Bridging Benefits and Costs: The Dynamic Approach of Business-Nonprofit Hybrid Organizing

The quest for innovative solutions to public health challenges is an ongoing endeavor. A recent article titled “Business–nonprofit hybrid organizing: a dynamic approach to balancing benefits and costs” published in Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics (Read the full article here) provides an insightful perspective into how businesses and nonprofits can collaborate more effectively. As we unpack the findings and their implications for evaluation practice, let us embark on a journey to understand the synergy of these collaborative efforts.

Understanding the Hybrid Landscape

The article explores hybrid organizations – entities that blend for-profit and nonprofit elements in unconventional ways. They have been recognized for their potential to address complex public health challenges. However, the diversity of these hybrid forms and the balance of their benefits and costs have been less understood, leaving leaders with limited guidance.

The Study: A Closer Look

The research involved a qualitative comparative case study of three business-nonprofit hybrid organizing examples. It included comprehensive interviews and observations, focusing on characterizing the form of hybrid organizing in each case and examining the benefits and costs of different forms for supporting initiatives.

What Are the Forms?

Two distinct collaborative forms were identified: Appended and Blended. Each carries its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the significance of these shifts over time based on strategic priorities and operating environments. This dynamic nature calls for a flexible approach to managing these collaborations.

Appended vs. Blended Forms: A Comparative Insight

  1. Appended Form: Here, a nonprofit unit is embedded within a business, maintaining distinct business- and nonprofit-conforming elements. The approach offers secure funding and credibility through association with the business but may hinder expansion and independence in the long run.
  2. Blended Form: This involves integrating nonprofit and business norms across all units and structures of the organization. It aims for a transformative blend but faces challenges in seamlessly integrating different elements and maintaining legitimacy among stakeholders.

Dynamic Approach: Balancing Trade-offs

The study emphasizes a dynamic view of managing hybrid organizing. It’s not about choosing one form over another but about understanding how to evolve the form based on changing strategic priorities, environmental conditions, and stakeholder perceptions. This perspective allows for a more resilient and adaptable approach to collaboration, ensuring long-term public health goals are met.

Implications for Evaluation Practice

  1. Contextual Sensitivity: Evaluators need to be aware of the changing landscape and adapt their strategies accordingly. Understanding the specific context of each hybrid form is crucial.
  2. Flexibility and Adaptability: As priorities and environments change, evaluators should be prepared to reassess and realign their approaches.
  3. Stakeholder Engagement: Understanding the perceptions and needs of various stakeholders is vital in evaluating and guiding the evolution of these hybrid organizations.

Engaging with the Article: A Call to Deep Dive

The article not only sheds light on an innovative approach to collaboration but also opens doors for further exploration. Readers are encouraged to delve into the original text to grasp the nuances and rich insights it offers. As we seek to foster cross-sector collaboration for public health, understanding these dynamic hybrid forms is a step towards more effective and resilient initiatives.


Business-nonprofit hybrid organizing presents a dynamic and nuanced field of collaboration with the potential to significantly impact public health. A flexible and context-aware approach is key as we navigate these collaborative forms. Let’s continue to explore, evaluate, and optimize these partnerships for a healthier world.