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International Research Symposium:
“Governance and Leadership in Hybrid Organizations”

Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Centre for Social Investment (CSI)
Heidelberg University, December 2011

Bild: Harry Hautumm/ pixelio.de

Bild: Harry Hautumm/ pixelio.de    

Hybrid organizations are entities that straddle the borders between the public and the private, as well as those between the for-profit and non-profit sector, and that often combine characteristics and the logic conventionally attached to the seemingly distinct spheres of the market, the state and of civil society.

From a governance perspective we want to shed some light upon the following questions: Are the governance and leadership issues and challenges, requirements and solutions in hybrid organizations different from those found for standard organizational forms such as business firms, government agencies or non-profit organizations? If so, why is this the case, and which implications does this evoke for theory, policy and practice?

The International Symposium seeks to address these issues at three interrelated levels:

I. the macro context of changing governance structures both nationally and internationally, and their reciprocal effects on hybrid fields and organizations;

II. the meso level of organizational fields characterized by a greater frequency and higher salience of hybridity of organizational forms;

III. the micro level of hybrid organizations themselves, their behavior, leadership patterns, legal obligations and rights of entrepreneurs, managers, board members and other stakeholders entrusted with governance functions.

More specifically, we aim at building a bridge between governance approaches on the one hand, and organizational studies on the other, by combining interdisciplinary perspectives. With an emphasis on the third sector and related organizations, this symposium proposes to tie research on hybridity and governance to a central social science concern:

Changes in the supply and demand conditions for quasi-public goods and services, triggered by social, political and cultural shifts, invite a greater presence of hybrids especially in those fields affected by a reappraisal of the role of the state (education, health, social welfare) or globalization trends (finance, consumer goods).

Could higher frequencies of hybrids in such fields indicate the emergence of future ways of organizing? If this is the case, then a better understanding of their actual and potential governance problems is a matter of immense importance: what will future organizations look like, and how are we to govern and lead them?

The guiding framework for the symposium is therefore built upon related questions like:

  • What are the effects of macro governance changes on hybrid organizations? Why, when and where do hybrid organizations arise? What are their specific governance and leadership problems?
  • How stable and sustainable is hybridity? What are the organizational requirements or recommendations to ensure high quality in hybrid organizations’ outputs?
  • What are the effects of hybrid organizations on macro level governance, how do they affect government control in turn? How can we develop new transparency mechanisms that can be applied across sectors? How can social audits and other forms of social accountability and democratic control be applied to these organizations?

Together we aim at developing a forward-looking research agenda, and thereby to contribute to an informed, proactive discourse about the future of governance and leadership in the light of hybridization.

For further information on the Symposium, please see:
Background Paper


Gorgi Krlev

Centre for Social Investment (CSI)
Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Adenauerplatz 1
69115 Heidelberg

Phone: 06221 - 54 119 -82

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