Social license to operate and non-technical – or ‘sustainability’ – performance are not simply philanthropy. Rather, they are multi-dimensional and intrinsically linked to the market value of upstream oil and gas projects. Corporations stand to protect billions of dollars of value by gaining a full understanding of the business case underlying the need for comprehensive strategies to manage and build long-term social license to operate.

Although non-technical performance has often been perceived as a sideline to strategic business-planning and capital investment decision making it is typically the root cause of approximately 80% of major capital project delays – in developed and developing countries alike. In the increasingly high stakes ‘new operating environment’ corporations have a significant market opportunity to benefit from making enterprise and project-level decisions based on a more informed and disciplined balancing of social, environmental, and economic dynamics.

This paper examines how to improve non-technical performance by exploring:

  • The link between a corporation’s social license to operate and real market value in major capital projects;

  • How corporations can garner competitive advantage through building valuable sustainability value – by rediscovering the links between the so-called ‘triple bottom line’ and the real single bottom line; and

  • Decision-making and implementation frameworks that blend organizational design, change management and executive engagement to move beyond the silos of functional approaches towards full business integration.

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