Social licence to operate (SLO) is a multiscale multilevel intangible agreement which represents implied consent from affected stakeholders towards projects developed by businesses or industries, independent from legal or statutory requirements (Taylor and Mahlangu, 2017[1]). This theoretical construct emerged in the late 1990s in the mining industry (Gunningham et al, 2004[2]) and has since then become ubiquitous in natural resources industries. Beyond the extensive research focus on the application of this concept in the extractive industries, SLO is also used to an increasing extent in other sectors such as forestry, agriculture, blue economy, renewable energy, and pulp & paper manufacturing (Hall et al., 2015[3], Moffat et al., 2014[4]; Voyer and Leewen 2019[5], Smits et al., 2016[6]; Wang, 2005[7]; Williams and Martin, 2011[8]; Carr-Cornish and Romanach, 2012[9]; Corvellec, 2007[10]; Hall et al., 2013[11]). Deployment of the term was made by the United National (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the UN ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework, which apply SLO as an argument for responsible business conduct, connecting to social expectations and bridging to public regulation (Buhmann, 2015[12]).

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[1] Taylor, D.F.P., & Mahlangu, S., (2017). Earning the Social Licence to Operate – A casestudy about culture, 5th International Conference on Management, Leadership andGovernance, 16-17 March 2017, Wits Business School, Johannesburg, South Africa
[2] Gunningham N, Kagan RA, Thornton D. 2004. Social license and environmental protection: why businesses go beyond compliance. Law Social Inquiry. 29:307–341.
[3] Hall, N., Lacey, J., Carr-Cornish, S., Dowd, A.-M., 2015. Social licence to operate: understanding how a concept has been translated into practice in energy industries. J. Clean. Prod. 86, 301– 310.
[4] Moffat, K., Zhang, A., 2014. The paths to social licence to operate: an integrative model explaining community acceptance of mining. Resources Policy 39, 61–70.
[5] Moffat, K., Zhang, A., 2014. The paths to social licence to operate: an integrative model explaining community acceptance of mining. Resources Policy 39, 61–70.
[6] Smits C.C.A., Justinussen J.C.S., Bertelsend R.G., 2016. Human capital development and a Social License to Operate: Examples from Arctic energy development in the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. Energy Research & Social Science. Volume 16, June 2016, Pages 122-131.
[7] Wang S., 2005. Managing Canada’s forests under a new social contract. For. Chron., 81, pp. 486- 490.
[8] Williams, J., and Martin, P.V., 2011. “Defending the Social License of Farming: Issues, Challenges and New Directions for Agriculture”. Edited by J. Williams and P. V. Martin. Collingwood, Australia: CSIRO Publishing, pp. 206, AU$49.95. ISBN 978-0-643-10159-3.
[9]  Carr-Cornish S., and Romanach L., 2012. Exploring community views toward geothermal energy technology in Australia. CSIRO.
[10] Corvellec, H., 2007. Arguing for a license to operate: the case of the Swedish wind power industry. Corporate Communications, 12 p.129-144.
[11] Hall, N., Ashworth, P., Devine-Wright, P., 2013. Societal acceptance of wind farms: analysis of four common themes across Australian case studies. Energy Policy, 58, pp. 200-208.
[12] Buhmann, K., 2015. Public Regulators and CSR: The ‘Social Licence to Operate’ in Recent United Nations Instruments on Business and Human Rights and the Juridification of CSR. Journal of Business Ethics volume 136, pages 699–714.