consultation process (for example, internal to a single research group or department, among departments, involving the middle or top managers, etc.).