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Internal and external pressures: How does an organic cotton production network learn to keep its hybrid nature?

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Purpose ‐ This study aims to investigate how an organic cotton production network learns to maintain its hybrid network and its sustainability in the face of internal and external pressures. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A qualitative case study was conducted in Justa Trama, a Brazilian-based organic cotton production network formed by six members with different roles and organisational logics. Findings ‐ The study contributes to the literature on hybrid organisations by suggesting that in the case of networks, a compromise strategy is required at the internal level and a manipulation strategy is required at the external level. The network has to learn how to engineer a compromise among internal members and to enforce change among external institutions to maintain its sustainability. Social implications ‐ The study was performed in Brazil, a country with serious social and environmental problems. The study thus informs managers of social economy organisations on how to deal with internal and external pressures to maintain their organisation's sustainability as well as policy makers on the importance of these alternative organisations and the importance of specific legislation to stimulate this type of initiative. Originality/value ‐ The body of research on how hybrid organisations learn to deal with the mutual influence of internal organisational responses and changes in external institutions is limited. Furthermore, this mutual influence has rarely been studied in the context of networks, in which multiple members have to work together to achieve organisational and network-level objectives as well as to respond to institutional pressures.
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Keywords: Brazil; Communication; Hybrid networks; Institutionalism; Learning organizations; Organizational learning; Sustainability; Sustainable development

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 6, 2012

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