Chapter 2: Hybrid organisations: between state and market
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Hybrid organisations are defined by the mixing of different and inherently contradictory characteristics. Their hybridity makes them contested phenomena. While their proponents claim that they can combine the best of different worlds – in the words of the United Kingdom (UK) periodical The Economist, ‘the security of the public sector and the derring-do of the private sector’ – their adversaries claim that they only combine the worst. Hybridity, the more critical voices warn, leads to ‘inherently confused organisations, buffeted by all sorts of contradictory pressures. This means that their internal operations can be hard to understand and their behaviour may be hard to predict’ (The Economist, 2009). This contradiction and contention is perhaps most severe where state and market meet each other and organisations have to combine the characteristics of the public and the private sector in the provision of public goods and services. It is those public?private hybrids that are looked at in this chapter. In the model developed by Billis (2010b, p. 57) they inhabit ‘zone three’, where the public and the private sector overlap.

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