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Hybrid organizations face particular challenges and opportunities due to combining different logics within one organizational structure. While research on hybrid…
Hybrid organizations face particular challenges and opportunities due to combining different logics within one organizational structure. While research on hybrid organizing has advanced considerably our understanding of how these organizations can cope with such tensions, institutional theory suggests that organizational legitimacy and success will also depend on processes that take place at the field level. We connect these two perspectives to examine how field hybridity influences organizational legitimacy. Specifically, we consider both a field’s maturity and its degree of hybridity as two important variables that determine the effects that field hybridity has on organizational legitimacy. Drawing from extant research and leveraging our empirical work in the fields of microfinance, social entrepreneurship and impact investing to provide illustrative examples, we propose a framework that considers both positive and negative effects of field hybridity on organizational legitimacy. We contribute to the literature on hybrid organizing in two ways. First, we show that hybrid organizations face different challenges and opportunities depending on the stage of development and degree of hybridity of the field they operate in. Second, we suggest that the effects of field hybridity on organizational legitimacy can be understood as trade-offs that organizations need to understand and approach strategically to leverage opportunities and mitigate challenges.
Field emergence poses an intriguing problem for institutional theorists. New issue fields often arise at the intersection of different sectors, amidst extant structures of…
Field emergence poses an intriguing problem for institutional theorists. New issue fields often arise at the intersection of different sectors, amidst extant structures of meanings and actors. Such nascent fields are fragmented and lack clear guides for action; making it unclear how they ever coalesce. The authors propose that provisional social structures provide actors with macrosocial presuppositions that shape ongoing field-configuration; bootstrapping the field. The authors explore this empirically in the context of social impact investing in the UK, 2000–2013, a period in which this field moved from clear fragmentation to relative alignment. The authors combine different computational text analysis methods, and data from an extensive field-level study, to uncover meaningful patterns of interaction and structuration. Our results show that across various periods, different types of actors were linked together in discourse through “actor–meaning couplets.” These emergent couplings of actors and meanings provided actors with social cues, or macrofoundations, which guided their local activities. The authors thus theorize a recursive, co-constitutive process: as punctuated moments of interaction generate provisional structures of actor–meaning couplets, which then cue actors as they navigate and constitute the emerging field. Our model re-energizes the core tenets of new structuralism and contributes to current debates about institutional emergence and change.
Recent research develops theory and evidence to understand how organizations come to be seen as “actors” with specified features and properties, a core concern for…
Recent research develops theory and evidence to understand how organizations come to be seen as “actors” with specified features and properties, a core concern for phenomenological institutionalism. The authors use evidence from changes in research designs in the organizational study of institutional logics as an empirical strategy to add fresh evidence to the debates about the institutional construction of organizations as actors. The case is the research literature on the institutional logics perspective, a literature in which organizational and institutional theorists grapple with long-time social theory questions about nature and context of action and more contemporary debates about the dynamics of social orders. With rapid growth since the early 1990s, this research program has elaborated and proliferated in ways meant to advance the study of societal orders, frames, and practices in diverse inter- and intra-organizational contexts. The study identifies two substantive trends over the observation period: A shift in research design from field-level studies to organization-specific contexts, where conflicts are prominent in the organization, and a shift in the conception of logic transitions, originally from one dominant logic to another, then more attention to co-existence or blending of logics. Based on this evidence, the authors identify a typology of four available research genres that mark a changed conception of organizations as actors. The case of institutional logics makes visible the link between research designs and research outcomes, and it provides new evidence for the institutional processes that construct organizational actorhood.