How a new university campus affected people in three villages: the dynamic nature of social licence to operate

Chen Chen, Frank Vanclay*, Terry Van Dijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Social Licence to Operate is a framework for thinking about the relationship between an organisation or project and its host communities and other stakeholders. Key aspects are the extent of acceptability, legitimacy and trust local people accord to the project. A social licence is not necessarily enduring, rather it is dynamic, varying over time. Little research has been conducted into the dynamics of social licence and how it responds to changes in local context. By examining a new university campus, we highlight how all organisations need to consider the dynamic nature of their relationships with host communities. We assessed Wenzhou-Kean University, a partnership between Wenzhou City Government (Zhejiang Province, China), Kean University (a public university in New Jersey USA), and Wenzhou University. Three villages were resettled for the campus, experiencing many social impacts. Although residents initially allocated a high social licence to the project, this varied over time. To maintain and improve an organisation's social licence to operate and grow, having a good understanding of the local context and periodic assessment of social licence are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-10
Number of pages9
JournalImpact Assessment and Project Appraisal
Issue number1
Early online date21-May-2020
Publication statusPublished - 2-Jan-2021


  • corporate social responsibility
  • higher education management
  • Project-induced displacement and resettlement
  • public acceptance
  • social impact assessment
  • social license to operate

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