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Terminology Corner
Multistakeholderism

A governance model or structure, sometimes known as a multistakeholder initiative, that seeks to bring stakeholders together to participate in the dialogue, decision making, and implementation of solutions to common problems or goals. The principle behind such a model/structure is that, if enough input is provided by all actors involved in a question, the eventual consensual decision gains more legitimacy and, therefore, better reflects a set of perspectives rather than a single source of validation.

Forms of multistakeholderism may be distinguished as representative multistakeholderism in which a limited number of roles are distributed to representatives through some selection process, and open multistakeholderism, which relies on participants self-selecting to balance perspectives.

The pursuit of a consensual decision differs from other models of democracy. Multistakeholderism implies or assumes equal weight of the stakeholders in deliberation and decision making. It is important to understand the power relationship within any multistakeholder governance model and interrogate the moral weight of each with respect to the respective interest represented by the stakeholders. A moral distortion arises in structures that treat private, plural and public interests equally; whereas, in fact, the pursuit of private interests typically creates and imbalance and generates contention with the plural and public interested parties within the group.



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