Hybrid Challenges in Times of Changing Institutional Conditions: The Rise and Fall of The Natural Step as a Multivocal Bridge Builder

  • Susanna Alexius
  • Staffan Furusten


This chapter reports on a life story of a hybrid organization, The Natural Step (TNS), that was founded in order to foster sustainability in society as a necessary philosophy for saving the planet. The organization was established as a hybrid that blended the logics of science, activism and consulting. Staying in this position was, however, not without challenge. The chapter contributes to discussions on management in hybrid organizations by highlighting when and why hybrids face particular challenges and how managers may struggle to deal with them. Over time, TNS gradually became de-hybridized into a management consultancy. The chapter concludes with a section on dilemmas faced by hybrid managers in cultivating and maintaining a hybrid identity over longer periods of time.


Hybrid identity Cultivating hybridity Bridge building Path generation De-hybridization 


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  1. The nine interviews drawn on in this chapter were conducted in 2013 and are listed below in chronological order, with the informants’ titles at the time of the interview. Each informant was interviewed once.Google Scholar
  2. Interview 1. Founder of TNS. Interview conducted 18 April 2013.Google Scholar
  3. Interview 2. Secretary general of TNS. Interview conducted April 19 2013.Google Scholar
  4. Interview 3. Advisor at TNS. Interview conducted 19 April 2013.Google Scholar
  5. Interview 4. Communication manager at TNS. Interview conducted 22 April 2013.Google Scholar
  6. Interview 5. Advisor at TNS. Interview conducted 22 April 2013.Google Scholar
  7. Interview 6. Advisor at TNS. Interview conducted 29 April 2013.Google Scholar
  8. Interview 7. Advisor at TNS. Interview conducted 13 May 2013.Google Scholar
  9. Interview 8. Advisor at TNS. Interview conducted 13 May 2013.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ScoreStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Stockholm School of EconomicsStockholmSweden

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