BackgroundDespite broad consensus on the importance of community and stakeholder engagement (CSE) for guiding the development, regulation, field testing, and deployment of emerging vector control technologies (such as genetically engineered insects), the types of activities pursued have varied widely, as have the outcomes. We looked to previous CSE efforts for clarity about appropriate methods and goals. Our analysis yielded a typology of CSE, and related vocabulary, that describes distinctions that funders, organizers, and scholars should make when proposing or evaluating CSE.
MethodsWe compiled available formal documentation of CSE projects, starting with projects mentioned in interviews with 17 key informants. Major features of these examples, including the initiators, target groups, timing, goals, and methods were identified using qualitative coding. Based on these examples, subcategories were developed for a subset of features and applied to the identified cases of CSE in the documents. Co-occurrence of subcategorized features was examined for patterns.
ResultsWe identified 14 documented examples CSE projects, which were comprised of 28 distinct CSE activities. We found no clear patterns with respect to timing. However, we found that grouping examples according to whether initiators or targets could enact the immediate desired outcome could help to clarify relationships between goals, methods, and targets.
ConclusionBased on this analysis, we propose a typology that distinguishes three categories of CSE: engagement to inquire -where initiators are empowered to act on information collected through engagement with target groups; engagement to influence -where initiators engage to affect the actions of already-empowered target groups; and engagement to involve -where initiators engage to delegate authority to target groups. The proposed typology can serve as a guide for establishing the goals, identifying appropriate methods, and evaluating and reporting CSE projects by directing attention to important questions to be asked well before determining who to engage and how.