Key differences between internal and external stakeholder analysis

What are the key differences between internal and external stakeholder analysis?

Many components of stakeholder analysis are the same whether you are engaging internally or externally, however, there are some key differences between internal and external stakeholder analysis that you need to be aware of when planning your engagement.

Key differences between internal and external stakeholder analysis

Response Rate

You are likely to get a much higher response rate from internal engagement (30-70% depending on your size and structure) compared with a much lower (1.5 – 9%) from external. Some external engagement can be as low as a 0.2% response rate.

With internal stakeholder engagement, it is expected that employees have a reasonable shared value and common organisational goals. This collective ethos should drive more engagement in terms of both quantity and quality.

However, this of course will be in response to a range of factors including how engaged the workforce already is, their trust and confidence in their leadership, whether their feedback will be identifiable, their trust in being listened to and in seeing change develop.

Duration of Employment

How long someone has been employed within an organisation can also have a significant impact on the level of their engagement.

For example, a casual employee who has just started will have very different motivations to engaging versus an employee of 15 years and the depth of their feedback will vary widely. It would be worth including this as a specific question in your engagement so you can review your data with this in mind.

It’s also important to have a strategy to reach casual or remote/dispersed staff or any long-term absences as it’s vital these people have their say too.


Geographic location is always a factor when engaging externally, however, it’s an important factor to consider even within your own organisation.

If we look at a Local Government organisation for example, staff are divided amongst multiple locations, some may work remotely or mainly from their vehicle with little or no access to emails or computers. This is important in terms of your internal engagement strategy as you can’t rely on company email alone.

Communication Channels

A benefit of internal engagement is that it’s likely you have multiple communication channels already set up you can utilise to reach your target audience. For example, you might have:

  • Company email
  • An intranet
  • Ability to create company-wide screensavers
  • Posters in main receptions or staff areas
  • A staff newsletter
  • Staff briefing sessions or team meetings
  • CEO / GM Roadshows
  • Free BBQ breakfasts for informal discussion and cohesion/relationship building

Often with external engagement, you are reliant on using mainstream or paid-for communication channels which you have less control over and are competing with other messages and advertising at the same time. In this space, it’s vital you get your messaging spot on to talk directly to your target audience otherwise they could easily miss it or believe it’s not for them.

Lower Cost for a higher reach/engagement level

Internal engagement of your stakeholders is generally less expensive than external stakeholder engagement as you have preset communication channels and a more engaged audience. This is not always the case and is highly dependent on your workforce composition and the outcomes of your engagement activity, however, when budgeting you should be able to commit a lower budget to internal engagement. The trade-off can be more staff time in attending briefings and working with various teams to increase the visibility and depth of engagement.

You may also like: Adopting Best Practice in Employee Engagement

If you are looking for more advice on external stakeholder analysis, check out our blogs on building confidence through effective stakeholder engagement and effective stakeholder analysis. 

Engagement Hub’s online participation software can be used for both internal and external stakeholder engagement with the ability to create both public and private projects as standard.

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