Skip to main content

Stakeholder identification and engagement in problem structuring interventions

Gregory, Amanda; Atkins, Jonathan; Midgley, Gerald; Hodgson, Anthony


Anthony Hodgson


This paper addresses the under-researched issue of stakeholder identification and engagement in problem structuring interventions. A concise framework to aid critical reflection in the design and reporting of stakeholder identification and engagement is proposed. This is grounded in a critical-systemic epistemology, and is informed by social identity theory. We illustrate the utility of the framework with an example of a problem structuring workshop, which was part of a green innovation project on the development of a technology for the recovery of rare metals from steel slag. The workshop was initially going to be designed to surface stakeholder views on the technology itself. However, it became apparent that a range of other strategic issues concerning the future of the site were going to impact on decision making about the use of steel slag. It therefore became important to evolve the agenda for the problem structuring, and this is where the critical-systemic approach made a difference. It enabled the workshop to be reframed as a community-based event looking at how the former steelworks site could be developed for new purposes. Evaluation of this problem structuring intervention revealed significant stakeholder learning about the issues needing to be accounted for, and a range of possible options for the development of the steelworks site were explored. The paper ends with a discussion of the utility of social identity theory for understanding the processes and outcomes of the workshop, and reflections are provided on its implications for operational research practice more generally.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2020
Print ISSN 0377-2217
Electronic ISSN 0377-2217
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 283
Pages 321-340
APA6 Citation Gregory, A., Atkins, J., Midgley, G., & Hodgson, A. (2020). Stakeholder identification and engagement in problem structuring interventions. European journal of operational research, 283, 321-340.
Keywords problem structuring methods; community operational research; stakeholder analysis; critical systems thinking; green innovation


Published article (1.3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.
This is an open access article under the CC BY license. (

You might also like

Downloadable Citations