Blackstone’s assignments have included a large number of social analyses and social assessment projects in Canada and in some 45 countries around the world. Utilizing qualitative and quantitative research techniques, our social assessments and socio-economic analyses provide our clients with very vivid and accurate information and insights regarding conditions that could affect the success of a proposed project, create adverse impacts on local people and institutions, or offer opportunities to build on assets/create linkages.
We carry out social analysis work based on a sustainable livelihoods approach. This approach is focused not only on needs assessment and problem identification, but also on detailed analysis of the positive assets that are available to build upon, particularly with regard to social capital and “social energy” among the local people. Our work almost always involves highly participatory, iterative stakeholder development processes. We look for realistic solutions that can provide benefits for all of the stakeholders, including the most vulnerable people. Our strong analytical approaches strive to avoid the production of simplistic “wish lists” that do not lead to any action. Instead, we provide our clients and stakeholders with action-oriented recommendations that take into consideration the capacity to implement any such recommendations. It is our experience that this type of approach leads to widespread agreement among the various parties, can avoid painful and expensive conflict resolution processes down line, and generates real and visible results.
Intensive Stakeholder Engagement is incorporated into most assignments we undertake. Meaningful engagement is crucial in order to ensure that:
- Key stakeholders’ interests and concerns, particularly those who are most vulnerable, are understood and integrated into decision-making;
- Decisions are based on an accurate understanding of baseline conditions;
- Costly delays and disruptions of projects arising from stakeholder dissatisfaction are avoided.
SE need not be expensive or time-consuming. Our Stakeholder Engagement & Social Assessment methodology utilizes a highly specialized rapid appraisal approach developed over many years to capture vital socio-economic conditions, issues, complexities and opportunities in a cost and time effective way.
We combine several investigative tools and methods, as appropriate, combining both qualitative and quantitative approaches to provide triangulation. These include, among others:
- Secondary source materials analysis;
- Identification of “lessons learned” from other organizations/jurisdictions;
- Stakeholder mapping;
- Institutional (organizational) analysis;
- Key informant interviews across many sectors;
- Focus groups;
- Case studies;
- Workshops and seminars;
- Targeted quantitative surveys;
- Human resource capacity evaluations;
- Monitoring and evaluation.
Our Stakeholder Engagement and Social Assessment assignments have had direct, demonstrable positive impacts on the success of our clients’ programs and projects.