Toward social enterprise sustainability: The role of digital hybridity

Tong He, Martin J. Liu*, Chee Wei Phang, Jun Luo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


A key insight of social enterprise research has been that the joint pursuit of social outreach and financial sustainability causes social enterprise hybrids to face more constraints in seeking sustainability compared with commercial ventures, and to be vulnerable to changing environmental conditions. In this paper, to enhance social enterprise sustainability, we propose a concept called “digital hybridity” to depict the phenomenon of deploying digital innovation to blend social welfare logics and commercial logics. Through conducting an in-depth case study, we observe how social enterprise sustainability is catalyzed by digital hybridity, and empirically provide a grounded process model, in which we elaborate on three mechanisms and their interactions for underpinning scaling both social impacts and financial incomes over time. Rather than focusing on individual capabilities and workforce composition to embrace tensions arising from hybridity, our evidence provides an alternative technological solution to accounts of sustainability in which digital innovation affords social enterprises the ability to blend the competing institutional logics that they embed internally.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121360
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Case study
  • Digital innovation
  • Digital technology
  • Organizational hybridity
  • Social enterprise
  • Sustainability


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