Public-Private Collaboration, Hybridity and Social Value - a Special Issue

Guest post by Bertrand Quelin

Hybrid forms of collaboration with mixed economic and social interests represent a phenomenon receiving growing attention in organization science and management studies. Now a special issue on "Public-Private Collaboration, Hybrid Organizational Design and Social Value" in the Journal of Management Studies attempts at pushing the research frontier a bit further.

Defined as organizational arrangements at the intersection of public, social and private spheres of economic activity, these new inter-organizational forms bring together actors from governmental, business, and non-profit domains aimed at delivering value beyond the locus of firms and customers to broader sets of stakeholders.

Some forms of collaboration, such as the more traditional contract-based partnerships, attempt to increase efficiency or quality in established public services and infrastructure, e.g. in water, electricity, or transportation. Other forms address some of the world’s most pressing social concerns and unresolved needs, such as poverty and disease eradication, and humanitarian aid provision. They increasingly fall under the realm of multi-actor collaborative arrangements involving socially oriented corporations, social entrepreneurs, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), public bodies and civil society organizations.

From a theoretical perspective, these increasingly commonplace collaborations are recognized as distinct form of hybrid arrangements and raise important questions on their governance, design, and performance. We know from prior studies that public-private, multi-partner and cross-sector arrangements respond to underlying inter-organizational tasks by drawing resources from markets; yet their resources, governance, and output go beyond the market-based exchange.

Owing to their dual market and nonmarket nature, they therefore manifest as different from purely market exchange–based collaborations and alliances in terms of organizational design, underlying strategies, and the nature of ties with the broader environment, institutional actors, key stakeholders, and other social constituents.

Crucially, understanding hybrid forms of collaboration, that span beyond the mere private sector interests, also requires a reconceptualization of organizational performance beyond private economic rents to broader notions of public or social value.

In this Special Issue, we aim to deepen our understanding of how hybrid, public-private and cross-sector forms of collaboration can create social value, and thereby, more broadly, build critical links between previously disparate streams of literature on public-private interactions, cross-sector relations, and socially oriented organizations.

In the head paper, we propose a conceptual typology that builds on dual perspectives on hybridity, and, critically, shows how complex public-private and cross-sector collaborations may blend mixed governance features, as well as potentially different objectives and operating logics. We further argue that the notion of social or public value constitutes a crucial bridging point between these two divergent theoretical approaches to hybridity, and is critical to understanding the impact and outcomes of diverse hybrid arrangements observed. Finally, we identify and discuss a set of key theoretical mechanisms leading to economic and social value in these interorganizational arrangements.

Overall, papers in this Special Issue provide important advances in our understanding of public-private and cross-sector collaboration, and suggest novel opportunities for further theoretical and empirical work on the underlying value creation and sharing mechanisms in these distinct type of hybrid arrangements.

The individual papers in the Special Issue are:

Public-Private Collaboration, Hybridity and Social Value: Towards New Theoretical Perspectives
Bertrand V. Quélin, Ilze Kivleniece and Sergio Lazzarini (Guest Editors)

From Animosity to Affinity: The Interplay of Competing Logics and Interdependence in Cross-Sector Partnerships
Naeem Ashraf, Alireza Ahmadsimab and Jonatan Pinkse

Reconciling Conflicting Policy Objectives in Public Contracting: The Enabling Role of Capabilities Sandro Cabral

Alliances between Firms and Non-profits: A Multiple and Behavioural Agency Approach
M. Rivera-Santos, C. Rufín and U. Wassmer

Understanding Value Creation in Public-Private Partnerships: A Comparative Case Study Elisa Villani, Luciano Greco and Nelson Phillips

Social Value Creation and Relational Coordination in Public-Private Collaborations
Nigel D. Caldwell, Jens K. Roehrich and Gerard George

Social Value Creation in Inter-Organizational Collaborations in the Not-for-Profit Sector – Give and Take from a Dyadic Perspective
Christiana Weber, Kathrin Weidner, Arne Kroeger and James Wallace