Published in: Journal of Business Venturing
Cited as: McMullen, Jeffery S., 2018. “Organizational hybrids as biological hybrids: Insights for research on the relationship between social enterprise and the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 575-590.
Using the study of hybridization in evolutionary biology as metaphorical inspiration, I offer a thought experiment about the emergence and proliferation of social enterprise and the influence of hybrid organizing on the entrepreneurial ecosystem. After establishing a number of analogues between biological and organizational hybrids, I analyze the degree to which social enterprise may be indicative of hybrid speciation – i.e., a new organizational form – versus introgressive hybridization – i.e., a variant of a more traditional organizational form. I then use the metaphor to examine whether social enterprise: (1) possesses distinct rules and features, (2) is shaped by or shaping the entrepreneurial ecosystem, (3) still remains a hybrid organization, and (4) might even be considered an invasive species.
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Future research may benefit by going beyond asking how social entrepreneurs combine rules and features of traditional organizational forms to create a social enterprise and instead ask whether the degree or proportion of rules and features imported from each organizational source of inspiration if blended differently, might result in substantially different outcomes.