P44 SIG Governing and Managing Hybridity: Between Promises and Pitfalls

Corresponding chair

Jarmo Vakkuri, Tampere University. jarmo.vakkuri@tuni.fi

Chair for review group

Jan-Erik Johanson, Tampere University. 

Panel co-chairs

Marieke van Genugten, Radboud University, Nijmegen.

Giuseppe Grossi, Kristianstad University and Nord University.

Philip Marcel Karré, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Mirko Noordegraaf, University of Utrecht.

Ulf Papenfuß, Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen.


Governance forms in-between public and private spheres are becoming more common and influential in society. Likewise, scholarly attention for hybridity, hybrid governance, hybrid organizations, hybrid management, and hybrid professionalism has increased. What all these manifestations of hybridity have in common, is that they mix inherently contradictory institutional logics and value-creation mechanisms. However, current research is not yet successful in theorizing the most important aspects of societal governance: why and how do the distinct forms of ownership and different institutional logics within hybrids sometimes contradict and collide, while they at other times promote societal aims and generate public, market and social value, via collaborative designs and practices.

The aim of this SIG is to join researchers from traditionally separate areas of study to have an open debate on governing and managing hybridity in society, aimed at dealing with complex societal issues. This panel investigates the relationships, balance, potential rationalities, and complications among public, private, and civic domains contributing to societal outcomes. While all these domains play a role in how intended social aims transpire, it is still not clear why, how, and to what effect this occurs. Hybrids, hybrid governance and hybridity appear in many forms (Johanson & Vakkuri 2017; Koppenjan, Karré & Termeer, 2019; Billis & Rochester, 2020; Brandsen & Karré, 2021; Vakkuri et al. 2021; Besharov & Mitzinneck, 2021). For instance, universities, health care and welfare organizations, non-profits, social enterprises, municipal corporations, and state-owned enterprises are regarded as types of hybrid organizations. They all must reconcile different and often conflicting institutional logics in order to be financially, socially and ecologically sustainable. In addition, one can see hybrids at micro, meso and macro levels of societal activity, consisting of networks between business firms, public agencies, and other organizations. Circular economy initiatives, national innovation systems and global air travel showcase such hybrid governance arrangements.

Hybridity comes with promises: it may be the strength of all these arrangements, as it stimulates innovation and synergies. It is also the biggest potential pitfall, as it can lead to excessive ambiguity, accountability problems, insecurities, and value clashes. This makes hybridity and its effects an important field of research, as public service provision in a complex world is increasingly taking place within hybrid governance constellations. Pandemics, migration, inequality, and changes in global security demonstrate the urgent need for understanding boundary-crossing activities between public, private, and civic action. Accordingly, the analytical scripts based on which we understand the public-private-civil society links in maintaining health, welfare, safety, and social inclusion may be significantly influenced by the current developments of public policies.

Hybrids are equipped to satisfy business aims, and public policy goals simultaneously. In performance measurement, hybrids can apply multiple yardsticks in the evaluation of their activities. Furthermore, hybrids need to pay attention to several, often contrasting principles in balancing their goals, acquiring resources from multiple sources and legitimizing the value of their activities to customers, citizens and stakeholder groups.

This SIG panel aims to facilitate important research discussion in the public management community, as hybrid arrangements are ill understood, poorly classified and difficult to evaluate. We seek conceptual, theoretical, and empirical papers assessing the developments of hybrid arrangements. We also encourage novel inter-disciplinary perspectives to understanding hybridity in different contexts of institutions and organizations, but also policies, management, evaluation, and accounting (for more details, see https://www.irspm.org/interest-groups/governing-managing-hybridity). The topics of the papers may be associated with, but are not limited to the following:

  • Shared ownership between public and private owners in different settings.
  • Governance and accountability of different types of hybrid organizations, such as state-owned enterprises (SOE), quasi non-governmental organizations (quangos) and social enterprises.
  • Impact of hybridity on strategies, performance management and value conflicts of service delivery systems.
  • Goal incongruence and other effects of mixing different institutional logics in the same organization or in a larger network.
  • Variety in the sources of funding for societally important activities
  • Current forms of crisis and turbulence shaping the role and identity of hybrid governance and organizations.
  • Changing relationships between public policies and agencies, business firms and civic organizations in responding to global policy challenges.
  • The role of public managers, and other professionals in creating understanding on hybridity and hybrid governance.
  • Collaborative forms of governance as responses to deal with the problems of institutional hybridity.
  • Financial and social forms of control in the hybridized service delivery such as new regulatory practices and developments in co-regulation.