ABSTRACT

Managing a network of stakeholders A network perspective has been adopted by several event researchers to understand the complex relationships which event managers must effectively manage. From the small community event (Mackellar 2006) and music festivals (Andersson and Getz 2008; Karlsen and Stenbacka Nordström 2009) to mega-events such as the Olympic Games (Hautbois et al. 2012), researchers have identified a basic stakeholder network through which events are managed. As illustrated in Figure 7.1, the event organisation (in this case the coordinator of a community festival) is the focal point of the network, which has myriad extended ties and connections to other people and/or organisations. Some of these connections offer volunteer services, or in-kind support, while others provide contracted services such as security, staging and lighting. Efficient event managers quickly identify the existing networks with which they can access resources, food, entertainment, staging, performers or creative hubs. Often these connections are set deeply into the community and are resurrected for many events throughout the year. Many communities, for example, have food and craft markets which can be used and re-used at different events in the region. Researchers interested in the functions of these event networks examine aspects of the network including the number of ties between nodes (density) and

how influential the central organisations can be on others (centrality). The network perspective can be very useful to researchers to determine how effectively an event works within its community, destination, or political environment. Importantly, the network analysis identifies the ‘stakeholders’ to the event – those with a vested interest in the event, expecting some type of social, economic or personal return for their efforts. Researchers can identify stakeholder organisations as critical to the success of an event, and recommend increased resources and support in that area. In studying various event networks, it has been found that some events require greater involvement from the community stakeholders than others. For example, Hall and Sharples (2008) emphasise the need to consider a range of stakeholders when planning and managing food and wine festivals, and suggest that local residents need to be involved in planning and evaluating the event – particularly as they provide much of the food content and image content for the event itself. They will provide the authentic experience required by the audience and are key stakeholders. Alternatively, sporting events such as cycling races may require less direct involvement from the community, and yet require much more local coordination from road and traffic agencies and local government authorities to successfully stage the event. Sport events also require cooperation and communication from sports associations or those who make the competition rules for the sport. These stakeholders may not exist within the local community, and may require coordination from organisations far from the event location. Identifying the network of stakeholders, and designing effective tools for communication with all network stakeholders, is an essential step for managing event audiences. The process involves identifying the stakeholders and asking four basic questions.