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How social entrepreneurs’ attention allocation and ambidextrous behavior enable hybrid organization

Wenzhi Zheng (Business School, Huaqiao University, Quanzhou, China)
James Bronson (University of Wisconsin Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin, USA)
Chunpei Lin (Huaqiao University, Quanzhou, China)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 22 April 2020

Issue publication date: 4 June 2020




This paper aims to explore the social entrepreneurs’ attention allocation and their resource action that lead to hybrid organization using the paradox theory. Paradox theory deepens understandings of the varied nature, dynamics and outcomes of entrepreneurial tensions. This study explores the systematic effects of internal and external attention on both economic and social performance.


First, theoretically, hypotheses linking different attention allocations to ambidextrous behavior and entrepreneurial performance were formulated. Subsequently, the empirical studies based on Chinese social entrepreneurship were conducted to test the hypotheses.


The study provides support to the hypotheses showing that external attention is linked to resource acquisition and social performance, while internal attention is linked to resource acquisition and strategic human resource management and thus these ambidextrous behaviors promote both social and economic performance. Furthermore, normal pressure moderates the relations between internal attention and strategic human resource management only.

Research limitations/implications

The research measures entrepreneurs’ attention with questionnaire rather than psych test. Also, static data rather than longitudinal research is designed to test the hypotheses.

Practical implications

Deeper understanding of the attention of social entrepreneurs and resource action can help entrepreneurial outcomes and can potentially contribute to paradox and tension management by entrepreneurial practitioners in China.


Social entrepreneurs’ different attention allocation and related entrepreneurial ambidextrous behavior processes are linked to paradoxical thinking for the first time. The findings of this research can potentially enhance social entrepreneurship paradoxical thinking aimed at preventing mission drift.



Zheng, W., Bronson, J. and Lin, C. (2020), "How social entrepreneurs’ attention allocation and ambidextrous behavior enable hybrid organization", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 509-528.



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Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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