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Analysing stakeholder power dynamics in multi-stakeholder processes : insights of practice from Africa and Asia

Brouwer, J.H.; Hiemstra, W.; Vugt, S.M. van; Walters, H.

Summary

This paper examines different practical methods for stakeholders to analyse power dynamics in multi-stakeholders processes (MSPs), taking into account the ambiguous and uncertain nature of complex adaptive systems. It reflects on an action learning programme which focused on 12 cases in Africa and Asia put forward by 6 Dutch development non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The authors facilitated this action learning programme in 2011-12, and supported a team of 12 local researchers who worked with stakeholders to better understand the dynamics of power in MSPs, and learn practical ways of dealing with power imbalances when dealing with, participating in or embarking on MSPs. The cases range from a Nigerian NGO coalition dealing with oil spills in Niger Delta, to gold mining negotiations in Ghana, to a seaweed value chain in Philippines, to land planning for palm oil in Indonesia. The ambition of this programme was to translate academic insights into easy-to-use packages, suitable for researchers and facilitators with limited academic experience. In trying to make this work, lessons were learned on how to ensure quality action learning across different cultural and sectoral backgrounds. Also, lessons on developing capacity for action learning on power in MSPs are shared. Finally, the authors report insights on the process of synthesizing data from all 12 cases into generic and shared conclusions.