This paper contributes to the understanding of hybrid organizations by refining the concept of decoupling as a strategic response to conflicting objectives and institutional expectations (Meyer and Rowan in Am J Soc 83:340–363, 1977). In today’s popular responsibility discourse one notes a hopeful “win–win” ideal that invites attempts, by companies in particular, to realize and balance conflicting values and to strive to fulfil both profit objectives and responsibility objectives. Although institutional theory has long acknowledged the strategic response of decoupling in organizational contexts, the potential of exploring and refining how this concept may be used to analyse strategic responses in the contemporary era of market-embedded morality has yet to be explored (Shamir in Econ Soc 37:1–19, 2008). There are good reasons to do so as the present-day discourse on the relation between the economy and morality offers a new set of options and challenges for legitimately responding to institutional demands. This paper draws on an explanatory, rich ethnographic and longitudinal case study of a Swedish fully state-owned company operating in the post 1990s gambling market. We suggest that contemporary hybrid organizations positioned at the crossroads of bureaucratic and market schemes of organizing, may find themselves in a particularly tight spot and seek legitimacy by decoupling—not only by adopting certain legitimizing structures, but also and increasingly with reference to market-embedded morality, a commoditizing of responsibility in their contested market setting. Based on the case findings, we suggest a distinction between organization–based decoupling and market–based decoupling and propose that market-based decoupling may be attractive to hybrid organizations owing to it being less sensitive to scrutiny and accountability claims. But at the same time, our findings indicate that market-based decoupling poses a risk to hybrid organizations, as it does not offer the same degree of legitimacy with key stakeholders/the general public as organization-based decoupling does.
Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
2018. Vol. 22, nr 2, s. 285-313
Decoupling, Market-embedded morality, Hybrid organization, SOE, Gambling market, Sweden, Svenska Spel