The Project Stakeholder Analysis Process



Aurangzeb Z. Khan

Department of Management Sciences
COMSATS Institute of Information Technology
Islamabad, Pakistan


Miroslaw J. Skibniewski and John H. Cable

Project Management Center for Excellence
James A. Clark School of Engineering
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland, USA




A general consensus prevails in the project management community that stakeholders are a prime critical success factor on all pro­­jects, especially on large and in technical and managerial perspective complex ones such as those often encountered in construction and civil infrastructure development. Conse­quently, in order to boost project performance, reduce risk to projects, and to realize to the maximum attainable ex­tent the benefits brought about by the pro­jects after their completion, it is imperative to manage and engage the stake­holders profession­ally and effectively over the project life-cycle. A thorough stakeholder analysis constitutes the foundation of effective stake­hol­der manage­ment and engagement.

The importance of stakeholder analysis is now widely acknowledged and used in practice. Though its application across the project category spectrum, including on con­struc­tion and civil infrastructure development projects is widespread, there still appears to exist a need to further educate project owners, planners and other key decision-makers about unexplored possibilities offered by the stakeholder analysis process and how its practical usefulness can be enhanced. What seems to be lacking at present is a rigorous analy­tical framework which incorporates a set of integrated and sophisticated tools capable of de­li­vering detailed and multi-dimensional insights about project stakeholders with a consistently high level of accuracy over time.

Based on their research on the subject of project stakeholder manage­ment and enga­ge­ment, their decades of experience with projects, and a careful study of existing stakeholder analysis approaches and tools contained in avail­able docu­mentation taken from numerous large and complex projects undertaken in several project categories and across the globe, the authors present in this paper a compre­hen­sive project stakeholder analysis process framework which they believe can supplement and add value to existing approaches used by projects to analyze their stake­hol­ders. Themes discussed include the process bene­fits, challenges and constraints, and the importance of having an enabling environment and acquisition of quality informa­tion on project stake­hol­ders for the analysis to deliver optimal results. Highlighted in this paper are five powerful stakeholder analysis tools which, if applied in a coordinated manner, may deliver all the salient insights and knowledge needed by projects to effectively manage and engage their stakeholders over their life-cycles. These tools are the Stakeholder SWOT-Analysis, the Stake­holder Attribute Analysis, the Stakeholder Issues & Complications Ana­ly­sis, Stake­holder Scoring Models, and the Stakeholder Scenarios & Project Impact Analysis.

Through their research the authors hope to motivate projects to improve the quality of their stakeholder analysis. A robust stakeholder analysis will serve the inte­rests of the projects significantly in the sense that it can reduce the risk of conflicts occurring between projects and their stakeholders and also provide projects with guidance how to respond appropriately in the event that con­flicts with stakeholders do occur over the project life-cycle. The interests of the stakeholders will also be served accordingly.

Introductory Comments

Stakeholder analysis has been an integral part of the project planning process for decades. Many documented examples taken from actual projects undertaken in fields as diverse as water resource management, forestry, social development, mining, urban regeneration and con­struc­tion and civil infrastructure, some dating back to the early 1990s, were discovered by the authors while researching for this paper. Interestingly, most of the stakeholder analyses reviewed are actually quite recent speci­mens, having appeared after the advent of the new millen­nium with increasing frequency of appearance as well as complexity of con­tent over time. Presumably, this reflects an increa­sing awareness of the importance of stake­­hol­ders on pro­jects and broad concurrence among project key decision-makers of the need for understand­ing them and managing and engaging them effectively. In fact, stakeholder analysis is almost a universal feature on all projects today.

It is now generally accepted that project stakeholders basically fall into two major categories: The ‘primary stake­hol­ders’ which encompasses all those entities having contractual obliga­tions or some legal responsibility towards the project, and the ‘secondary stakeholders’ which include all those entities having neither contractual obligations nor legal responsibility to the project but which are affected by it directly or indirectly in some way or the other, and posi­tively or negatively, or both, over time. Examples of key primary stakeholders typically en­coun­tered on large and complex projects, as in construction and civil infrastructure de­ve­lop­ment, are the pro­ject owner or client, steering committee, financers, designers, consul­tants, contractors and sub-contrac­tors, vendors, project manager and project team, and govern­ment agencies involved in the pro­ject. More significant secondary stakeholders on such projects would usually include affect­ed local communities, civic and professional organizations, advocacy groups and environ­men­talists, media and academia, and some government agencies. All stakeholders have their respective interests in and views of the project and these can vary widely and change over time.

If primary and secondary stakeholders come to view the project as constituting a threat to their interests than it is logical to assume they will resist it using the means available to them. Resis­tance which is active, strong and sustained can seriously affect the project causing it to expe­rience cost and schedule overruns, image loss, demotivation of its employees, reduced benefit realization after completion, non-attainment of some of its objectives, or in the ex­treme case even endanger the project’s existence through the possibility of enforced pre­mature termination. Secondary stakeholders who, unlike the primary stakeholders, lie outside the project’s formal control and may not be known well to the project, at least initially, but neverthe­less may pose an especially high risk to it by excercizing against the project a spectrum of options which are available at their disposal. Many high-profile projects have been seriously affected by hostile stakeholder action and several examples were discussed by the authors in a previous paper on the subject.


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 6th Annual University of Maryland PM Symposium in May 2019. It is republished here with the permission of the authors and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Author last name, first initial. (2019). The Project Stakeholder Analysis Process; presented at the 6th Annual University of Maryland Project Management Symposium, College Park, Maryland, USA in May 2019; PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue VIII, September. Available online at  https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/pmwj85-Sep2019-Khan-Skibniewski-Cable-project-stakeholder-analysis-process.pdf



About the Authors

Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

COMSATS Institute of Information Technology
Islamabad, Pakistan




Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Management Sciences at the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan. He introduced Pakistan’s first master degree program in project management at his university in the fall semester 2008. His prime areas of research are project stakeholder management, and project monitoring and evaluation, which he teaches to project management graduate-level students.  He can be contacted at aurangzeb_khan@comsats.edu.pk


Dr. Miroslaw J. Skibniewski

University of Maryland
College Park, MD, USA



Dr. Miroslaw Skibniewski is a Professor in the Center of Excellence in Project Management at the University of Maryland.  He is also Editor-in-Chief of Automation in Construction, an international research journal published by Elsevier, and North American Editor of the Journal of Civil Engineering and Management published by Taylor & Francis.  An author/coauthor of over 200 research publications, he lectures on information/automation technologies in construction, construction equipment management, and legal aspects of engineering.  Miroslaw can be contacted at mirek@umd.edu


John Cable

Director, Project Management Center for Excellence
University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA



 John Cable is Director of the Project Management Center for Excellence in the A.J. Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, where he is also a professor and teacher of several graduate courses in project management.  His program at the University of Maryland offers masters and PhD level programs focused on project management. With more than 1,300 seats filled annually with students from many countries, including more than 40 PhD students, the program is the largest graduate program in project management at a major university in the United States.

John Cable served in the newly formed U.S. Department of Energy in 1980, where he was involved with developing energy standards for buildings, methods for measuring energy consumption, and managing primary research in energy conservation.  As an architect and builder, Mr. Cable founded and led John Cable Associates in 1984, a design build firm. In 1999 he was recruited by the University of Maryland’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering to create and manage a graduate program in project management.  In his role as founder and director of the Project Management Center for Excellence at Maryland, the program has grown to offer an undergraduate minor, master’s degrees, and a doctoral program. Information about the Project Management Center for Project Management at the University of Maryland can be found at www.pm.umd.edu.

In 2002, PMI formed the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Educational Programs (GAC).  Mr. Cable was appointed to that inaugural board where he served as vice chair.  In 2006, he was elected as chairman, a role he held through 2012.  As Chair of the PMI GAC, John led the accreditation of 86 project management educational programs at 40 institutions in 15 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and the Asia Pacific Region. John was awarded PMI’s 2012 Distinguished Contribution Award for his leadership at the GAC.  He can be contacted at jcable@umd.edu.