Salience-Model-to-Analyze-Project-Stakeholders

Project management is about managing stakeholders’ expectations. If they are not happy, you cannot complete your project successfully.  

Small projects have fewer stakeholders, so you can manage them easily. However, larger projects are difficult because of the huge number of stakeholders. 

With limited resources and a stressful environment, it is difficult to treat every stakeholder equally. Every stakeholder has different requirements and expectations. So, identify and classify your project stakeholders, find these requirements and expectations, so you can manage them. 

Classifying stakeholders is an important process. Here you separate stakeholders as per their power, interest, urgency, etc. After classification, you will develop your stakeholder management strategy

The PMBOK Guide describes four models to classify stakeholders: 

  1. Power/interest grid
  2. Power/influence grid
  3. Influence/impact grid
  4. Salience model 

The first three models are similar and use two attributes. The fourth model uses three attributes. The PMBOK Guide did not explain this model and therefore many other PMP exam reference books ignore the concept. 

However, in this blog post, we will study the salience model to classify project stakeholders.

Salience Model

Salience means “the quality of being particularly noticeable, important or prominent.” So stakeholder salience means the quality of a stakeholder or their importance. 

Stakeholder salience can be defined as the “degree to which managers give priority to competing stakeholders’ claims in their decision-making process.” 

Source: CNM Wiki 

The stakeholder salience model was proposed by Ronald K. Mitchell, Bradley R. Agle and Donna J. Wood in 1997. 

Here, a stakeholder has three attributes: 

  1. Power
  2. Legitimacy
  3. Urgency

Power

Power is the authority or influence of the stakeholder on your project or its objectives. 

Focus on stakeholders with high power. These stakeholders are fewer in number.

Legitimacy

Legitimacy is how genuinely involved a stakeholder is with your project. You should not spend your time on a stakeholder who doesn’t have a legitimate interest. 

Pay attention to stakeholders with legitimate claims.

Urgency

Urgency is the degree to which stakeholder requirements call for immediate attention.  

Urgency depends on two factors: time-sensitivity and criticality. You will find out whether any requirement is time-specific or if mere fulfillment is important. 

You will identify your project stakeholders and assign them attributes. Afterward, you prioritize stakeholders according to their attributes. Based on this ranking you will develop the stakeholder’s management strategy. 

This will save time and help you win stakeholders’ support. 

Stakeholder salience is not static; it is dynamic and can change during the project life cycle; update the stakeholder register to reflect the changes.

Stakeholders in the Salience Model

A stakeholder salience model diagram is a Venn diagram comprising circles representing three attributes: power, legitimacy, and urgency. The intersection of circles shows stakeholders with multiple attributes. 

salience model for stakeholder classification

Based on these attributes, you can classify stakeholders into seven groups. 

  1. Dormant
  2. Discretionary
  3. Dominant
  4. Dangerous
  5. Core
  6. Dependent
  7. Demanding 

To develop your strategy, you divide these groups into three categories: 

  1. Latent stakeholders
  2. Expectant stakeholders
  3. Definitive stakeholders

Latent Stakeholders

These stakeholders have one attribute. Besides “power,” the other attributes are not significant; therefore, they receive little attention. 

Examples of latent stakeholders are: dormant, discretionary, and demanding.

Dormant Stakeholders

These stakeholders have high power, low legitimacy, and low urgency. Being high power, they can impact your project, so you will manage them carefully. 

A stakeholder from top management does not take part in meetings and has no interest in your project. 

However, you will still watch this stakeholder as they have power and you never know when they will change their mind.

Discretionary Stakeholders

These stakeholders have high legitimacy, low power, and low urgency. Although they have low power and low urgency, you will fulfill their requirements because of their legitimacy. 

NGOs or charitable organizations are examples of discretionary stakeholders. They do not have power or urgency, but they are legitimate stakeholders.

Demanding Stakeholders

These stakeholders have high urgency, low legitimacy, and low power. They are usually vocal and can influence other stakeholders if their requirements are not met. These stakeholders want attention. You will manage them carefully. 

For example, your project is in a public place, and residents from the neighborhood show interest in your project and ask for information.

Expectant Stakeholders

These stakeholders have two attributes: they are active and have expectations of the project. 

Some examples of expectant stakeholders are dominant, dangerous, and dependent.

Dominant Stakeholders

These stakeholders have high power and high legitimacy but low urgency. As these stakeholders have a legitimate interest in your project, you will manage them closely. Since the urgency is low, their rank is below the core group. 

For example, you are constructing a building where local authorities are stakeholders. Though they don’t have urgent issues with your project, you will manage them closely as they have both power and legitimacy.

Dangerous Stakeholders

These stakeholders have high power, and high urgency but low legitimacy, and this makes them vulnerable. They can be violent and can create trouble for your project. You will manage them cautiously. 

For example, suppose you are working in a remote area of a third world country, and in this case, a group of local terrorists can act as dangerous stakeholders. 

The security of your team members is paramount. You must identify these stakeholders and mitigate the threats they pose.

Dependent Stakeholders

These stakeholders have high urgency, high legitimacy but low power. Since these stakeholders have little power, you will not pay as much attention. 

For example, if you are doing construction work in a public place, local residents can be an example of dependent stakeholders. 

You will monitor these stakeholders closely because of their legitimacy and high urgency. They may form a group or associate with powerful stakeholders and can create trouble for you if their requirements are not met.

Definitive Stakeholders

These stakeholders have three attributes and require the most attention. You will manage these stakeholders closely. 

An example of definitive stakeholders is “core.”

Core Stakeholders

These stakeholders have high power, high urgency, and high legitimacy. You will manage them closely. 

This category is also referred to as “definitive.” 

The top management of your organization can fall into this category. 

Non-Stakeholders

These are not stakeholders of your project, so you will not manage these people.

Strategy to Manage Stakeholders 

You will manage your stakeholders as follows: 

  • You will give the highest priority to the core group because this group has all the attributes.
  • The next highest priority should be given to dominant, dangerous, and dependent stakeholders because they have a mix of any two attributes.
  • The lowest priority group consists of discretionary, demanding, and latent because they have one attribute. You will give little importance to these stakeholders but observe them because you never know when they will change their salience.

Changes in Stakeholders’ Attributes

The project environment is dynamic, so you will continuously get new stakeholders and lose old ones. 

Stakeholders’ attributes can change as the project progresses. A powerless stakeholder may become powerful, and an illegitimate stakeholder may become a legitimate one. 

You should update your stakeholder management strategy to reflect the changes in stakeholders’ attributes.

Benefits of the Salience Model

The benefits of the salience model are:

  • It provides you with better insight into your stakeholders.
  • It helps you to save resources, time, and effort.
  • It helps you complete projects with minimal obstruction.

Limitations of the Salience Model

The salience model has the following limitations:

  • Compared to other models, this model requires more time and effort.
  • This is a subjective procedure, and bias in opinion can influence its effectiveness.
  • Monitoring three attributes continuously take resources and time.
  • This model assumes attributes are present or absent, though, they may vary between these two.

Conclusion

The salience model helps you manage your stakeholders effectively. Although this model is more time consuming than others, it provides you with better analysis and understanding of your stakeholders. This model lets you focus your energy on important stakeholders and keeps you from wasting your time on less important ones. 

What do you think about the salience model for stakeholder classification? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Speak Your Mind

  • Thanks for this great expert.
    I have a comment though: Could you write the different stakeholder categories under different sub-titles?
    Like category 1. Latent includes Dormant, Discretionary
    Categorr 2. Expectant includes….

    Some thing like that. It was a bit confusing reading through at first

  • Hello sir
    Could you please provide me a question set for BASIC PROJECT MANAGEMENT STUDIES .
    I am IES aspirant from Lucknow (up) INDIA

  • Dear Fahad,
    Thanks for your good work. Very helpful article indeed. Atleast now I can answer my classwork without pressure. Thank you

  • Dear Fahad,
    It’s very good article.
    Can you indicate the major limitations of bi-directional models which have been addressed in salience model?
    Please give some example if possible.

  • I am working on a project right now (ridehailalliance.org) and stumbled across
    The Salience Model and I will be adding it to the website to illustrate what circle & intersections taxi uber drivers occupy now. Drivers are pretty legitimate, definately have urgency, but power is sorely lacking. One goal is to get out of the dormant/dangerous classification for sure. But the main goal is to organize, flip, the script, and plant our collective shareholder flag in the inner sanctum – but as independent small business owners… not “labor” or worse, an “input market”.
    You can’t know where you stand til you see where you stand. This model and your blog will be a huge help.
    Thanks!
    TaxiJen

  • Good articles. I read this knowledge in PMBOK for the first time. Then read Managing Stakeholders as Clients understand the definition of Salience models. After that clear and deep know of this topic. In parallel, I also want to share this information with my colleagues.

  • Hi
    Came across this articel in surch for different metods/models for stakholders analysis and find it very interesting. Writeing at the moment on my Bachelor deegre on the subject how project managment deals with stakeholders regarding training of employes.So fare we have onely learned about the girds and that you can find multi dimetionals models. Thank you for writing this article, would love to learn more about this model.

  • The power-interest and power-influence as you mentioned are the more popular ones. The Salience model is not as popular, why is it so? Isn’t this a better analysis for stakeholders that the others. As a matter of fact, can you help me understand which would be better during what sort of scenarios?

    • There might be many reasons to do so such as:

      1) It is time consuming
      2) You never used this technique
      3) Resistance to adapt a new technique
      3) Since it is subjective involves more parameter, chances of bias conclusion, etc.

      There is no better solution, you need to use a solution fit to your requirement.

  • how about other models in pmbok they discussed power/interest model and how we can deal with this model but for other model like power/influence and influence/impact how we can treat with them can you explain for us .

  • Hi Fahad – I really enjoy reading your articles. They tone down the complexity and explain the concepts in simple and uncomplicated way.

    Thank you. Its a pleasure reading.

    Hopefully will complete my PMP by mid 2016 🙂

  • Thanks Fahad for your very useful article,

    The Salience model is in fact included in the PMP material but often overlooked in favor of the older, simpler, bi-dimensional model. I find it is useful in addition to a power/interest grid in order to capture a broader scope.

    In particular this model helps bridge the gap with keeping in mind the requirements of specific stakeholders. It is their requirements in fact which determine their level of urgency for example. Also paying attention to the legitimacy of a stakeholder may increase the chances of directing the project so as to keep it in line with key business objectives.

    Aligning key requirements in the different phases of a project with each stakeholder is a practice which is key to developing the project scope. Understanding urgency and legitimacy in addition to power is very helpful in prioritizing those requirements.

    • You are right Max it is overlooked in favor bi-dimensional model. I personally also find this model more useful than other model discussed in the PMBOK Guide.

  • I want to know if ITTO is very important to study to pass the exam and how to study this? Do we have to memorize? or studying Rita Process Chart will be enough? I just sat for the exam last week; could not pass; had many quest

  • For example, Freeman’s broad definition allows practically anyone to be classified as a stakeholder as virtually anyone can affect or be affected by an organisation.

  • The Salience Model for project stakeholders was developed by Mitchell, Agle, and Wood to help managers identify and analyze project stakeholder needs. Unlike, the The Salience Model for project stakeholders is graphically depicted as a Venn diagram. Each assessment parameter has a major circle and the intersections of each major circle helps you identify project stakeholders that have multiple needs.

  • Hi Fahad,

    Thanks for your detailed explanation. But I don’t see any in depth questions about salience model in mock exams. They all relate with either to choose the stakeholder model or how to manage the stakeholders in power/Interest grid?

    May i know what triggered you to write this subject?

    Regards,
    Ram Narayan

    • Salience model is different model than other models discussed in the PMBOK Guide and very interesting as well. That is why I have shared this article with my visitors.

  • I am so glad I stumbled across this article. This tool makes a great deal of sense and I could see how it could be quite effective in the Identifying and Managing Stakeholders in guided group discussions. As Fahad mentioned, this is not described in the PMBOK guide. I don’t remember seeing this concept illustrated in Crowe’s book (which I otherwise found very helpful in general) or Kerzner’s book which was useful as a resource to be exposed to many supporting PMBOK concepts, but less useful as a guide to really illustrate and tie together the overall 47 processes and their ITTO’s.

  • There is two types of stakeholders, the primary stakeholders and secondary stakeholders and these two types should not be treated equally based on the influence they have on the project. The size of the project does not matter as long as you know how to treat them separately. Please read Harold Kerzner book called Project Management – A systems approach to planning, schedulling and control 9th Edition for more information.

    Regards,

    Johannes MKhwanazi Pr Techni Eng, Pr Project Manager ( PMSA)

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