A Social Enterprise’s Hybridising Journey to Reconcile Goals and Structure with Identity - CLEO Skip to main content


This study highlights how a mismatch between an organisation’s goals and its legal form and structure can develop over time, and how a hybrid model may present a solution. This longitudinal qualitative study details the hybridising process by which a traditional for-profit company transformed into an employee-owned benefit corporation: the company implemented ownership and control models to sustain an identity couched in social and environmental values. The hybrid form reconciled three disparate logics that are core to the company’s identity and which became hardwired into the company’s structure. We identify and develop a novel framework describing four key phases of this firm’s hybridising process (animating, cultivating, advocating, and sustaining), mechanisms therein, and managerial implications. The firm’s progression through these phases was not guaranteed but hinged on the organisation’s specific responses to critical experiences during its hybridising journey. These findings contribute to the theory of organisational hybridising and research on benefit corporations.