Stakeholders Communication Approach

A New Era


Damiano Bragantini, PMP®


Matteo Licciardi

Megareti SpA

Verona, Italy



The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that as communication must be transparent and clear and democratic, this means know why and with whom we are communicating. Are stakeholders all equal? Do they need the same strategic communication approach?

Throughout a literature review that suggests how to identify the stakeholders and how to manage them, it is proposed a new communication oriented approach as it is established that a two-way communication approach is the business model for the future.

It is suggested to investigate relationship and agreement attributes to help the project manager in categorize the stakeholders from the point of view of communication approach. These attributes are strictly connected with communication strategy as they could be modified through the right communication approach. Also it’s suggested to share the identification phase of the stakeholders with the identification phase of the risks, in order to build risks/stakeholders matrix that should be integrated with relationship and agreement attribute for each stakeholder.

For each stakeholder should be ethical to shape the more appropriate communication approach. By using a new paradigm of the well-known rhetorical triangle, pathos, logos and overall ethos are the constraints to solve to build the right communication approach for each stakeholder.

The results of this study reveals that the application of the new attributes, relationship and agreement throughout the stakeholder shape tool, combined with the re-engineered rhetorical triangle will drive the project manager toward the right communication approach for each stakeholder and a successful communication plan.

Key words: stakeholders, communication, ethics

JEL code: O15, D8


In literature there are many definitions on what is a stakeholder, indeed the debate is very open, sometime confuse and contested (Miles, 2012). One of the most accepted definition is by Freeman (Freeman, 1984) “any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization’s objectives” that is quite similar to the one we find in PMBOK “An individual, group or organization who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity or outcome of the project” (PMI, 2013).

These definitions are, indeed, very widely and without any doubt, to stay alive, the project manager needs to assign attributes to each stakeholder to manage him/her in the best way.

In literature the most used attributes to analyze and prioritize the stakeholders are:

  • power,
  • legitimacy
  • urgency
  • proximity

where (Snauwaert, 2012):

  • “Power is the ability of those who possess power to bring about the outcomes they desire (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1977)
  • Legitimacy is a generalized perception or assumption that the actions of an entity are desirable, proper, or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs, and definitions (Suchman, 1995, p. 574)
  • Urgency is the degree to which stakeholder claims call for immediate attention (Mitchel et al., 1997)
  • Proximity is the degree to which stakeholders are closely associated or relatively remote to the organization/ project (Bourne & Walker, 2006)”.

Also, there are different models for classification such as “regulator, controller, partner, passive, dependent and non-stakeholder” (Mainardes et al., 2012).

In the vision of Mitchell et al. (1997), the classification options are: dormant stakeholder, discretionary stakeholder, demanding stakeholder, dominant stakeholder, dangerous stakeholder, and dependent stakeholder.


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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 Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States, University of Latvia, April 2017. It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

About the Authors

Damiano Bragantini

Verona, Italy


Damiano Bragantini
 is a Civil Engineer with more 15 years of experience in Civil Infrastructure and Information Technology experience. Currently he is working with Agsm Group, an important Italian utility in generation, distribution and supply of electricity and gas. Mr. Bragantini is also a recognized teacher at the University of Liverpool (UK) where he teaches in the online project management MSc program. Mr. Bragantini is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI). He has been also actively involved with PMI as a final Exposure Draft Reviewer for Project Cost Estimating Standard, Practice Standard for Earned Value and PMBOK sixth Edition and as internal reviewer of PMBOK Fifth Edition. Mr. Bragantini has also been actively involved and is still involved with the local PMI Northern Italy Chapter, where he has been a contributor to some projects. Damiano Bragantini can be contacted at [email protected]


Matteo Licciardi

Verona, Italy


Matteo Licciardi
 is graduated in Business & Administration at Verona University, Italy. He attended also a college year in Tampere University, Finland. He worked in Verona University, in a multinational corporation working in craftsmanship and transportation sector, and in the biggest financial institution of Verona. After these experiences, he found the opportunity of working in Agsm Group, an important Italian utility in generation, distribution and supply of electricity and gas. He frequently collaborates with IKN Italy (Institute of Knowledge & Networking), an Italian company leader in organization of professional training and development events. Matteo Licciardi can be contacted at [email protected]