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
Date Written: October 28, 2015
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: Suggested Citation