Understanding the Diverse Scaling Strategies of Social Enterprises as Hybrid Organizations: The Case of Renewable Energy Cooperatives

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Abstract

This article seeks to shed light on the diversity of scaling strategies of social enterprises, which can be considered as emblematic hybrid organizations. By comparing three Flemish renewable energy cooperatives with contrasted scaling strategies, the article shows how these strategies can be understood in relation to the organizational mission as imprinted at the founding. We extend the notion of hybridity beyond the combination of institutional logics to highlight the interest orientation (mutual vs. general interest). Unlike what is suggested in extant literature, we find that mutual interest orientation may be associated with “scale-up,” business growth strategies, while general interest orientation may lead to less growth-focused “scale-out” and “scale-deep” strategies. The findings illuminate aspects of the hybrid nature of social enterprises by explaining their diverse scaling strategies and extend the notion of imprinting to the interorganizational level by highlighting how social enterprises may collaborate to collectively achieve the pursuit of their multiple missions.

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Bauwens, T., Huybrechts, B., & Dufays, F. (2020). Understanding the Diverse Scaling Strategies of Social Enterprises as Hybrid Organizations: The Case of Renewable Energy Cooperatives. Organization and Environment, 33(2), 195–219. https://doi.org/10.1177/1086026619837126

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