Stakeholder saliency dynamics in strategic ICT projects in the Saudi public healthcare system: appreciative systems perspective

Taghred Al-Ghaith (2013)

This thesis explores the emergence of stakeholder saliency dynamics and their strategic influence over time on ICT projects in the Saudi public healthcare system. It seeks to deepen our understanding of stakeholder dynamics. This is of significance because failing to appreciate saliency dynamics and their strategic influence can lead to the failure of ICT projects. Especially in the highly turbulent public sector, the problematic situations of ICT projects are mostly attributed to the presence of multiple stakeholders- more than technology per se. Nevertheless, despite its importance and benefits, stakeholder dynamics are insufficiently addressed in stakeholder theory. Stakeholder theory offers theoretical models to identify salient stakeholders within a particular event or situation. However, it fails to provide a model to understand stakeholder dynamics and the generated influence throughout events. This research addresses this literature gap. In particular it challenges the staticity of stakeholder theory by instrumentally using appreciative systems concepts. In the existing literature, appreciative systems concepts are more individual-level orientated, while this work focuses on the appreciative setting of multiple stakeholders, or multiple stakeholder groups, and their changing roles and saliency through the life of a strategic project.

The research presented in this thesis uses a single case study methodology, with data collected primarily via interviews conducted in a large ICT project in a public Ministry Of Health hospital. Findings of this research argue that stakeholder saliency dynamics — i.e. the unsteady state of stakeholder attributes throughout events— reside in the relationship nature that stakeholders, through continual appreciative processes, seek with each other. Such dynamics directly influence the ICT project strategically, i.e. significant changes to direction, resources and objectives. Finally, the research reveals that stakeholder appreciative judgements and subconscious relationship selections are guided by certain institutional standards and norms.

Practically, these theoretical insights suggest a basis for a formal stakeholder tracking mechanism to facilitate practitioners in their management of stakeholder dynamics.

The findings of this thesis are important as they not only support and develop some elements of existing theory but also challenge the major limitation in stakeholder theory, which is its static state. This thesis introduces a fundamental extension to stakeholder theory, which is a new conceptual model of stakeholder dynamics. The model aids in understanding the development of stakeholder saliency dynamics and the resulting strategic influence on the project direction, resources and objectives throughout events.


Al-Ghaith T., Brown D. & Worthington D. (2013) Stakeholder saliency dynamics in strategic ICT projects