Challenging Hybridity in Social Entrepreneurship: Growing Up from In-Betweeners with Configuration Theory

Othmar M. Lehner, Christiana Weber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingsConference contributionpeer-review


Institutional theory considers social enterprises as hybrid organizations balancing two contradicting logics and therefore lacking legitimacy. In this paper we pit ourselves against this predominant denomination and argue that institutional theory may not be the appropriate lens to satisfactorily explain social entrepreneurship. Instead, we suggest to build on configurational theory based on Miller and Mintzberg and to rethink the traditionally narrow understanding of performance by adopting the concept of value blends. We show that from an institutional theory lens SEs are not the result of any inherent “hybridity” but are independent, yet comparable configurational archetypes simply stemming from the logical consequences of an idiosyncratic set of performance goals grounded in a modern interpretation of capitalism based on Porter. We advance social entrepreneurship literature by demonstrating the institutional theory lens and its notion of “hybridity” as unjustly diminishing and hindering for social entrepreneurship research and practice and by offering explanatory insights from the well-established configuration theory. We further complement configuration theory by illustrating the high configurational similarity between commercial and social enterprises, and by establishing SEs as stable and coherent configurational types into Mintzberg’s classification. Configuration theory in its foundations is then shown to be well equipped to guide inquiries into organizational conditions and developments of SEs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication12th NYU Stern Conference on Social Entrepreneurship Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event12th NYU Stern Conference on Social Entrepreneurship - New York, United States
Duration: 4 Nov 20156 Nov 2015


Conference12th NYU Stern Conference on Social Entrepreneurship
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York
Internet address


  • social entrepreneurship
  • configurational theory
  • organization
  • blended value
  • hybridity


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