Hybrid Models & organizing implications for social entrepreneurship research and beyond

Stream #06

Chairs: Bob Doherty (University of York), Giacomo Ciambotti (Università Cattolica)

At the heart of social enterprise and social innovation is the need to combine commercial and social objectives (Doherty et al. 2014). It is this combination that has been the focus of a growing body of research on hybrid models and organizing (Battilana & Lee, 2014). While much research has focused on the tensions between social and commercial objectives, research has also found that the ability to combine objectives is also a source of opportunity of any social entrepreneur or social innovator (Saebi et al. 2019; Ciambotti & Pedrini, 2019). 

At a time of growing research in this area, this stream of ISIRC conference will explore social enterprises and social innovation in the form of hybrid organizations. Hybrid organizing is also found to be breaking down some of the boundaries between sectors, professions and disciplines. It is the bringing together of different objectives, approaches, norms and logics that defines hybridity (Smith & Besharov, 2019). Given the recent literature reviews on this topic (Battilana et al. 2017; Besharov et al. 2019), there is much to learn about how hybridity is emerging, expanding the nature, challenges and outcomes of hybridity, such as mission drift (Grimes et al. 2019) or the identity-based dynamics of hybrid/social entrepreneurs (Wry & York, 2017). Also, research in social enterprises as hybrids has to deepen the understanding on how hybrids can help to tackle some of the intractable global challenges such as food system restoration, climate change, gender inequality, decent work, and the overall SDGs etc. Papers which investigate such outcomes as social impact, community transformation, economic development, social change etc. are very important for this stream. 

Secondly, research needs to better investigate variations of hybrid organizations and models and in different contexts, especially those that have had less involvement in social enterprise research, particularly those in developing countries. For this reason, we call for research which investigate hybridity and social enterprises in developed and developing countries, such as Africa (Ciambotti et al. 2020), or hybridity and contextual challenges such as Covid-19 (Bacq & Lumkpin, 2020), or hybridity at different levels of analysis (micro, meso and macro-level) (Saebi et al. 2019). Also, variations in forms of hybrids as social enterprises, B Corps, benefit corporations, or other organizational forms.

Third, hybridity has implications throughout the organization shaping models, behaviors and strategies (Battilana & Lee, 2014), with research now needed on how it shapes different stages of an enterprise and different parts of the operations. There are specific issues facing start-ups and those in the early stages, and in relation to the identification of social enterprise opportunities that combine social and commercial objectives (Wry & York, 2017). Also, business models have been demonstrated as useful lens in hybridity (Davies & Doherty, 2019), but more research is required to investigate challenges and opportunities in business model design and innovation in relation to hybridity. There is a need for more understanding of marketing issues, human resource management and innovation strategy that involves the interplay of logics, the micro-processes. We would welcome work on how trade-offs occur and how they are managed, to successfully pursue growth and scaling strategies, coupled with how win-wins are created and managed (Smith & Besharov, 2019; Shepherd & Patzelt, 2020). 

This stream is for people that are interested in questions connected to hybrid models and organizing both in the field of social entrepreneurship, social innovation and beyond. Papers are invited on any element of hybrid research including:

  • Hybrid organisational forms (social enteprises, B Corp, benefit corporations, etc.)
  • How hybrids can tackle global challenges and SDGs
  • Identity of hybrid organizations and social enterprises
  • Opportunity recognition that combines social and commercial 
  • Interplay of logics in social innovation and social entrepreneurship
  • Resolution of conflicting goals and mission drifts
  • Business models of hybrids and social enterprises 
  • Strategies of hybrid organizations and social enterprises
  • Hybridity and contextual challenges (e.g. Covid-19, economic crisis etc.)
  • Hybrid organizations and communities/local contexts
  • Hybrid organizations and social/environmental impacts in developed and developing countries

Hybrid organizations and the institutional context

  • International and cultural differences in hybrid models 
  • Capabilities and skills required within of hybrid organisations 
  • Combining environmental objectives with social and commercial 
  • Hybrids involving cultural objectives 
  • Models of marketing oriented to social and environmental value creation 
  • Learning about hybrid organizing from failure