Regulation As a Force for Hybrid Organization: Evidence from the Bonneville Power Administration (1980-2012)

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Accounting Auditing & Accountability Journal

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This case study highlights state-logic influence on hybrid organizations and institutionally complex environments through acts of regulation (and deregulation).


This study presents a 30-year narrative case focused on the significant social achievements of the Bonneville Power Administration within the Northwest United States. It combines the analysis of historical documentation, annual reports issued by the organization and interviews with firm management to observe the wax and wane of regulatory influence through time.


The presented case suggests two ways regulation projects state-logic influence onto hybrid organizations. First, it imposes a “floor” level of baseline social activity that must be met despite pressure from market logic stakeholders. Second, it imposes formal administrative procedures that require interaction with, and often approval from, key social stakeholders. Administrative procedures provide a series of public forums used to promote additional social resource allocation in excess of baseline regulatory mandates.

Research limitations/implications

A narrative case covering a 30-year period will by necessity have to prioritize breadth of analysis over depth. This is a limitation of the analysis presented, but it also provides an opportunity to observe the oscillating impact of state and market-logic influence through time.


The study findings have several implications for the growing accounting literature on institutional complexity and hybrid organization. First, the authors highlight the ways regulation shapes institutionally complex spaces and, as a result, the hybrid organizations formed within those environments. Second, the exogenous nature of regulatory mandates indicate hybrid firms could emerge as both a voluntary and an involuntary adaptation to institutionally complex environments. Finally, this study highlights opportunities to further one’s understanding how state logics influence hybrid organizations through the study of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).


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