Looking at the social licence concept through an economic lens | Nikki Dumbrell

For the Food Values Research Group’s final seminar of 2019, we are pleased to welcome Nikki Dumbrell:

Looking at the social licence concept through an economic lens

Nikki Dumbrell, Centre for Global Food and Resources, The University of Adelaide

The term ‘social licence to operate’, introduced in natural resource dependent industries, such as mining, in the 1990s has become increasingly used to describe social and environmental standards for firms to meet, as well as the guidelines to meet them. Formally, a firm or project with a social licence is said to enjoy the (intangible) ongoing acceptance or approval by local stakeholders and communities who are affected by the firm or their activities, and who can affect the profitability of the firm. Growth in frequency and breadth of use of the term has contributed to a substantial body of research. Consequently, there is an increasing need to understand what is known and what additional research or alternate perspectives could bring to understanding of the concept, especially as social licence continues to suffer from some definitional and operational ambiguity.

A systematic literature review was used to identify and synthesize knowledge and identify gaps in the social licence literature. Particular attention was paid to economics perspectives of social licence. This presentation will outline the emergence and subsequent use of the term and drivers of concern about the social licence status of natural resource dependent industries such as mining, energy, agriculture and fisheries. Taking an economic perspective, it is argued that social licence concerns are motivated by: (1) negative externalities; (2) undersupply of public goods; and (3) the use of socially valuable resources for the generation of private profits. This research could serve as a starting point to expand and improve clarity in the social licence debate to include social welfare implications of any decision to grant/withhold a social licence.

WHEN: Tuesday 17th December, 12-1 PM

WHERE: Ira Raymond Room, Barr Smith Library, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide (click here for campus map)

Nikki Dumbrell is interested in research at the nexus of environmental, agricultural and economic systems. She seeks to engage in research projects that can inform policy decisions and improve livelihoods.

Her PhD research (commenced mid-2018) is concerned with links between the social licence to operate, economics and decision-making with particular focus applied to natural resource dependent industries.

For much of 2017-2018 she worked on projects to improve the profitability and sustainability of vegetable industries in south east Asia (at The University of Adelaide).

For much of 2013-2016 she worked on projects related to carbon farming adoption and the trade-offs between greenhouse gas mitigation and other objectives for Australian grain growers (at The University of Western Australia).

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