Social License to Operate as a Business Strategy

By Kathleen Wilburn and Ralph Wilburn.

Published by Organizational Cultures: An International Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Social License to Operate (SLO) can provide a strategy to understand the society and culture in which a company might wish to do business. Although the requirements of the company structure (corporate, private, or public) and governmental regulations must be met, they do not guarantee that a business will be successful operating in new territory. By aiming at a Social License to Operate granted from the stakeholders that are important to the business, a company can decrease the incidents of complaints to governments and even temporary shut-downs by the government. Social License to Operate is based on a United Nations initiative that required industries that operate in the territories of indigenous people to secure free, prior, and informed consent from those people, but is outside the legally granted right to operate a business. The paper considers stakeholder theory to determine who the stakeholders are that should be involved in granting a Social License to Operate. It then describes examples of the use of Social License to Operate in different countries by different companies. By gaining a license to operate from stakeholders, a company can create a level of trust on which to build partnerships and allow business decisions to be made more efficiently.

Keywords: Social License to Operate, Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, Business Strategy, Organization Culture

Organizational Cultures: An International Journal, Volume 13, Issue 3, October 2014, pp.21-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 575.175KB).

Dr. Kathleen Wilburn

Professor of Management, School of Management and Business, Graduate Programs, St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas, USA

Dr. Kathleen M. Wilburn is a a professor of management at St. Edward’s University. She teaches graduate courses in managerial problem solving, managing the organization, scenario planning, organizational behavior, and undergraduate courses in leadership and in problem solving and decision making. She has 25 years of management experience in the private and public sectors. She holds a doctorate from the University of Southern California. She co-authored Values-based Solving, now in its second edition; and published Scenarios: Imagining the Future, in 2008. Her research interests include problem solving and decision-making, scenario planning, and corporate social responsibility.

Dr. Ralph Wilburn

Assistant Professor of Management, School of Management and Business, St. Edward’s University, USA

Dr. H. Ralph Wilburn is an assistant professor of management at St. Edward’s University. He teaches graduate courses in managerial problem solving, managing the organization, and organizational behavior. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. His work experience includes managing training functions in the USAF as well as consulting work. He co-authored Values-based Solving, now in its second edition. His research interests include problem solving and decision-making, scenario planning, and corporate social responsibility.