Competing for Good: How Organizational Hybridity Challenges Inter-Organizational Categorization and Cross-Sector Value Creation



The process of inter-organizational categorization, whereby leaders produce mental models regarding collaborative opportunities and competitive threats, can enable or challenge cross-sector value creation. Through a qualitative study of 46 leaders in the second-hand textiles market, we illustrate how and under what conditions organizational hybridity leads decision makers to engage in morally-sharpened categorization and thus more highly politicized responses toward other market actors. Our findings and model extend theory regarding cross-sector collaboration, illustrating that such collaboration can be undermined by categorization practices that compel efforts to control and reshape collective identities. Moreover, they extend research at the intersection of institutions and categories by revealing how settings characterized by multiple institutional logics and hybrid organizations can lead to divergent applications of the categorical imperative.