Let’s talk about problems: Advancing research on hybrid organizing, social enterprises, and institutional context

Johanna Mair, Nikolas Rathert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Social enterprises have long been considered ideal settings for studying hybrid
organizing due to their combination of social and economic goals and activities.
In this chapter, the authors argue that the current research focus on hybrid
organizing foregrounds the paradox, conflicting logics, and multiple identities
associated with the pursuit of multiple goals but underappreciates the relationship between hybrid organizing and its institutional context. Recognizing
that the primary objective of social enterprises is to tackle social problems,
the authors introduce the social problem domain as an analytically useful and
theoretically interesting meso-level to examine the role of context for hybrid
organizing and to advance conversations on hybridity in organizational theory.
Social problem domains offer insights into the political, cultural, and material
differences in how various societies deal with social problems, which in
turn affects hybrid organizing. The authors provide empirical insights derived
from an analysis of social enterprises across three countries and social problem
domains. The authors show how the institutional arrangements of social enterprises differ considerably across contexts, and how these arrangements affect how social enterprises become more or less similar compared to traditional ways of organizing in these problem domains. Based on these findings, the authors outline a research agenda on social enterprises that focuses on examining the nature, antecedents, and outcomes of hybrid organizing around social problems across multiple levels of analysis. With this chapter, the authors move the focus of social enterprise research in organizational theory from studying how these organizations cope with multiple logics and goals toward studying how they engage in markets for public purpose.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch in the sociology of organizations
Subtitle of host publicationOrganizational hybridity: Perspectives, processes, promises
EditorsM.L. Besharov, B.C. Mitzinneck
PublisherEmerald Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-83909-354-8
ISBN (Print)978-1-83909-355-5
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Organizations


  • Social enterprises
  • hybrid organizing
  • isomorphism
  • institutional context


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