IPS Stakeholder engagement

Stakeholder engagement is key for an e-government initiative to be fully successful and effective.

Stakeholder engagement is key for an e-government initiative to be fully successful and
effective. During processes of IPS co-creation a better understanding of stakeholders paves
the way for more effective stakeholder communication, greater stakeholder engagement
and, ultimately, improved public services design and delivery. For this, the identification of
stakeholders is considered essential.

Stakeholders can be defined as “any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the
achievement of the organization’s objective” (Freeman, 1984/2010: 25). This implies that a
given actor could either directly have an impact on, or be responsible for, the activities of an
organisation, but equally could be willingly or unwillingly impacted by them, or both.
Following this logic, a stakeholder may be considered as being usually involved, to a greater
or lesser degree, in a particular activity and hence have responsibilities within it and take a
measure of interest in its success.

We can distinguish between internal and external stakeholders. The first include core
members of the project network that have direct strategic and authoritative roles in the
planning, design, delivery, and maintenance of a service. External stakeholders are those
that have a stake or strong personal interest in the project’s progress, will use a provided
service, and live with the consequences of the project outcomes (Wiewiora et. al., 2015).
Stakeholders can also be distinguished based on their roles, wherein each group of
stakeholders participates in the process of digital service provision in more than one
capacity (Rowley, 2011). Examples of such roles are service providers, consumers or users,
decision-makers, service developers, etc.

Stakeholders can be engaged at different levels, from informing, over consulting, to actual
co-creating. Each level has several different stakeholder engagement methods applicable to
it. Apart from the types of stakeholders and the level of stakeholder engagement, another
element to consider are the phases of the public service cycle that stakeholders will be part
of. These phases include co-design, co-delivery and co-assessment, but can be further
divided into smaller phases such as: co-planning, co-prioritisation, co-financing, co-
implementation/management, co-commissioning, etc. In fact, some of these phases can be
looked at as project roles and responsibilities as well.

In sum, an important part of IPS co-creation is selecting the right stakeholders, finding the
appropriate level and method of engagement for them, engaging them where required in
the phases of the public service cycle, and giving them appropriate roles and
responsibilities. Given the many roles, methods, types and phases to take into account, making the appropriate choices in terms of stakeholder engagement can seem highly

Building a Toolkit for IPS Stakeholder Engagement

Based on the IPS holistic framework, the recommendations of previous inGOV deliverables,
academic research on co-creation, analysis of best practice cases and the experience of the
four inGOV pilots, the inGOV project aims to construct a toolkit that can help meta-
governors in IPS co-creation. This toolkit will consist of various tables, diagrams and visuals
to help make informed decisions about stakeholder identification and selection, roles and
responsibilities and methods of engagement.

This toolkit will include various elements such as a stakeholder selection flowchart and
roadmap, guidelines for approaching stakeholders, and outlines of stakeholder roles and
responsibilities, and of stakeholder engagement levels and methods. Here we provide a
sneak preview of some of these elements.

Guidelines for approaching and engaging stakeholders are created, with the aim to avoid
common pitfalls and increase the chances of successfully tying co-creators to the network.

1. Get to know the field
When looking for external stakeholders such as businesses, NGOs, civil society
organizations or other governmental organizations, get to know the field. It is
wise to evaluate different options and to examine different alternatives to see
which stakeholder would be the best fit for the project.

2. Make your pitch memorable
When meeting with a potential stakeholder, ensure that you can pitch the
project in a clear and exciting way and that you can quickly situate where they
would fit into the project as co-creators.

3. Go in prepared
Show the stakeholder that you have done your research. Be aware of the way of
working, the values and the sensitivities of the stakeholder. Ensure that you can
convey why their engagement in the co-creation can be a win-win situation.
Make sure it is clear why they were selected as potential co-creators over other

4. Engage
After a positive first meeting, consolidate the collaboration. Arrange for a follow-
up meeting in the immediate future and keep in touch throughout the
preparation of the project. “Keeping the network warm” is vital to keep
stakeholders from dropping out prematurely.

5. Embed
Once a stakeholder is selected, involve them in the next steps. Inform them
about how the preparation of the project is going, but moreover, consult them
for input about project decisions and ensure that they feel heard and valued. This
type of involvement helps motivate stakeholders and embeds them in the

An agile roadmap further serves as a tool to refine the stakeholder selection. By posing
critical questions related to the context and the process, meta-governors can verify whether
it can be instrumental to invite additional stakeholders to the network.


  • Freeman, R. E. (1984, 2010). Strategic management: A stakeholder approach: Cambridge university press.
  • Rowley, J. (2011). e-Government stakeholders—Who are they and what do they want?, International journal of information management, 31(1), 53-62.
  • Wiewiora, A., Keast, R., & Brown, K. (2015). Opportunities and Challenges in Engaging, Citizens in the Co-Production of Infrastructure-Based Public Services in Australia, Public Management Review, 18(4), 483-507.

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