This chapter examines some of the challenges facing social enterprises and considers these in the light of some of the theory of hybridity presented in Chapter 3 of this volume. Social enterprises provide useful material for this discussion as even the terminology is highly suggestive of mixed approaches. Some accounts have typified them as exemplars of a hybrid form which intertwine within one organization the ‘different components and rationales’ of state, market and civil society (Evers, 2004, p. 8). An examination of social enterprises — considering both the dynamics of their operating environment and the internal organizational tensions they face — could be illuminated by a consideration of some theoretical ideas about hybridity. The policy and funding environment has encouraged the development of social enterprises and has seen them as convenient entrepreneurial vehicles for delivering welfare services formerly managed by the public sector. Meanwhile, practitioners within social enterprises have pointed to the internal organizational challenges of a ‘conflict in culture between “care” and “business”’ within their governance and operations (Social Firms, 2009). This chapter considers to what extent such tensions can be understood by considering them as hybrids which draw on operating principles from different sectors.
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