Salience Model

October 8, 2009

Salience model is a method for classifying stakeholders and to decide who do matter. The problem faced by project managers is how to choose the right stakeholders and how to prioritize competing claims of their communication needs. Stakeholder salience is decided by the assessment of their power, legitimacy and urgency in the organization. Power is defined as the ability of the stakeholder to impose their will. Urgency is the need for immediate action and legitimacy is whether their involvement is appropriate. The model lets the project manager decide the relative salience of a given stakeholder. “The degree to which managers give priority to competing stakeholder’s claims” be guided by how salient stakeholders are.

The following diagram illustrates the model.


The picture is based on a Venn diagram where each circle maps stakeholders with power, urgency and legitimacy. That creates 7 different classes. A manager has to decide who to be allocated priority depending on the map region where the stakeholder falls.

Out of the seven classifications the dormant stakeholder has power but not urgency or legitimacy. Thus the manager should be aware of them but there is no need to plan for their communication needs. Discretionary stakeholder has legitimacy but no power or urgency. His communications needs maybe in the form of actually asking for some details. This group also, thus does not need attention from the manager. Class 3 or the demanding stakeholders are those that have urgency. Their needs have to be met when asked for.

The classes that need close attention are the 4, 5, 6 and 7 where more than one dimensions overlap. Class 4 where power and legitimacy overlap are classified as dominant stakeholders. So, they have legitimate claim on your time and their communication needs have to be taken into account. Class 5 is where power and urgency overlap and are classified as dangerous stakeholders. With the given combination, they could actually be dangerous to your project’s welfare unless their demands can be met.

Class 6 stakeholders are defined as dependent stakeholders. They have legitimacy and the urgency but not commensurate power. They should be kept informed as they could be of help when you need to leverage their legitimacy and the urgency they can get from the organization.

What’s most important is the class 7 stakeholders- the definitive stakeholders. You need to meet this group’s every need as they are crucial to your project. This is the group where power, legitimacy converges and they get the urgency from the organization when they need it.

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16 Responses to Salience Model

  1. Lucia on November 3, 2009 at 8:01 am

    thank you and congratulations for your clear clarification of this concept

  2. Hayley on November 23, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Thank you, I have looked at many websites to get a clear understanding of Salience Model and you have explained it well.

    • Puneet Kuthiala, PMP on November 23, 2009 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks for dropping by. I am planning to write more about PMBOK related aspects. Please let me know what more you would like to see on this blog. I will try to cover more of it.

  3. Faisal on December 14, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Thank you very much for so easy to understand communication…

  4. Mohammad Amawi, PMP on January 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you so much, this is the first time that i get to understand this concept clearly.

  5. Rajesh Joshi on March 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks a lot for providing a clear understanding of the Salience model

  6. Tyrone on March 21, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Excellent description of the Salience Model very easy to understand.

  7. K.Hart on March 24, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I like this model. I see it as a great method for internal team communication. Is that the intention? I dont see this document as something that the actual identified & classified stakeholder sees. Yes?

  8. Luis on June 5, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Excellent and thanks so much for both your depiction and the explanation. Very useful.

  9. purnendu on May 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks for this lucid style of explaining Salience model.

  10. Dolores Perez Priegnitz on September 13, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Excellent explanation. Thanks for clarifying. Do you teach PMP Prep Classes?

  11. » Reflected Best Self Exercise on December 31, 2011 at 6:30 am

    [...] Brad Agle (the author of the Stakeholder’s Salience Model) asked our class to take the Reflected Best Self Exercise. The exercise rekindled awareness of my [...]

  12. Sayed Bishkar on December 15, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks so much for your clear explanation for SALIENCE MODEL, really it is very informative and very understood.

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