Promoting corporate extraterritorial sustainable responsibility through the lens of social licence to operate

Zhao, J. ORCID: 0000-0001-6430-2356, Lu, X. and Lin, W., 2022. Promoting corporate extraterritorial sustainable responsibility through the lens of social licence to operate. Sustainability, 14 (13): 8019. ISSN 2071-1050

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Mandatory corporate extraterritorial responsibilities to promote environmental, social and human rights awareness and recordkeeping have been criticised as green-washing, despite the progressive intent of such attempts. This article conducts an in-depth investigation of extraterritorial responsibility through the lens of the social licence to operate (SLO), using a hybrid methodology involving doctrinal, conceptual, black letter, interdisciplinary and socio-legal sources. We aim to give an overview of decided cases referred to the Supreme Court by the Court of Appeal, in the hope of offering academic groundwork for legalising corporate extraterritorial responsibility in the context of global value chains with the participation of multinational enterprises and various stakeholders, including those in very vulnerable positions in developing or the least developed countries. Previous research on the notion of the SLO has tended to focus on one particular industry, based on the assumption that an SLO is more relevant in corporate social responsibility (CSR)-sensitive sectors. This article will change the focus and aim to answer the question of whether building and maintaining SLOs can help companies to acquire the social legitimacy to fulfil extraterritorial social responsibility. We link the goals, ideals and breadth of SLOs to those of extraterritorial responsibility in order to provide supplementary support for legislators to achieve better compliance and risk management. We conclude that the benefits of seeking an SLO are that they can help to inform progressive extraterritorial legislative attempts, promote board accountability, and mitigate environmental and social risks.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Sustainability
Creators: Zhao, J., Lu, X. and Lin, W.
Publisher: MDPI
Date: 30 June 2022
Volume: 14
Number: 13
ISSN: 2071-1050
Rights: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Law School
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 01 Jul 2022 08:16
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2022 08:16

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