IKnowFood’s PI Professor Bob Doherty, along with Dr Helen Haugh (Cambridge Judge Business School) and Prof Fergus Lyon (Middlesex University) have contributed a chapter on Strategic Management Tension in Hybrid Organisations included in the Handbook on Hybrid Organisation, published on 28 February 2020.
The pursuit of commercial, social and environmental goals makes social enterprise hybrids an ideal setting in which to investigate organisational hybridity. Social enterprise hybrids bridge the public, private and non-profit sectors and are found in a range of industries and locations. They differ from other forms of enterprise as they prioritise the achievement of social and environmental objectives above commercial goals, and they differ from other forms of non-profits as they generate income from trading activity (Doherty et al., 2014; Pache and Santos, 2013; Zahra et al., 2009). Research concerning how social enterprise hybrids are managed, however, is still in its infancy. This chapter explores the strategic management tensions encountered when seeking to balance commercial, social and environmental objectives, and presents a conceptual framework to advance our understanding of the management of social enterprise strategic management tensions. We define strategic management as the fundamental decisions that shape the course of a firm (Eisenhardt and Zbaracki, 1992), and it is of particular interest to leaders of social enterprise hybrids when seeking to scale up impact or scale out delivery (Lyon and Fernandez, 2012; Vickers and Lyon, 2013). There has been a growing societal interest in the scaling of social enterprise hybrids as people search for alternatives to the conventional divisions between public, private and charitable organisations in order to find ways to increase well-being, prosperity and sustainable development (Mair and Mart’, 2006; Ridley-Duff and Bull, 2011). A fundamental element of social enterprise strategic management is the ability to respond to the conflicting demands to achieve commercial, social and environmental objectives.