RP2.10-01 Decision making and the role of social licence in natural resources

Executive Summary

This PhD project explored the relationship between social licence, decision-making and economics and addressed the prevailing ambiguity of the ‘social licence’ concept. Specifically, the research sought to use economics perspectives to bring greater clarity to the understanding and analysis of the social licence concept and social licence outcomes. Both qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques were used to address this overarching objective, including a systematic review of the social licence literature, a qualitative comparative analysis of conditions associated with of social licence outcomes, and multimethod analyses of case studies using the future fuels industry as a case study.

Specific objectives of the research included:

  1. Systematically reviewing and synthesising the social licence literature to understand key research themes and how these relate to the foundations of welfare economics;
  2. Identifying whether the conditions that drive social licence outcomes differ across natural resource dependent industries and institutional settings;
  3. Testing the applicability of social licence models for measuring the social licence of energy transmission infrastructure, particularly the social licence of a high-pressure natural gas transmission pipeline as decided by agricultural landholders; and
  4. Identifying the trade-offs the public in south-eastern Australia may be willing to make in the transition to future fuels, namely, hydrogen energy.

The research was subsumed within a PhD research project completed at the University of Adelaide.

Login Full project details are available to participants of the CRC, please login or contact us to create your account.
Commencement / End Date December 2019 to December 2021
Outcomes / Impact

The study has produced novel contributions to the understanding of ‘social licence’ and how it may be measured and potentially fostered in future fuels contexts. The findings have implications for how social licence is understood and framed by researchers, affected industries and stakeholders, and implications for policy and industry-government relations.

This project has also furnished information useful for understanding what drives or influences different stakeholders’ acceptance of the future fuels industry and inferring information about the status of the industry’s social licence and what changes their social licence may be sensitive to (e.g. the gas mix, the location of infrastructure, the cost of energy, the reliability of energy supply, safety outcomes). The case study research probed future fuels contexts such as the factors determining a social licence for gas transmission infrastructure and considered how such factors differ across diverse industry contexts.

Partners University of Adelaide
Research Contact

Dr Stephen McGrail

Research and Education Program Coordinator