Platform Cooperativism Resource Library


An analysis of the entrepreneurial institutional ecosystems supporting the development of hybrid organizations: The development of cooperatives in the U.S.


Hybrid institutions share features common to other ideal type organizations, but serve as an important focus of innovation, often combining features of charity, public service, and business. Where they exist, hybrid organizations are abundant, playing crucial roles in the management and governance of public goods and common pool resources. This is particularly true in the cooperative business sector, the United States (U.S.) in particular. U.S. cooperatives comprise a significant share of the agriculture, electricity, telecom, and consumer finance sectors. Yet the entrepreneurial support systems catalyzing U.S. cooperatives remains under-studied. This paper undertakes two case studies to present widely divergent forms of entrepreneurship: the institutional entrepreneurial support system of the electric cooperative sector, and; the broker’s entrepreneurial role in starting The Veterinary Cooperative in support of independent veterinary clinics. The cases find that with proper support systems and actors, hybrids can not only flourish, but also provide for significant impacts with their stakeholders, as well as the broader market context. This demonstrates a need for incorporating institutional diversity vis-à-vis hybrids in environmental management, as well as the provision of the support for their growth


Hybrid organizations are abundant, but their contributions to the management and governance of quasi-public goods are understudied despite their reach into those arenas.

The manner in which hybrid organizations startup -and their systems of entrepreneurial support- are little understood and researched, but addressed here.

One hybrid, the cooperative, is robust in key industries despite little entrepreneurial support, making them a valuable study subject for overcoming these barriers.

Two cases studies of U.S. co-ops provide insights as to how to overcome the gap in support for hybrid entrepreneurship: electric cooperatives; and The Veterinary Cooperative.

The cases demonstrate that with proper support systems and brokers for entrepreneurship, cooperatives and deliver significant economic benefit to their stakeholders.

Added May 21, 2021