Handbook on Hybrid Organisations
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Handbook on Hybrid Organisations

Edited by David Billis and Colin Rochester

Hybrid Organisations – that integrate competing organisational principles – have become a preferred means of tackling the complexity of today's societal problems. One familiar set of examples are organisations that combine significant features from market, public and third sector organisations. Many different groundbreaking approaches to hybridity are contained in this Handbook, which brings together a collection of empirical studies from an international body of scholars. The chapters analyse and theorise the position of hybrid organisations and have important implications for theory, practice and policy in a context of proliferating hybrid forms of organisation.
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Chapter 3: Hybridity in public organisations

Nicolette van Gestel, Jean-Louis Denis and Ewan Ferlie


Recent special editions of the International Review of Administrative Sciences (Emery and Giauque, 2014) and Public Administration (Van Gestel et al., 2015) have drawn attention to the important issue in contemporary public management and the non-profit sector of dealing with the growth of hybridity (see also Denis et al., 2015; Skelcher and Smith, 2015). Although hybrid public organisations are not entirely novel, pure or ideal-typical public sector forms have been in retreat since the 1980s as the boundaries between the many actors, organisations and sectors now involved in the delivery of public services become increasingly porous (Christiansen and Laegreid, 2011). How, first of all, do we define such hybrid forms? In our view what characterises these hybrid public organisations is a mix of different origins and elements that ‘do not come from one single logic or one single genre’ (Emery and Giauque, 2014, p. 23). Instead, these organisations have to deal with various institutional pressures, often derived from both public and private regimes (Seibel, 2015). Such pressures directing and circumscribing organisational behaviour can be broadly understood as ‘the rules of the game’ (Kraatz and Block, 2008, p. 243). We define (public) organisations as hybrid when they have to play ‘in two or more games at the same time’ (Kraatz and Block, 2008, p. 243), for example balancing different market and hierarchical-based logics of action.

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