Theorizing hybridity : institutional logics, complex organizations, and actor identities : the case of nonprofits

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  • American Political Science Association


We propose a novel approach to theorizing hybridity in public and nonprofit organizations. The concept of hybridity is widely used to describe organizational responses to changes in governance, but the literature seldom explains how hybrids arise or what forms they take. Transaction cost and organizational design literatures offer some solutions, but lack a theory of agency. We use the institutional logics approach to theorize hybrids as entities that face a plurality of normative frames. Logics provide symbolic and material elements that structure organizational legitimacy and actor identities. Contradictions between institutional logics offer space for them to be elaborated and creatively reconstructed by situated agents. We propose five types of organizational hybridity - segmented, segregated, assimilated, blended, and blocked. Each type is theoretically derived from empirically observed variations in organizational responses to institutional plurality. We develop propositions to show how our approach to hybridity adds value to academic and policy-maker audiences.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-448
Number of pages16
JournalPublic Administration
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2015