Challenging Hybridity in Social Entrepreneurship: Growing Up from In-Betweeners with Configuration Theory

Best paper, NYU Stern, 12th Annual Social Entrepreneurship Conference, Nov. 4-6 2015, NY

27 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2015 Last revised: 2 Dec 2018

See all articles by Othmar Manfred Lehner

Othmar Manfred Lehner

Hanken School of Economics - Department of Accounting; University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria; Middlesex University of London

Christiana Weber

Leibniz Universität Hannover

Date Written: October 28, 2015

Abstract

Institutional theory considers social enterprises as hybrid organizations balancing two contradicting logics and therefore lacking legitimacy. In this paper we pit ourselves against this predominant denomination and argue that institutional theory may not be the appropriate lens to satisfactorily explain social entrepreneurship. Instead, we suggest to build on configurational theory based on Miller and Mintzberg and to rethink the traditionally narrow understanding of performance by adopting the concept of value blends. We show that from an institutional theory lens SEs are not the result of any inherent “hybridity” but are independent, yet comparable configurational archetypes simply stemming from the logical consequences of an idiosyncratic set of performance goals grounded in a modern interpretation of capitalism based on Porter.

We advance social entrepreneurship literature by demonstrating the institutional theory lens and its notion of “hybridity” as unjustly diminishing and hindering for social entrepreneurship research and practice and by offering explanatory insights from the well-established configuration theory. We further complement configuration theory by illustrating the high configurational similarity between commercial and social enterprises, and by establishing SEs as stable and coherent configurational types into Mintzberg’s classification. Configuration theory in its foundations is then shown to be well equipped to guide inquiries into organizational conditions and developments of SEs.

Keywords: social entrepreneurship, configurational theory, organization, blended value, hybridity

JEL Classification: A13, M13, L21, L33, P17, P47

Suggested Citation

Lehner, Othmar Manfred and Weber, Christiana, Challenging Hybridity in Social Entrepreneurship: Growing Up from In-Betweeners with Configuration Theory (October 28, 2015). Best paper, NYU Stern, 12th Annual Social Entrepreneurship Conference, Nov. 4-6 2015, NY, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2681972

Othmar Manfred Lehner (Contact Author)

Hanken School of Economics - Department of Accounting ( email )

FI-00101 Helsinki
Finland

University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria ( email )

Wehrgrabengasse 1-3
Steyr, Upper Austria 4400
Austria

Middlesex University of London ( email )

The Burroughs
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

Christiana Weber

Leibniz Universität Hannover ( email )

Institut fur Rechnungslegung und WP
Koenigsworther Platz 1
Hannover, 30167
Germany

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