Sub-theme 27: Hybridity and Beyond: Exploring Alternative Organizational Approaches for Addressing Social Issues

Tommaso Ramus
Católica Lisbon, School of Business & Economics, Portugal
Francesco Rullani
Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy
Marya L. Besharov
Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Papers

In order to address deep-rooted societal challenges such as poverty, environmental degradation, health, and human rights, new forms of organizing are emerging at the intersection of business, charity, and government. Social enterprises and B-corporations pursue social and environmental missions through commercial ventures (Smith et al., 2013; Gehman & Grimes, 2017). Cross-sector partnerships bring together for-profit, non-profit and government organizations (Sharma & Bansal, 2017; Nicholls & Huybrechts, 2016). Traditional for-profit businesses engage in corporate social responsibility efforts (Margolis & Walsh, 2003; Marquis & Quan, 2013), and governments incorporate market-based approaches to improve social welfare (Polzer et al., 2016).
To understand this phenomenon, organizational theorists often draw on the concept of hybridity – the mixing of identities, forms or logics that would conventionally not go together (Battilana et al., 2017; Battilana & Lee, 2014). For example, studies have explored how combining banking and development logics in microfinance organizations can help alleviate poverty in underdeveloped countries (Battilana & Dorado, 2010; Zhao & Wry, 2016) and how mixing elements of non-profit and for-profit forms can yield new approaches to issues such as homelessness (Tracey et al., 2011). Other work examines the role of hybridity in addressing challenges of sustainability (Jay, 2013; York et al., 2016), unemployment and economic opportunity (Smith & Besharov, 2019; Ramus et al., 2017), and medical innovation (Murray, 2010).
Building on the successful sub-themes on hybrid organizations and hybridity organized at the 32nd and 34th EGOS Colloquia, this Call for Papers focuses on how and under what conditions organizational hybridity can generate social impact, contribute to societal transformation, and provide solutions to complex social issues and grand challenges.
Much past work on hybridity has focused on tensions and conflicts of hybridity, both within organizations (Almandoz, 2012; Ashforth & Reingen, 2014; Battilana et al., 2015) and in their interactions with external constituencies and stakeholders (Kodeih & Greenwood, 2015; Pache & Santos, 2013). While we welcome studies that focus on tensions in hybridity, we are particularly interested in work that explores how tensions can become opportunities for innovation (Jay, 2013), market transformation (York et al., 2016), and societal impact (Mongelli et al., 2018). We also welcome studies that set the boundaries of hybridity, either questioning its role as a mechanism to transform societies (Mair et al., 2016; Mongelli & Rullani, 2017), or examining alternative organizing strategies for addressing societal issues and grand challenges (George et al., 2016).
In this spirit, we invite papers from a range of theoretical and methodological approaches with the aim of discussing the role of organizational hybridity in addressing social issues and fostering societal transformation. Questions of interest include the following:

  • From tensions to opportunities: How and under what conditions can different types of tensions that emerge in hybrids be transformed into opportunities for learning, creativity, and innovation? Alternatively, how and under what conditions do these tensions degenerate in detrimental conflict?

  • Metrics and performance: Given their multiple and often competing objectives, how do hybrids measure performance? What role does measurement play in managing internal tensions, gaining legitimacy and resources, and expanding social impact?

  • Hybridity and social impact: What mechanisms, and processes enable hybrid organizations to expand their impact in either scale or scope? What factors inhibit hybrids from scaling up or deepening their scope of impact? Are there trade-offs between scale and scope and how do hybrids manage them?

  • Hybridity and societal transformation: What types of societal issues are hybrids well-suited to address? What institutional infrastructures facilitate or hinder hybrids’ capabilities to induce societal transformation? And what transformational processes might hybridity jeopardize?

  • Hybridity and grand challenges: How does organizational hybridity contribute to addressing grand challenges? What is the role of hybrid individuals, practices, organizations, and fields in fostering more inclusive societies and more sustainable markets?

  • Hybridity and (social) innovation: What organizational arrangements allow hybrids to generate (social) innovation? What factors enable and/or constrain hybrid organizations from exploiting their potential for innovation? When is hybridity not useful for social innovation and change?

  • Beyond hybridity: To what extent is hybridity different in kind from other forms of organizing versus merely differing in degree? How do alternative organizational approaches to addressing social issues differ, both in their design and structure and in their potential for impact?



  • Almandoz, J. (2012): “Arriving at the Starting Line: The Impact of Community and Financial Logics on New Banking Ventures.” Academy of Management Journal, 55 (6), 1381–1406.
  • Ashforth, B.E., & Reingen, P.H. (2014): “Functions of Dysfunction: Managing the Dynamics of an Organizational Duality in a Natural Food Cooperative.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 59 (3), 474–516.
  • Battilana, J., & Dorado, S. (2010): “Building Sustainable Hybrid Organizations: The Case of Commercial Microfinance Organizations.” Academy of Management Journal, 53 (6), 1419–1440.
  • Battilana, J., & Lee, M. (2014): “Advancing Research on Hybrid Organizing – Insights from the Study of Social Enterprises.” Academy of Management Annals, 8 (1), 397–441.
  • Battilana, J., Besharov, M.L., & Mitzinneck, B.C. (2017): “On hybrids and hybrid organizing: A review and roadmap for future research.” In: R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, R. Suddaby & K. Sahlin-Andersson (eds.): The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 132–169.
  • Battilana, J., Sengul, M., Pache, A.-C., & Model, J. (2015): “Harnessing Productive Tensions in Hybrid Organizations: The Case of Work Integration Social Enterprises.” Academy of Management Journal, 58 (6), 1658–1685.
  • Gehman, J., &. Grimes, M. (2017): “Hidden Badge of Honor: How Contextual Distinctiveness Affects Category Promotion among Certified B Corporations.” Academy of Management Journal, 60 (6), 2294–2320.
  • George, G., Howard-Grenville, J., Joshi, A., & Tihanyi, L. (2016): “Understanding and Tackling Societal Grand Challenges through Management Research.” Academy of Management Journal, 59 (6), 1880–1895.
  • Jay, J. (2013): “Navigating Paradox as a Mechanism of Change and Innovation in Hybrid Organizations.” Academy of Management Journal, 56 (1), 137–159.
  • Kodeih, F., & Greenwood, R. (2014): “Responding to Institutional Complexity: The Role of Identity.” Organization Studies, 35 (1), 7–39.
  • Mair, M., Wolf, M., & Seelos, C. (2016): “Scaffolding: A Process of Transforming Patterns of Inequality in Small-Scale Societies.” Academy of Management Journal, 59 (6), 2021–2044.
  • Margolis, J.D., & Walsh, J. (2003): “Misery Loves Companies: Rethinking Social Initiatives by Business.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 48 (2), 268–305.
  • Marquis, C., & Qian, C. (2013): “Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting in China: Symbol or Substance?” Organization Science, 25 (1), 127–148.
  • Mongelli, L., & Rullani, F. (2017): “Inequality and marginalization, business model and social innovation.” Industry and Innovation, 24 (5), 446–467.
  • Mongelli, L., Versari, P., Rullani, F., & Vaccaro, A. (2018): “Made in Carcere: Integral Human Development in Extreme Conditions.” Journal of Business Ethics, 152 (4), 977–995.
  • Murray, F. (2010): “The Oncomouse That Roared: Hybrid Exchange Strategies as a Source of Distinction at the Boundary of Overlapping Institutions.” American Journal of Sociology, 116 (2), 341–388.
  • Nicholls, A., & Huybrechts, B. (2016): “Sustaining Inter-organizational Relationships Across Institutional Logics and Power Asymmetries: The Case of Fair Trade.” Journal of Business Ethics, 135 (4), 699–714.
  • Pache, A.C., & Santos, F. (2013): “Inside the Hybrid Organization: Selective Coupling as a Response to Competing Institutional Logics.” Academy of Management Journal, 56 (4), 972–1001.
  • Polzer, T., Meyer, R.E., Höllerer, M.A., & Seiwald, J. (2016): “Institutional Hybridity in Public Sector Reform: Replacement, Blending, or Layering of Administrative Paradigms.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 48, 69–99.
  • Ramus, T., Vaccaro, A., & Brusoni, S. (2017): “Institutional Complexity in Turbulent Times: Formalization, Collaboration, and the Emergence of Blended Logics.” Academy of Management Journal, 60 (4), 1253–1284.
  • Sharma, G., & Bansal, P. (2017): “Partners for Good: How Business and NGOs Engage the Commercial–Social Paradox.” Organization Studies, 38 (3–4), 341–364.
  • Smith, W.K., & Besharov, M.L. (2019): “Bowing before Dual Gods: How Structured Flexibility Sustains Organizational Hybridity.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 64 (1), 1–44.
  • Smith, W.K., Gonin, M., & Besharov, M.L. (2013): “Managing Social-Business Tensions: A Review and Research Agenda for Social Enterprise.” Business Ethics Quarterly, 23 (3), 407–442.
  • Tracey, P., Phillips, N., & Jarvis, O. (2011): “Bridging Institutional Entrepreneurship and the Creation of New Organizational Forms: A Multilevel Model.” Organization Science, 22 (1), 60–80.
  • York, J.G., Hargrave, T.J., & Pacheco, D.F. (2006): “Converging Winds: Logic Hybridization in the Colorado Wind Energy Field.” Academy of Management Journal, 59 (2), 579–610.
  • Zhao, E., & Wry, T. (2016): “Not All Inequality Is Equal: Deconstructing the Societal Logic of Patriarchy to Understand Microfinance Lending to Women.” Academy of Management Journal, 59 (6), 1994–2020.
Tommaso Ramus is an Assistant Professor at the School of Business & Economics, Católica Lisbon, Portugal. His research focuses on hybrid organizations, institutional pluralism and social enterprises. Tommaso’s publications have appeared in ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Business Ethics Quarterly’, ‘Journal of Business Ethics’, and ‘Voluntas’.
Francesco Rullani is Full Professor at the Department of Management, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy. He previously worked at LUISS University, Italy, and Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. His research on collective knowledge creation, self-organizing innovation, social entrepreneurship, and hybrid organizations appeared in ‘Strategic Management Journal’, ‘Research Policy’, ‘Journal of Business Ethics’, and ‘Industrial and Corporate Change’, among others. For further information, please see:
Marya L. Besharov is Professor of Organisations and Impact at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, UK. She was previously on the faculty of the ILR School at Cornell University, USA. Her research focuses on hybrid organizations such as social enterprises and mission-driven businesses that seek to address deeply rooted societal challenges while also making a financial profit. Marya’s papers have been published in journals such as ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’, ‘Business Ethics Quarterly’, ‘Academy of Management Learning and Education’, ‘Research in Organizational Behavior’, ‘Research in the Sociology of Organizations’, and ‘Industrial and Corporate Change’.