Defining hybridity and hybrid contingencies in public organizations: An alternative conceptual model

Lode De Waele, Liselore Berghman, Paul Matthyssens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientific


The discussion about public sector performance is still present today, despite the profound research that has already tried to address this subject. Furthermore, theory links negative effects on organizational performance with increased levels of organizational complexity. However, literature thus far did not succeed to put forward a successful theory that explains why and how public organizations became increasingly complex. To answer this question, we argue that increased organizational complexity can be explained by viewing public organizations as the hybrid result of different institutional logics, which are shaped by various management views. However, former research mainly concentrated on the separate study of management views such as traditional public management (TPM), NPM, and post-NPM. Although appealing, research that approaches hybridity from this perspective is fairly limited.

We conducted a literature review in which we studied 80 articles about traditional public management, NPM, and post-NPM.

We found that these management views essentially differ on the base of three fault lines, depending on the level of the organizational culture. These fault lines, according to the management view, together result in nine dimensions. By combing dimensions of the different management views, we argue that a public organization becomes hybrid. Furthermore, in line with findings of contingency theory, we explain the level of hybridity might depend on the level of tight coupling for a given organization. Finally, we developed propositions that explain hybridity as the result of isomorphic forces, organizational change, and organizational resistance to change and that link hybridization with processes of selective coupling.

The value of this chapter lies in its real-life applicability.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Contingency, behavioural and evolutionary perspectives on public and nonprofit governance
EditorsLuca Gnan
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78560-429-4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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