Stakeholder surveys for government agencies
We have conducted Stakeholder surveys for ASIC, Treasury and the Productivity Commission. These surveys have particular challenges that we have learnt how to overcome.
Stakeholder research for government is unique and has some demanding requirements
The challenges peculiar to stakeholder surveys are that:
Different stakeholders relate and interact differently with the organisation.
Some stakeholders may be more important to the organisation than others.
Some may want different outcomes. It is not unusual for one stakeholder type - businesses say - to less regulation, compared with another stakeholder type - such as citizens - who hope for greater protection
Some stakeholder segments are much easier to research than others.
Stakeholder surveys for government agencies - the must do's
We have found it is essential to:
Conduct upfront qualitative with each key stakeholder group. Always.
Pilot the survey with members of each key stakeholder group. Always.
Use appropriate methods for different stakeholders. Although this involves more effort, it pays off every time.
Work hard to achieve the response rate we want for all segments. If we want the CEOs of the ASX100 in our sample, we obviously need to treat them according to their status, even though it may be a more intensive process.
Select sample sizes sufficient for analysis 'by stakeholder segment', when practical.
Have broad internal stakeholder consultation as part of the research design process.
Stakeholder surveys for government agencies - be careful
Imagine a survey that was designed to have equal sample sizes for each stakeholder group. Imagine now that the results are in, and one numerically large stakeholder group (say, users) rates their engagement with the organisation more positively than does a smaller stakeholder group such as businesses. Should we weight the data to reflect their proportion in the population, knowing that the effect of weighting will be to change the overall result? Weighting is often very tricky, because there is not necessarily any scientific basis for working out what the relative weights should be, but it can look appealing. Arguably, this kind of decision should be made at the outset of the survey, not when the results are in.
Here is a different example. Let's say we unexpectedly achieved:
a great response to our employee survey, because the lists were up to date, but
a poor response to the customer survey because their contact details turned out to be out of date.
This kind of response pattern is very common in stakeholder surveys, because we can get better lists for some stakeholder types than others, and we can achieve higher response rates for some than others.
Again, should we just accept the sample sizes we achieved and just aggregate the results, or should we weight them to reflect their 'real' proportion (if we know what that is)? Does it even make sense to add stakeholder groups together?
Stakeholder surveys for government agencies - designing the right survey
The answer to these questions is the answer that is right for this survey for this client. In our view, stakeholder surveys should be in the hands of research agencies (like us) who are prepared to take all of these issues into account and who are happy to work collaboratively with clients. They will make sure that your stakeholder assessment is meaningful, useful and credible.
Tags: Stakeholder Surveys