The 1st IESE-LUISS Conference on Responsibility, Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship

The 1st IESE-LUISS Conference on Responsibility, Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship

Hybrid Organizations:
Walking at the Edge
Between Economic Performance
and Social & Environmental Impact

Rome, April 18-19, 2017


In the recent past, the development of the global economic system has offered few solutions to many long-lasting problems affecting our societies. Poverty or exclusion in the social sphere and climate change or water shortage in the environmental sphere are just some of the most visible examples.

In such a context, hybrid organizations have begun to play a crucial role. On the borderline between economic performance and social and environmental impact, hybrid organizations try to respond to social and environmental problems by applying market mechanisms (Ebrahim et al., 2014).

In many cases, hybrid organizations have been able to produce novel and sustainable solutions. In all cases, they have had to face the challenge of merging two different worlds. Pursuing a positive and substantial social and environmental impact may likely lead to actions inconsistent with profit maximization, and vice versa. Organizations that try to reach both economic and social/environmental aims at the same time are thus likely to suffer from strains and tensions that may even lead to failure. Hybrid organizations need to design and manage their business models, strategies, and relationships to maintain their consistency in the face of the tensions between their identities, the conflicting logics they respond to and the practices they implement (Battilana & Lee, 2014).

We are interested in fostering research in the area of hybrid organizations, focusing precisely on the ways these organizations generate, preserve and expand their hybridity. In this respect, some hybrid organizations tend to compartmentalize the two conflicting identities or logics, while others balance between the diverging elements of the two camps (Pratt & Foreman, 2000; Pache & Santos, 2010), for example selectively choosing which elements of each logic to follow (Pache & Santos, 2013). The most recent literature has focused on strategies integrating conflicting logics (Battilana & Lee, 2014), organizational practices (Lee, 2014) or processes (Jay, 2013). In all these cases the hybrid nature of the organization is implemented and sustained through original business models (Santos et al., 2015), new organizational arrangements and governance (Mair et al., 2015) and novel strategies (Hockerts, 2015).

This conference, possibly the first of a series, is aimed at gathering scholars from different literature streams interested in highlighting the mechanisms through which hybridity is created and sustained. To give more substance to the debate we asked key scholars in the field –among them Johanna Mair, Anne Claire PacheGuido Palazzo, Tommaso Ramus and Ute Stephan, who already accepted our invitation- to join us and present their work. To give more visibility to the research discussed at the conference, we proposed to the Journal of Business Ethics, one of the leading journals in the field, to create a Thematic Symposium on these themes linked to the conference.

The conference is aimed at creating a space where the community of scholars conducting research on these themes can meet, reinforce ties and create new ones, discuss ideas and receive feedback. For this reason, each paper will be allocated a large slot for presentation and Q&A. Moreover, in each parallel session a discussant ‒asked to read the papers in advance‒ will give feedback on the presented papers. We also highly value the presence of young scholars, and have designed the conference to maximize the number of opportunities they can use to interact and develop their research. During the conference, a Ph.D. and Early Career Symposium will take place, where PhD students and scholars in their early career will be able to present and discuss their work with expert scholars in the field.


Battilana, J., & M. Lee (2014), “Advancing research on hybrid organizing–Insights from the study of social enterprises”, The Academy of Management Annals, 8(1), pp. 397-441.

Ebrahim, A., Battilana, J., & J. Mair (2014), “The governance of social enterprises: Mission drift and accountability challenges in hybrid organizations”, Research in Organizational Behavior, 34, pp. 81–100.

Hockerts, K. (2015), “How Hybrid Organizations Turn Antagonistic Assets into Complementarities”, California Management Review, 57(3), pp. 83-106.

Jay, J. (2013), “Navigating paradox as a mechanism of change and innovation in hybrid organizations”, Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), pp. 137-159.

Lee, M. (2014), “Mission and Markets? The Viability of Hybrid Social Ventures”. In Academy of Management Proceedings, Vol. 2014, p. 13958.

Mair, J., Mayer, J., & E. Lutz (2015), “Navigating Institutional Plurality: Organizational Governance in Hybrid Organizations”, Organization Studies, 36(6), pp. 713-739.

Pache, A. C., & F. Santos (2010), “When worlds collide: The internal dynamics of organizational responses to conflicting institutional demands”, Academy of Management Review, 35(3), pp. 455-476.

Pache, A. C., & F. Santos (2013), “Inside the hybrid organization: Selective coupling as a response to competing institutional logics”, Academy of Management Journal, 56(4), pp. 972-1001.

Pratt, M. G., & P. O. Foreman (2000), “Classifying managerial responses to multiple organizational identities”, Academy of Management Review, 25(1), pp. 18-42.

Ramus, T., & A. Vaccaro (2014), “Stakeholders Matter: How Social Enterprises Address Mission Drift”, Journal of Business Ethics, pp. 1-16.

Santos, F., Pache, A.M., & C. Birkholz (2015), “Making Hybrids Work: Aligning Business Models and Organizational Design for Social Enterprises”, California Management Review, 57(3), pp. 36–58.

Vaccaro, A. Palazzo, G. (2015),  “Values against Violence: Institutional Change in Societies dominated by organized crime”, Academy of Management Journal, 58(4), pp1075-1101. 


The ERShub at LUISS

Viale Romania 32,
00198, Rome (IT)