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Managing Stakeholder Conflict When Conducting Market Research

Anticipating Stakeholder Conflict

In the dynamic landscape of market research, success isn't just about gathering data; it's about harmonising stakeholder views to uncover valuable insights. At Mackman Research, we understand that all parties hold valuable information but bringing this to the forefront and navigating the diverse perspectives of stakeholders may sometimes require a strategic approach. In this article we explore conflict resolution, facilitating harmony among stakeholders through market research and how this begins with true understanding of the research aims and exploring the added value that working with an independent research agency can bring.

Understanding why the research is being carried out

The term stakeholder refers to any individual or group that has a vested interest in a location, service or product. Before reaching out to stakeholders, it's essential to ask questions about the context of the work, i.e.) What is the issue at hand, is there a new opportunity for growth and where are the points of conflict? Who will make up the research audience and do you need to adopt different data collection methodologies to suit stakeholder needs? Answers to these questions will help to understand why a particular research audience has been chosen and identify any potential conflicts that may exist between them.

Conflicting values and strained relationships that already exist within organisations can hinder the research process, leading to subpar data collection. Researchers are trained to manage and work towards resolving such conflict. Therefore, it's crucial to anticipate conflicts and implement strategies to address them proactively. As such, researchers are often required to communicate to stakeholders why participation in the work would be in their best interest.  Being able to convey the aims and objectives of the research to stakeholders fosters open communication and demonstrates empathy towards stakeholders’ needs.

Being mindful of stakeholder needs

Identifying and engaging with all relevant stakeholders is essential for gathering data holistically in a market research project. While stakeholders may have differing views and perspectives on how to achieve a common goal, their shared intention to achieve it remains consistent. Sometimes our role as researchers is to act as intermediaries, facilitating constructive dialogue to gather insights from a diverse group of participants.

Each stakeholder brings valuable expertise and insights to the table, so it's important to ask the right questions and adapt our communication style accordingly. By demonstrating active listening, empathy, and cultural sensitivity, we can create a conducive environment for stakeholders to express their thoughts and concerns freely. Such ethnographic skills play a crucial role in accounting for cultural differences and ensuring inclusivity in the research process. By fostering trust, empowerment, building rapport, and allowing stakeholders to express themselves fully, we can maximise participation and gather a nuanced understanding of the issue at hand. 

Team Meeting | Stakeholder Conflict | Mackman Research

Having voices heard

Central to the role of a researcher is ensuring that all voices are heard, and a key element to this is having a collaborative, problem-solving approach. Empirical data should be objectively analysed to identify areas of common ground and divergence. Time should also be taken to find mutually beneficial solutions that address underlying issues. Here, recommendations should be developed with careful consideration of stakeholders' opinions, always keeping the end goal of the research in mind.  

The added value market research companies bring

Stakeholder conflict commonly occurs when new initiatives or strategies are introduced to an organisation. At Mackman Research, we are familiar with managing conflicted participant groups when collecting data. A third-party or independent market research company can help to minimise the effect of conflict throughout the entire research process, from the planning stage to ensure all relevant stakeholders are identified; during data collection, where we adapt data collection methods to suit stakeholder needs; through to developing strategic recommendations for your organisation that are respectful of all stakeholder views.

By acting as a neutral facilitator, a market research agency can steer discussions towards productive outcomes and guide the conflict resolution process while maintaining impartiality. Such a process can minimise misunderstanding and align desired outcomes, focusing efforts on common goals. This can all be achieved by using neutral language in communications to ensure all parties feel respected and valued. Layering this with humanistic and plain-speaking means is an approach we pride ourselves in at Mackman Research.  

The Importance Of Conflict Resolution 

At Mackman Research, we believe that facilitating harmony among stakeholders is essential for driving meaningful insights and achieving success. Understanding the objectives, engaging with stakeholders effectively, and ensuring that all voices are heard, is critical in using data-driven insight to reach mutually acceptable solutions and inform decision-making. By maintaining open communication and staying attuned to changing needs, we can prevent future conflict by achieving buy-in from opposing stakeholder groups, enabling organisations to move forward.

Farzana Chowdhury

Farzana Chowdhury


Farzana is a Researcher at Mackman, specialising in B2B customer satisfaction, perception surveys, NPS surveys, and social research. With a background in Biomedical Sciences from Queen Mary University and a PhD in Immunology, a running theme in all her interests have been to conduct high quality research to make a meaningful impact on society.

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