How is a social licence represented in the context of New Zealand?
Thesis DisciplineBusiness Administration
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
The Social Licence to Operate (SLO) concept was introduced in the late 1990’s as a means by which mining companies could prevent opposition from communities and stakeholders to their operations. The employment of the SLO term has since become heavily embedded within Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and related reporting practices across a variety of sectors and in different jurisdictions, becoming part of business and policy discourse, with respect to corporate environmental and social responbility. While the notion of SLO is used in a variety of sectors, the majority of the academic literature on SLO is from Australia or North America. In addition, little inter-industry comparisons have been conducted with single industry studies, and particular of mining and energy, being dominant. Therefore, this thesis investigates how SLO is represented and utilised in the New Zealand business context.
This thesis has two main components. First, a review and discussion of the SLO literature is presented, using both a thematic and systematic literature review. Second, a content analysis was conducted on the annual reports, sustainability reports and online content of all 65 members of the New Zealand Sustainable Business Council (NZSBC), in order to determine how New Zealand companies operationalise the SLO concept. The NZSBC was chosen for this research due to the council being a platform for collaboration on sustainable business practice, including having released a report on the value of SLO to business. The content analysis examined the environmental, non-environmental and engagement attributes of SLO identified in the literature review.
Although only four NZSBC members explicitly used the term SLO the attributes of SLO were identified as being present to varying degrees in the media provided by members. Significantly, the sectors in which these attributes and usage occurred were substantially different from those identified in the international literature. The thesis concludes by drawing attention to the managerial and theoretical contributions of the study and provides suggestions for further avenues of SLO research.