Many different actors are involved in open government data (OGD) initiatives, and it can be hard to understand the different roles they play.
Stakeholder analysis can help, such as mapping onto a power-interest grid (see example below). This analyses stakeholders according to their power to impact the development and implementation of open government data, and their level of interest in OGD. The former measured via a typical sources-of-power checklist: reward, coercive, legitimate, expert, personal, informational, affiliative. The latter measured via text analysis of stakeholder statements.
Primary stakeholders are “those who have formal, official, or contractual relationships and have a direct and necessary… impact” (Savage et al., 1991:62). Others who affect or are affected by OGD but less formally and directly and essentially, can be categorised as secondary.
Applying this to Chile’s open government data initiative produced the mapping shown in the figure.
We can draw two conclusions. First, that OGD in Chile has been mostly determined from within government. Second, that it has otherwise been shaped rather more by international than national forces.
Three absent stakeholders can be noted:
- The local private sector is not an active part of the ecosystem at present, restricting options to derive economic value from OGD.
- Citizens are not active in discussion or use of open government data, restricting options to derive political value from OGD.
- Multinational firms and investors are not directly involved, but have a tertiary role: they are an audience to whom the presence and progress of OGD is sometimes projected.
In sum, this is an “inwards and upwards” pattern of open government data which is shaping OGD’s trajectory in the country. Government is the “sun” and other stakeholders merely “planets”, so that perspectives and agendas within government dominate. One agenda is to broadcast signals of democracy to the outside world.
In facing “upwards” to these external stakeholders, what matters most is an appearance of transparency. This can be satisfied by the presence of datasets, some empowerment and accountability rhetoric in pronouncements, and membership of the Open Government Partnership and adherence to its minimum standards. This is not to say that government stakeholders care nothing for delivery of results; simply that the external audience-related incentives are much stronger for appearance than fulfilment.
Stakeholder analysis should therefore be a fundamental tool for open government data researchers and practitioners; helping them to understand the identities, strengths and weaknesses of key OGD actors.
This research is reported in more detail in: Gonzalez-Zapata, F. & Heeks, R. (2015) The multiple meanings of open government data: understanding different stakeholders and their perspectives, Government Information Quarterly, 32(4), 441-452Follow @CDIManchester