Management Organizational Hybridity
Björn C. Mitzinneck, Angela Greco
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 July 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0204


In many ways, research on organizational hybridity seeks to understand how some organizations mix together elements analytically considered opposed to or in tension with one another. Scholars of organizational hybridity have studied how such unconventional mixing of organizational elements is possible, how this impacts organizational functioning, and how it shapes organizational relations to various internal and external stakeholders. Since the mid-1980s, organizational scholars have used a range of theoretical lenses to shed light on these overarching questions posed by organizational hybridity. Each lens with its unique conceptual tools and assumptions has focused on distinct, yet often connected, aspects of organizational hybridity. For example, organizational forms research has emphasized questions concerning the emergence of hybrid organizations. Identity and institutional logics research has focused on tensions between the distinct elements of hybrids. Categories research has primarily investigated external evaluations of hybridity. Publication activity within different theoretical lenses has varied over time. While much work on organizational hybridity early on used organizational form lenses, more work from an identity perspective followed, and recently institutional logics has offered a much-used meta-theory in hybridity research. Along with the waxing and waning popularity of theoretical lenses over time, a shift has occurred from primarily considering hybrid organizations to attending to hybrid organizing. That is, while early work conceived of organizational hybridity as a matter of type (effectively suggesting differences between hybrids and nonhybrids), more recent work understands hybridity as a matter of degree (some organizations have more while others have less hybrid characteristics). Notwithstanding some cross-fertilization between theoretical lenses and overlaps, different streams of hybridity research have developed in parallel. As such, organizational hybridity as a concept has been (and continues to be) used in different ways in the literature. The aim here is to offer useful resources to navigate the burgeoning literature on organizational hybridity. While necessarily painting the literature with a broad brush, this article offers brief introductions to specific research streams. It lists key references in each section that will allow readers to further pursue each stream. Although varied empirical contexts and theories have been and continue to be pertinent to organizational hybridity research, work on social enterprise and from institutional theory lenses has been particularly vibrant in the recent expansion of the field. This article acknowledges and follows this trend in the literature.

Introductory Works on Organizational Hybridity

Research on organizational hybridity has developed since the 1980s, with accelerated expansion in the past ten to fifteen years. In this section, we highlight useful overviews of this burgeoning literature. We also discuss some of the diverse origins and distinct uses of hybridity as a concept in management research. Rather than having converged over time, these have given rise to varied literature streams.

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