Hybrid organisations have received increased attention within the literature on organisations, strategy, and particular strategy practice. The nature of hybrid organisations poses a variety of strategic questions and this project will provide a contribtuion towards exploring these. Hybrid organisations engage in activities that require them to incorporate different institutional logics (Battilana & Dorado, 2010; Battilana & Lee, 2014), that are both external as well as internal demands on the nature and behaviour of the organisation and individuals within (Pache & Santos, 2013). Hence Billis (2010) describes hybrid organisations as organisations that can simultaneously display characteristics of public organisations, private organisations and/or third sector/non-profit organisations. Social enterprises or microfinance organisations are often put forward as prime examples of hybrid organisations, which have evolved to provide innovative solutions to complex social problems (Battilana & Dorado, 2010; Jay, 2013; Pache & Santos, 2013). Thus far, strategy literature has primarily focused on the hybridisation of public organisations (Joldersma & Winter, 2002; Pache & Santos, 2013), with relatively little insight into strategic management considerations and hybridisation in third sector and/or for-profit organisations. However, the hybridisation of for-profit or third sector organisations requires further study as this often changes the direction organisations take affecting competitive dynamics at the industry level. Thus, gaining a better understanding of strategy and hybridisation is of relevance to managers in the private, public, and third sector.
Institutional logics literature highlights the path dependent nature of strategic decisions (Battilana & Dorado, 2010; Beckmann & Zeyen, 2013; Gawer & Phillips, 2013; Pache & Santos, 2013; Tilcsik, 2010). Further, strategy literature has illustrated that path dependency affects strategy and its implementation (Hutzschenreuter, Pedersen, & Volberda, 2007; Jarzabkowski, 2004; Jessop, 2001). Therefore, this project would contribute to the question of how path dependency shapes hybridisation and strategy in hybrid organisations. It builds on Billis’s (2010) categorisation of hybrid organisations to capture path dependency influences on strategy and strategy practice. Billis (2010) argues that hybrid organisations, in addition to adhering to different institutional logics, can be distinguished along two dichotomous variables; shallow versus entrenched and organic versus enacted. The first consideration Billis (2010) makes is between shallow hybrids, that is organisations with some hybridity such as third sector organisations peripheral engagement in commercial activities, and entrenched hybrids, that is hybrid at either governance level or operational level (for example hospitals). The second consideration is between organic hybrids, that is organisations that over time have become increasingly hybrid (for example, parts of the public service that have been privatised or moved into arms length relationships with the public service), and enacted hybrids, that is organisations which have been established as hybrids from day one (for example micro-finance organisations or social businesses (Billis, 2010)).
Research Aims, Objectives, and Methods
The primary aim of this project is to explore how strategy shapes hybridisation and hybrid organisations. In order to do so the project will address the following objectives:
- refining the classification system of hybrid organisations in light of their strategic choices
- establishing strategic drivers of hybridisation
- determining path dependencies of strategy in hybrid organisations
The project lends itself to be conducted by either taking an international or a more UK focused perspective. In order to capture the path dependent influence on strategy in hybrid organisations the project will primarily require a qualitative approach in order to enable in-depth study. Thus, data will need to be collected via documentation available from organisations, interviews with individuals in participating organisations, and observations of strategy practices in participating organisations. A more detailed data collection strategy will be developed as the project progresses.
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