#1 By: Avri Doria, February 5th, 2014 00:35
One of the issues that comes up as the multistakeholder increases in use, is that different groups divide stakeholders along different lines.
In one sense, given general categories like:
- government - not government
- government, private sector, civil society
The Categories are so general, that they can't help but include almost everyone. But so many other possible stakeholder groups are aggregated into these very general categories, that once those groups start to function as groups they tend to further subdivide into other stakeholder grouping.
Sometimes stakeholders affiliate into groups that do not map to the more aggregated groups - e.g Users Groups with both private sector and civil society members, in a world split into commercial and non commercial actors. When this happens there is often a panic of exclusion: "We are excluded. We cannot nominate because we are neither fish nor fowl."
I often think that the solution is simple: "nominate people for every category in which it makes sense to nominate someone. There is no rule that says the Users Group cannot send nominees to both the Private Sector Stakeholder groups and also to the Civil Society Stakeholder groups - as long as different people are in each list.
At some point such as group as the Users Group might become a stakeholder at the next level building bottom-up. That can be a very reasonable goal for that group to have. But in the meantime, they can avoid the problem of being excluded from participation by participating in the groups that are being considered.
While this seems so easy to me, it does not seem to happen this way. Why is that, and how do we move beyond those inhibitions?
#2 By: David Cake, February 9th, 2014 23:51
There is a significant difference between formalised stakeholder groups being used as a mechanism to ensure broad participation, and stakeholder groups being used as a mechanism for the allocation of resources (with cases in which they are used as a mechanism for formal allocation of representation somewhere in between). In the case were stakeholder groups are used only to ensure participation, I agree that the obvious solution is to not force exclusionary definitions that force groups that do not neatly fit into a single stakeholder silo to participate in only one - that can both be exclusionary, and effectively silence part of their representative role.
The problem arises when resources are allocated on strict stakeholder lines, in what is effectively a zero-sum game - in which case, each stakeholder group will perceive allocation of resources to a group with mixed loyalties as a weakening of their own access to resources to the gain of another. But there are very good reasons for the allocation of resources such as travel funding to participants in multi-stakeholder processes - especially to facilitate the participation of less resources stakeholders such as civil society.
So, I think we are left with a couple of alternative responses - either mitigation of the problem, or an alternate system. There are a number of possible tactic to to mitigate the stakeholder siloization issue, such as adding some additional resources that groups that sit uneasily between silos can access, encouraging alternate means of participation that do not require the same access to resources (i.e. remote participation), or finding some means of encouraging stakeholder groups to broaden their membership to include those that cross stakeholder group boundaries, or targetting exist mechanisms that are outside strict stakeholder group lines (e.g. ICANN GNSO NomCom appointees) specifically at groups that do not clearly fit within a stakeholder group category. Or we could rethink the whole idea, and start allocating resources on a different basis, such as allocating resources to individuals based on participation (which, in itself, has a whole different set of problems).
I think most likely we should aim for a mitigation strategy or a mixed strategy - that is, acknowledge that allocating resources based on stakeholder groups can lead to siloization, and identify a couple of supplementary strategies that we can provide to facilitate break down the allocation of resources on a stakeholder silo basis. And, of course, keep dialogues as open as possible (using stakeholder groups only as a mechanism to encourage a broad range of interests in discussion).