Disruptive innovations often originate in novel organizations, contributing potential concepts for bottom-up sustainability transitions. Many markets in recent years have, for example, seen the entrance of new ventures that seek to realize not just economic but also social and/or environmental benefit for their constituents. I study such developments in the German energy and US food industries.
On this page, you will find short descriptions of my published and ongoing research projects related to innovative organizing models for greater social and environmental sustainability. To maintain the integrity of blind peer-review, manuscripts currently under review unfortunately cannot be listed here.
On Hybrids and Hybrid Organizing: A Review and Roadmap for Future Research
In collaboration with Julie Battilana and Marya Besharov, I recently published a synthesis of the extant literature on hybrid organizing in the Sage Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism. We define organizational hybridity as “the mixing of core organizational elements that would not conventionally go together”. We review the varied theoretical lenses that have been leveraged to investigate this growing phenomenon, identify potential for integration, and develop a roadmap for future research. My co-authors and I contribute a framework that summarizes the antecedents, challenges, opportunities, and potential management strategies relevant to hybrid organizing.
Theorizing an Alternative Future: Bioenergy Villages in the German Energy Market
As part of my dissertation research, I study the development of the Bio-Energy Village (BEV) concept in Germany. This social innovation was developed as a novel approach to realizing renewable and locally sourced energy supply in rural areas of Germany. BEVs replace formerly taken-for-granted individual fossil-fuel heating systems by environmentally friendly and socially beneficial biomass powered communal energy generation systems. The BEV idea has been realized in over 130 villages all across Germany by now and
continues to inspire new initiatives. By combining field-level and in-depth case analysis, I unpack the multilevel and dynamic theorization process that has formed the basis for the diffusion of this social innovation. I advance prior research by attending to the contextualization efforts of a multitude of distributed local actors that ensure the resonance of social innovation concepts on the ground and in their aggregate change field-level theorization. I thus contribute new theoretical insights into how social innovations may permeate established markets and morph in this process.
Food Hubs: Reinvigorating Local Food
Recently, I have also begun field work on similar developments in the US food industry. Food Hubs and Food Ports are seeking to change food supply patterns, reinvigorating local and boosting environmentally sustainable supply chains of agricultural produce. They thereby disrupt established patterns of the industrialized food supply system by more directly connecting farmers and end-consumers. Their activities create new consumer segments, cater to previously underserved communities, and (re)establish localized institutional infrastructures for environmentally progressive farmers to market their produce.
I seek to leverage this empirical setting to contribute new insights into processes of resource partitioning triggered by the emergence of hybrid organizing models in an established industry. This rich context may also offer contributions to institutional research by uncovering processes of revival and repurposing of legacy institutions and traditions.