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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.