Hybrid organization

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A hybrid organization is an organization that mixes elements, value systems and action logics of various sectors of society, i.e. the public sector, the private sector and the voluntary sector. Examples include organizations employed in the provision of public services that were originally established by societal actors, such as (in the European context) most social housing providers, public schools and hospitals. Other examples are public sector organizations that, due to the New Public Management revolution, behave in a more business-like way and organizations as the state-owned enterprise that also compete on the market place. In the context of corporate social entrepreneurship, Hemingway (2013a) also referred to hybrid corporations progressing a social agenda, in addition to their profit remit to deliver returns to shareholders.

For example, these might be companies dedicated to the growth of fair trade or environmentally sustainable production, or any of the domains of corporate social responsibility (Hemingway, 2013b). This was based on Hemingway's (2013b) ethnographic study of a British-based multi-national corporation, where corporate social responsibility was found to be practised informally by some employees, in addition to their formal job roles. But in distinguishing between the terms 'social entrepreneurship' and 'corporate social entrepreneurship', she also pointed out that unless a corporate employee has been given dispensation from the profit motive in order to specifically create social value,even the most hybrid of corporations could not be described as a social enterprise staffed by social entrepreneurs (although employees' activities outside of the workplace might be). However, she did find evidence of corporate social entrepreneurship, where some employees had enlarged their own job roles to encompass social responsibility, in one or more forms.

As hybrid organizations combine diverse stakeholder groups, then the potential for conflict within the organization might be greater. This is the challenge of stakeholder management.[1] Any tensions can have positive and negative economic, performance related, cultural and governance related effects for the organization, its principles, and its customers. Purposeful development of hybrid structures and its sustainability may be problematic as it requires ensuring the coexistence of conflicting values. For example, in the area of Open-source software and business collaboration this means both maintaining and spanning boundaries between public and private, open and closed, and contractual worker and professional developer. In result some hybrid organizations get involved in special form of dual hypocrisy, discrepancies between their talks and actions, to fit in business and Open Source realms.

Oliver Williamson (1991) has introduced the concept of a "hybrid form" in transaction cost economics.[2] A hybrid form can be defined as "a set of organizations such that coordination between those organizations takes place by means of the price mechanism and various other coordination mechanisms simultaneously"[3] Examples include franchising, joint ventures, and business groups. Prior to this, Borys and Jemison (1989) introduced "hybrid organizational arrangements", aligning the concept with strategic alliances, R&D partnerships, joint ventures and licensing. The authors reviewed prior research that was available and provided qualitative framework for classification of different types of hybrid organizational arrangements consisting of breadth of purpose, boundary determination, value creation and stability mechanisms. The classification is further used to provide research propositions directing for future studies in organization theory research area, besides looking at specific forms and their research issues.


  1. ^ Freeman, R. Edward (1984). Strategic Management: A stakeholder approach. Boston: Pitman
  2. ^ http://organizationsandmarkets.com/2007/10/08/what-are-hybrid-forms-and-how-can-they-be-modelled/
  3. ^ (Douma & Hein Schreuder, 2013).

Further reading[edit]

  • Albert, S., & Whetten, D. A. (1985). Organizational Identity. Research in Organizational Behavior, 7, 263-295. JAI Press, Inc.
  • Billis, David (2010): Hybrid Organizations and the Third Sector, Palgrave Macmillan
  • Bryan Borys and David B. Jemison (1989): Hybrid Arrangements as Strategic Alliances: Theoretical Issues in Organizational Combinations, Academy of Management Review, April 1, 1989 vol. 14 no. 2 234-249
  • Ciesielska, Malgorzata (2010) Hybrid Organisations. A study of the Open Source – business setting. Copenhagen Business School Press http://openarchive.cbs.dk/bitstream/handle/10398/8200/Malgorzata_Ciesielska.pdf?sequence=1
  • Douma, Sytse & Hein Schreuder (2013): "Economic Approaches to Organizations", 5th edition, London: Pearson
  • Hatch, Mary Jo & Anne Cunliffe (2006): Organization Theory: Modern, Symbolic, and Postmodern Perspectives, Oxford University Press
  • Hemingway, C.A. (2013a): Corporate Social Entrepreneurship. In Idowu, S.O., Capaldi, N., Zu, L. and Das Gupta, A. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Corporate Social Responsibility, Volume 1. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 546–553.
  • Hemingway, C.A. (2013b), Corporate Social Entrepreneurship: Integrity Within. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-44719-6.
  • Karré, Philip Marcel (2011): Heads and Tails: Both Sides of the Coin. An Analysis of Hybrid Organizations in the Dutch Waste Management Sector, Eleven International Publishing
  • Koppell, Jonathan (2003): The Politics of Quasi-Government, Cambridge University Press
  • Rainey, Hal G. (1996): Understanding and Managing Public Organizations, 2nd ed., Jossey-Bass
  • Williamson, Oliver E. (1991): "Comparative Economic Organization: The Analysis of Discrete Structural Alternatives", Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 36, no 2.

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