Is your community capable of issuing a durable social licence?
Most discussion on the social licence to operate focuses on how a company can earn and maintain it. What about the community’s capacity to credibly issue it? Using a typology developed from studies of stakeholder networks around the world, this paper discusses common socio-political dynamics within communities that reduce either the legitimacy or the durability of any social licence they might offer. Companies need to know which type of network structure their host community has in order to be able to raise the community’s issuing capacity. For example, communities with a strong core and weak periphery probably contain a self-serving elite. Such cores often claim to speak for everyone but do not enjoy the popular support to legitimize that claim. Communities with strong peripheries and a weak core likely have rival factions competing for control of the community agenda. Companies can easily be drawn into these power struggles either as allies or as villains against whom the discontented can be united. Rather than repeatedly experiencing the associated frustrations and delays, companies can use the typology to foster the growth of community and stakeholder networks structured for accountable leadership.
social licence to operate, Community relations, socio-political risk, community capacity, stakeholder engagement, Stakeholders