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Title: The state of social impact indicators: measurement without meaning?
Contributor(s): Shepheard, Mark  (author)orcid ; Martin, Paul  (author)
Publication Date: 2011
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Abstract: "... Positive community functioning relies on the underlying beliefs people hold about obligation, reciprocity and philanthropy, on the prevalence in the community of attitudes such as trust, in other people and in community infrastructures, and on the extent to which individuals and groups participate in the community. Such factors can be difficult to measure but are important precursors to wellbeing at a societal level ..." (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001). The social licence questions for irrigators can be summarised as: 'how do we demonstrate that we are maximising the social gains, minimising the social costs, and reducing the social risks associated with the private use of community assets such as water?' The issues of social licence are relatively new. As a result, the approach to answering this question is as yet immature (Martin et al. 2007). It can be expected that there will be confusion, competing models and a complex process of evolution before the paradigm is settled and industry and the community has an accepted efficient framework (Christen et al. 2006; Shepheard and Martin 2009). Nowhere is this more evident than in the evolution of triple bottom line reporting. This chapter looks at recent approaches to, and proposals for, social impact indicators and suggests some directions for social impact reporting for water enterprises. The opening quote indicates that social performance reflects the contributions made by the private organisation to social systems (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001). In any open system such as a society, there is a plethora of interconnections and impacts in varying degrees of proximity to any action. Cause, effect and responsibility are often unclear. Specific methods are needed to define the things managers can be expected to be accountable for (Shepheard and Martin 2008). Without this, the manager faces uncertainty and boundary-less demands on resources. Once it is clear what accountabilities the manager is expected and prepared to undertake, it becomes possible to find indicators against which performance can be reported. As yet there is no accepted mechanism for defining the boundaries of social responsibility of an enterprise. This results in the absence of logical mechanisms for determining which measures are likely to be useful and efficient (Shepheard and Martin 2008). The following review of the state of social impact indicators (focusing on irrigation in Australia) illustrates this problem. The review synthesised the social impact indicators used by a range of irrigation authorities (see Table 12.3), and studies dealing with social impact indicators in natural resource management (identified in Table 12.7).
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Defending the Social Licence of Farming: Issues, Challenges and New Directions for Agriculture, p. 127-142
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Collingwood, Australia
ISBN: 9780643101593
Field of Research (FOR): 180111 Environmental and Natural Resources Law
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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