Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration

First Advisor

Stephan Manning,

Second Advisor

Nardia Haig

Third Advisor

Sumit K. Kundu


This dissertation consists of three related essays that seek to understand the core contingencies and strategies of managing social-business hybrids (SBHs) in global contexts. SBHs are also known as hybrid organizations that run commercial operations with the goal of addressing a social (or environmental) problem. I focus on the empirical case of Impact Sourcing Service Providers (ISSPs) which are SBHs that operate in the global business services industry. These organizations hire and train staff from disadvantaged communities to provide services to regional and international business clients. The first essay contributes to the growing interest in how hybrid organizations manage paradoxical social-business tensions. This study identifies two major growth orientations - ‘community-focused’ and ‘client-focused’ growth - their inherent tensions and ways that hybrids manage them. The former favors slow growth and manages tensions through highly-integrated client and community relations; the latter promotes faster growth and manages client and community relations separately. Both growth orientations address social-business tensions in particular ways, but also create latent constraints that manifest when entrepreneurial aspirations conflict with the current growth path. The second essay examines the strategic potential of hybrid business models in the face of Africa’s persistent difficulties with catching up in established markets. Focusing on the global business services industry in Kenya and South Africa and the practice of impact sourcing, this study argues that while regular providers struggle to compete with global peers, hybrid model adopters manage to access underutilized labor pools through community organizations, and target less competitive niche client markets. In this context, critical industry, institutional and firm-level factors affecting hybrid model adoption are identified further. The third essay investigates the variation in business model configurations of SBHs as a function of the background and aspirations of the social entrepreneur, and the level of domestic competition and global client expectations. This study further introduces the concept of liability of embeddedness, which relates to risks and costs facing hybrids targeting business clients outside of the geographic context within which their social mission is highly valued. This study contributes to research on international social ventures and international business, in specifying antecedents and contingencies of targeting international vs. domestic business clients as a social venture.