Neil Gunningham, Social License and Environmental Protection: Why Businesses Go beyond Compliance, 29 Law & Soc. Inquiry 307 (2004)
This article examines the concept of the corporate "social license," which governs the extent to which a corporation is constrained to meet societal expectations & avoid activities that societies (or influential elements within them) deem unacceptable, whether or not those expectations are embodied in law. It examines the social license empirically, as it relates to one social problem -- environmental protection -- & as it relates to one particular industry: pulp & paper manufacturing. It shows why the social license is important, the circumstances in which it may encourage companies to go "beyond compliance" with regulation, how its terms are monitored & enforced, & how it interacts with what we term the regulatory & economic licenses. Overall, this research demonstrates that corporate environmental behavior cannot be explained purely in terms of instrumental threats & moral obligations to comply with the law, & that the increasing incidence of "beyond compliance" corporate behavior can be better explained in terms of the interplay between social pressures & economic constraints. 2 Tables, 40 References. Adapted from the source document.