How a large project was halted by the lack of a social Licence to operate: Testing the applicability of the Thomson and Boutilier model

David Jijelava*, Frank Vanclay

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

Onderzoeksoutput: ArticleAcademicpeer review

47 Citaten (Scopus)
636 Downloads (Pure)


We explore why having a Social Licence to Operate (SLO) is essential for large projects. We analyse the Khudoni Hydroelectric Power Plant in the Svaneti region of Georgia, which was halted in 2013 after much social protest. We assess why the project lacked a SLO and what lessons can be learnt from this experience. Using the Thomson and Boutilier model of SLO as our analytical framework, we elaborate its key elements legitimacy, credibility and trust in the context of dam and hydropower projects and assess where the Khudoni project failed. We conclude that the project lacked legitimacy, with local communities not seeing any social justification for the project. The credibility of the project and proponent was weak amongst the local population, and trust was absent at all phases of the project. We conclude that the concept of social licence to operate has the potential to encourage project proponents to consider and implement activities which will lead to better outcomes for all parties. We believe there is a strong business case for companies to take the concept seriously. Improving social performance will assist projects in gaining a social licence to operate and grow.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)31-40
Aantal pagina's10
TijdschriftEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
StatusPublished - nov.-2018

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