The participation of diverse stakeholders in a matter most times involves conflict of interests. In this scenario, in order to reach consensus and to resolve conflicts, negotiation might be needed. However, in order to achieve a better outcome for all those involved, people need to be aware of their position in relation to others and also to understand other’s needs and position.
Thinking about how to manage those conflicts, Dr. Eva Schiffer created the net-mapping toolbox. Net-mapping is mapping tool based in interviewed, and helps people understand, visualize, discuss and improve situations in which many different actors influence outcomes (Schiffer, 2007). This tool helps to determine: what actors are involved in a given network; how are they linked; how influential they are; and, what are their goals.
Here is a video that can help better understanding this tool:
This tool can be used as a way of finding common ground on highly debated issues and help groups to clarify complex decision making processes by answering key questions. This tool could be very useful when involving stakeholders in which power and influence relations are not striking different. So, it could be a good tool for fostering the participation of socially excluded groups in design decisions, for example. However, this tool would not be useful when dealing with stakeholders in which the difference in power and influence are great obstacles. It could, instead of creating a common resolution, just manipulate outcomes or work as therapy (according to the latter theory of Arnstein, 1969)
Official webpage of the creator of this tool, Eva Schiffer, explaining the tool and with case studies: http://netmap.wordpress.com/
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), A hands-on social networking tool: Net-Map, available at: http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/os09netmap.pdf
Schiffer, Eva (2008) Tracing power and influence in networks: Net-map as a tool for research and strategic network planning, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), available at: http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/ifpridp00772.pdf
Abukari, M., Schiffer, E. and Hauck, J. (2009) Influence networking mapping: mapping power asymmetry in water user groups , International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), available at: http://www.ifad.org/english/water/innowat/tool/Tool_2web.pdf