A1 Journal article (refereed)
The roles of the state and social licence to operate? Lessons from nuclear waste management in Finland, France, and Sweden (2020)

Lehtonen, M., Kojo, M., Jartti, T., Litmanen, T., & Kari, M. (2020). The roles of the state and social licence to operate? Lessons from nuclear waste management in Finland, France, and Sweden. Energy Research and Social Science, 61, Article 101353. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2019.101353

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Lehtonen, Markku; Kojo, Matti; Jartti, Tuija; Litmanen, Tapio; Kari, Mika

Journal or series: Energy Research and Social Science

ISSN: 2214-6296

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 61

Article number: 101353

Publisher: Elsevier BV

Publication country: Netherlands

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2019.101353

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/66465


The concept of social licence to operate (SLO) is an increasingly popular tool for companies to manage their relations with the local communities. SLO is very seldom used in the nuclear sector, which has nevertheless applied similar approaches, under notions such as partnership and participatory governance. This article explores the specific challenges that the application of SLO faces in the nuclear waste management (NWM) sector, by applying an often-used SLO framework of Boutilier and Thomson to illustrative case studies concerning nuclear waste repository projects in Finland, France and Sweden. Among the specificities of this sector, the article focuses on the central role of the state in the governance of a project designed as a local solution to a national, even a global problem, entailing extremely long-term challenges, in a context when the state has a vested interest in the project obtaining an SLO. The article suggests that state-related elements be added to the four key criteria of the Boutilier and Thomson framework, which consists of economic and socio-political legitimacy, and interactional and institutionalised trust. To account for the diversity of settings, such as the ‘high-trust’ contexts of Finland and Sweden and the French ‘society of mistrust’, further analysis and conceptual refinement are needed, especially concerning the multiple dimensions of trust and mistrust, the relationships between legal, political, and social licences, and the specific challenges of intergenerational justice in SLO work.

Keywords: nuclear energy; nuclear waste; waste treatment; public administration; social responsibility; trust; acceptability

Free keywords: nuclear energy; governance; corporate social responsibility; trust; SLO; community acceptance

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2021-25-08 at 12:38