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Hybrid Agency: Sheltered Workshops (1941–2019)

Organizational Hybridity: Perspectives, Processes, Promises

ISBN: 978-1-83909-355-5, eISBN: 978-1-83909-354-8

Publication date: 7 December 2020


This chapter explores how hybrid organizations navigate the challenges (and opportunities) associated with advancing unconventional logic combinations. It draws from a study of the 180-year history of sheltered workshops in the United States. Sheltered workshops are hybrids that combine social and commercial logics to provide gainful employment to individuals with disabilities. This chapter theorizes a connection between the governance system – that is, country-based social norms and regulatory settlements – framing hybrids and the agency that allows them the discretion required to advance unconventional combinations. It introduces the term hybrid agency to describe this connection and identifies four types: upstream, midstream, downstream, and crosscurrent. Upstream agency draws from the entrepreneurial vision of charismatic founders. It allows hybrids the discretion to advance unconventional logic combinations in unsupportive times, but it also requires them to observe certain dominant cultural norms. Midstream agency draws from hybrids’ adaptation and advocacy skills and resources in periods of historical change. It allows access to resources and legitimacy for unconventional combinations. Downstream agency draws from organizational slack possible in supportive times. Slack eases tensions and tradeoffs between conflicting logics but may also fuel mission drift. Finally, crosscurrent agency also draws from hybrids’ adaptation and advocacy skills and resources. It provides hybrids with the opportunity to grapple with challenges in periods of contestation.



Dorado, S. (2020), "Hybrid Agency: Sheltered Workshops (1941–2019)", Besharov, M.L. and Mitzinneck, B.C. (Ed.) Organizational Hybridity: Perspectives, Processes, Promises (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 69), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 237-270.



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