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Risky Business? On the interplay between social, actuarial and political risks and licences

Brueckner, M., Bice, S. and Pforr, C. (2017) Risky Business? On the interplay between social, actuarial and political risks and licences. In: Lu, H., Schmidpeter, R., Capaldi, N. and Zu, L., (eds.) Building New Bridges Between Business and Society. Springer, Cham, pp. 25-49.

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The concepts of ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) and ‘social licence to operate’ (SLO) have moved from obscurity to the business mainstream in recent years and indeed become cornerstones of many companies’ risk management strategies. Notwithstanding both concepts’ steep ascent, gaps in our understanding remain not only of their commonalities and differences but also of their politicality and conflicted nature.

Recent research on CSR and SLO in resource development contexts has highlighted the conflict potential between the political, social and actuarial risk dimensions that shape and define the CSR and SLO field. Especially in pro-development contexts where political primacy is given to economic and industry growth at the expense of often less tangible and visible social and environmental values this risk potential was found to be exacerbated.

Against this background, this paper engages previously established social and actuarial licences and introduces a third, political licence. Together, these three licenses not only define the CSR and SLO terrains but also help bring together both strands of theory. This triad of licences is placed within a dynamic risk framework that helps progress the CSR and SLO discourses from typical organisational risk management approaches and provides a more holistic conceptualisation of the field of licenses to be navigated and negotiated by all SLO/CSR stakeholders. This approach can serve as a foundation for critical research in the CSR and SLO space, enabling the analysis of, and discussion on, the meaning, intention and probable implications of the various, at times competing types of licences and explicating some of the conceptual weaknesses that have long plagued both scholarly fields.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability
Publisher: Springer, Cham
Copyright: © 2018 Springer International Publishing AG
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