Neither traditional models of nonprofits nor for-profit businesses have proven adequate in addressing recurring global environmental challenges facing the world. However, there is a growing movement among thought-leaders, industry, governments, and other practitioners that innovative organizations that are focused on environmental sustainability can be more successful in tackling these issues. Such organizations are often called "hybrid" organizations, because they blend traditional organizational structures, business models, leadership, processes, and innovations, but do not neatly fall into the category of a traditional nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, nor a traditional profit-driven company.
However, little practical, case-based research has been conducted into such hybrid organizations. Nascent research is being conducted into nonprofit organizations seeking financial independence – often called social enterprises – and corporations looking to improve their social and environmental reputation – sometimes called corporate social responsibility.
Thus our project will conduct on-the-ground research to develop an understanding of the differentiating aspects of hybrid organizations to identify the challenges they face, the solutions that they generate, and the unique metrics used to measure diverse impacts. Our goal is to create a toolkit of best practices and lessons learned from innovative sustainability-driven organizations that can both be useful information for practitioners in industry, as well as provoke discussion among researchers exploring such high-impact organizations.