Means, motive, and opportunity: A method for understanding stakeholder agency within food- energy- water systems

Kate I.T. Bird, Virginia A. Nichols, Eduardo S. Garay, Matthew Nowatzke, Ch'Ree Essary, Kimberly K. Post, Alison V. Deviney, Jacqueline S. Welles, Mumuni O. Alao, Freda Elikem Dorbu, John J. Classen, Jacek A. Koziel, Erin L. Cortus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wicked problems are inherent in food–energy–water systems (FEWS) due to the complexity and interconnectedness of these systems, and addressing these challenges necessitates the involvement of the diverse stakeholders in FEWS. However, successful stakeholder engagement requires a strong understanding of the relationships between stakeholders and the specific wicked problem. To better account for these relationships, we adapted a means, motive, and opportunity (MMO) framework to develop a method of stakeholder analysis that evaluates the agency of stakeholders related to a wicked problem in FEWS. This method involves two key components: (1) identification of a challenge at the FEWS nexus and (2) evaluation of stakeholder agency related to the challenge using the dimensions of MMO. This approach provides a method for understanding the characteristics of stakeholders in FEWS and provides information that could be used to inform stakeholder engagement in efforts to address wicked problems at the FEWS nexus. In this article, we present the stakeholder analysis method and describe an example application of the MMO method by examining stakeholder agency related to the adoption of improved swine waste management technology in North Carolina, USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 4 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been generously funded by the National Science Foundation via grant numbers: 1639340 and 1833225. This work was further supported by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture via the S-1074 Multistate Research Group Project entitled Future Challenges in Animal Production Systems: Seeking Solutions through Focused Facilitation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s).


  • Environmental sustainability
  • FEWS
  • Livestock production
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Transdisciplinary research


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