Volltext-Downloads (blau) und Frontdoor-Views (grau)
  • search hit 1 of 1
Back to Result List

Cross-sectoral hybridization as a strategy to turn institutional voids into opportunity spaces

  • Organizations that aim at delivering essential goods and services to low-income populations a the base of the pyramid increasingly blend the social welfare and the commercial logics in an effort to create financially sustainable solutions to social problems. Scholars have portrayed these cross-sectoral hybrid organizations as particularly agentic and resilient in institutionally complex settings, highlighting their ability to turn institutional voids into opportunity spaces. At the same time, the reconciliation of two antagonistic goals, namely poverty alleviation and financial value creation, as well as the multiple institutional voids that hybrid organizations face at the base of the pyramid (BoP) expose them to severe tensions. By investigating eight hybrid organizations in four countries, namely Colombia, Mexico, Kenya and South Africa, the present study contributes to a better understanding of cross-sectoral hybrid organizations in BoP settings in two ways. First, it shows that hybrid organizations not only face tensions between sector logics, but also between formal and informal, as well as between “Western-style” and “local style” strategic action fields. In settings which do not effectively provide guidance on the prioritization of social vs. financial objectives, these institutional voids manifest as tensions over goals and tensions over means in hybrid organizations. Second, the study sheds light on how field-level dynamics influence the ability of hybrid organizations to strategically employ factors that spur legitimacy advantages in an effort to turn institutional voids into opportunity spaces. Two different scenarios have been identified. One scenario refers to Colombia, Mexico and Kenya, which have been classified as fields that don’t effectively enforce a dominant sector logic concerning the legitimate way that health services should be provided to low-income populations. The present study has shown that in such fields, an organization’s logic of origin as well as the personal background of founders are factors that may spur legitimacy advantages in hybrid organizations. In effect, organizations which strategically employ these factors can select more freely from competing logics and ultimately overcome the prevailing tensions. This resonates with previous research, which has suggested that in fields with a dominant logic, hybrid organizations may take advantage of legitimacy advantages if their logic of origin corresponds to the dominant logic at the field level (Pache and Santos, 2012). However, the present study suggests that the factors leading to legitimacy advantages are more complex in fields with no effective dominant logic regarding social service provision. Here, the dominant logics among funding organizations, possible legitimacy spill-over effects from other market players, as well as the specifications of the commercial and the social welfare logics become important sources of possible legitimacy advantages. However, the study suggests that an organization’s ability to employ them strategically is dependent on their time of founding and their size. In addition to these findings, the study also provides insights on cross-sectoral hybridization in fields with a weakly enforced dominant logic, which is the second scenario that has been identified in South Africa. In particular, the study suggests that in such settings, hybrid organizations are more restricted to freely draw from competing logics, given that they face effective, normative imperatives about the goals they should pursue. However, the empirical investigation also indicates that an organization’s resource dependence structure is more influential than the encountered normative claims of audiences in health fields at the BoP. Further research is needed to refine these insights and explore cross-sectoral hybridization in social service provision fields in contexts of a weakly enforced dominant logic. Based on these findings, the author derives a range of practical recommendations that may themselves be interpreted as paradoxical. As the empirical study suggests, blended value creating hybrid organizations in Colombia, Mexico and Kenya currently face legitimacy advantages when originating from a commercial origin. The researcher is thus, on the one hand, inclined to recommend them to position themselves as commercially oriented organizations as to take advantage of the legitimacy advantages that the commercial logic currently entails. On the other hand, she cautions actors in the field of blended value creation, particularly funding entities, not to neglect the actual role of nonprofit organizations. The establishment of (health) markets that provide low-income populations in developing and emerging economies with affordable, high-quality products and services is likely to require significant unprofitable efforts. Finally, hybrid organizations in South Africa need to be more careful when adopting structures or practices from the commercial logic given the low legitimacy that this logic has in the health market at the BoP. There, organizations need to thoroughly analyze the institutional claims in the specific context of post-Apartheid South Africa.

Export metadata

Additional Services

Search Google Scholar


Author:Aline Margaux Laucke
Referee:Stephan A. Jansen, Alex Nicholls
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Year of Publication:2017
Date of first Publication:2017/03/29
Publishing Institution:Zeppelin Universität
Granting Institution:Zeppelin Universität
Date of final exam:2017/02/28
Release Date:2017/03/29
Tag:cross-sector hybridity; developing economies; institutional theory; nonprofit organizations; third sector
Page Number:1-331
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt