Series of Doctoral seminars in social entrepreneurship – Summary for the EJEB (3): Anne-Claire Pache (ESSEC Business School): Social enterprise as a hybrid organization responding to competing institutional logics (25th March)

Doctoral School in Management Sciences, UMons, HEC-ULg & Solvay-ULB Doctoral Seminar in Social Entrepreneurship (2013)

 This seminar held in the spring semester of 2013 aimed to equip doctoral students with theoretical and methodological skills for doing research in the field of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship. The seminar traced social entrepreneurship research back to different approaches in economics, entrepreneurship and organization theory. Based on the critical analysis of theoretical and empirical articles, students got acquainted with several research avenues in the field. They then were asked to locate their own research project regarding the extant literature and to discuss their upcoming research agenda with the teachers and the other students. The 2013 edition was be organized against the background of the 4th EMES Research Conference on Social Enterprise  (Liege, 1-4 July 2013). As a way to share these efforts with the PhD community, the EJEB is launching a summary of each of the sessions included in this seminar. Each summary was written by PhDs participating in the Seminar.

Download the program of the Seminar here



In the framework of the doctoral seminar in social entrepreneurship organized at the University of Liège by Benjamin Huybrechts and Sybille Mertens, the 4th session, which took place on March 25, dealt with how institutional theory may be used in social entrepreneurship research. Anne-Claire Pache, from ESSEC Business School, was invited to present one of her recent paper which will be published in the Academy of Management Journal: Inside the Hybrid Organization: Selective Coupling as a Response to Competing Institutional Logics, which she wrote with Filipe Santos. Anne-Claire Pache began her career as a social entrepreneur before doing her PhD. The starting point of her research was the gaining prevalence of hybrid organisations in modern societies, which she already found striking while working as a social entrepreneur. Therefore, the aim of the presented paper was to look at the internal dynamics of hybrid organisations and examine how they deal with the tensions they face arising from conflicting institutional logics. The presentation was composed of three parts: theoretical introduction, description of methods and results of the research, and discussion of findings.

The first part was based on summarizing the available knowledge about hybrid organisations and how they can manage tensions from conflicting institutional logics. The authors identify three main strategies: decoupling, compromising (taking into consideration elements from both logics and alter them), and combining (including elements from both logics without altering them). Two main research questions were defined in the following way:

“RQ1: How do hybrid organizations that incorporate competing institutional logics deal with these logics at the intra-organizational level?

RQ2: What determines the strategies through which hybrid organizations incorporate competing institutional logics?” [Pache AC. & Santos F. (forthcoming) pp. 10-11]

Anne-Claire Pache developed the methods part in details in order to provide us with practical insights regarding our own research. For this paper, four comparative case studies were conducted “à la Eisenhardt” in the WISE sector. Anne-Claire Pache explained very carefully the research attitude and she clarified all data analysis’ stages, indicating how the methods part of the paper had evolved throughout the review process. Furthermore, she focused also on the data collection process and on the comparison of results from different groups of examinees.

The third part of the presentation was devoted to the research findings. Hybrid organisations, which face permanent conflicting logics, tend to adopt a strategy of selective coupling – this is, they adopt a combination of practices originating in different logics. Furthermore, the origin of the organisation does matter in the way the hybrid organisations couple selectively. Hence, Anne-Claire Pache proposed the Trojan Horse approach because WISEs originating from a commercial logic tended to adopt relatively more practices from the social-welfare logic and inversely. As an avenue for future research, she stated that the individual level was underexplored with regard to conflicting logics, among others through an exploration how leaders of hybrid organisations have been socialised into one or several institutional logics.

In the last part of the doctoral seminar Amélie Mernier, Gildas Gagne and Frédéric Dufays presented the theoretical positioning of Pache and Santos’ paper in the broader perspective of new institutional theory and presented a few empirical applications of the institutional logics approach to social entrepreneurship (e.g. microfinance and social investment). Finally, they moderated the discussion session. A debate was initiated on the role of the State regarding the so-called Trojan Horse approach. Another participative discussion was launched on the use of institutional logics in PhD-students’ own field of research (e.g. foundations and philanthropy).

édéric Dufays is a PhD-student at the Centre for Social Economy of HEC-ULg Management School in Liege (Belgium). His research interests are social entrepreneurship, collective entrepreneurship, social network, and institutional theory.





Aleksandra_Szyma?skaAleksandra Szymanska is a PhD student and a doctoral researcher at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) in the Faculty of Economic, Social, and Political Sciences and Solvay Business School; Department of Applied Economics. Her research interests are social enterprises, microfinance, corporate finance, risk management, financial engineering and econometrics.



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