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Technology in Stakeholder Engagement: Initial Results of an Industry Survey

Written by Ulula

July 8, 2014

Brendan Murphy and Oseyi Ikuenobe

New research by Daniel Franks (Center for Social Responsibility in Mining) and Queensland University and Rachel Davis (Shift) find that delays in world-class mining operations valued between US$ 3 and US$ 5 billion caused by conflict with communities can incur costs of up to US$ 20 million per week (see Ulula blog on this topic). Given these figures it is important to understand how companies approach community relations and stakeholder management.

In the last weeks, Ulula worked with a research team from New York University Stern School of Business and University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business to conduct a survey of industry professionals in oil, gas, mining, and agribusiness on the tools that they utilize to engage community stakeholders. The survey provides a snapshot of existing stakeholder engagements tools and models professionals use, how they rate their effectiveness, and what improvements practitioners would like to see. While the survey is still open, we would like to share initial results in this blog.

To participate in the in the survey, please follow this link.


The survey’s respondents were varied in job title, position and geographic location. 48% of respondents identified themselves as based with the “Corporate/Public Affairs” department, and job titles respondents hold include Community Relations Specialist, Global Head-Environment & Sustainability, and Managing Director. The portfolios that respondents currently manage span 6 continents and 54% reported working at a regional location.

Key Insights

1) Stakeholder issues frequently interfere with operations at site level

  • 60% of respondents have faced work stoppages over the past year due to stakeholder engagement issues. 15% of the respondents reported that they faced more than 5 work stoppages this year alone.

2) Efficient communication with stakeholders is easy – or hard

  • 20% of professionals responded that communication with stakeholders is “easy”, while 35% stated that it was “difficult” or “very difficult”. This shows that methods exist that enable efficient stakeholder communication, but suggests those methods are not standardized or applicable in every environment.

3) Wide Breadth of Technology

  • Respondents reported that companies currently use a wide spectrum of technologies and methods to engage with communities. At least half of respondents reach out to communities via social media, email, radio, and television. 23% utilize mobile text or voice data.

4) Improvements are necessary in a number of fields

  • Responding professionals would particularly see improvements in tools for the following tasks:
    • Community Social Investment and Shared Value Initiatives- 80%
    • Map Local Vendors/ Distribute Procurement Opportunities- 75%
    • Survey of Local Skills and Advertise job Opportunities- 75%
    • Community Grievance Collection- 65%

5) The potential for mobile technology

  • 56% of respondents state that they would like to use mobile technology in the future. Respondents see mobile tools as a useful method for “Collection and Market Research”, “Polling” and, “Employment and Recruiting”.

In a follow-on question, a handful of respondents mentioned that poor access to technology combined with low literacy rates could create a barrier to introducing mobile tools.

A second round of the survey is currently underway. If you would like to be involved, please follow this link.


Oseyi Ikuenobe

Oseyi Ikuenobe is a senior specialist for business and product development. Oseyi has nearly a decade of experience in enterprise technology and innovation from roles at Monsanto and Schlumberger where he was responsible for technology strategy, product architecture, design and development for important business capabilities such as mobile technologies, transactional portals, and collaboration tools.

Brendan Murphy is an MBA candidate at New York University Stern School of Business and a Summer Associate with Ulula. Oseyi Ikuenobe is an MBA candidate at University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, focused on Global Leadership and Innovation and an advisor to Ulula on business and product development.


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