How can new players establish themselves in highly institutionalized labour markets? A Belgian case study in the area of project-based work

How can new players seeking to serve nonstandard worker categories (such as project-based workers) establish themselves into labour markets that are highly institutionalized? This paper explores the case of SMart, a Belgian community-based labour market intermediary that successfully developed solutions to better represent the interests of project-based workers and secure their discontinuous careers. Using an organizational legitimacy approach, we find that labour market entry and growth involve different types of boundary-crossing when addressing the needs of workers that do not fit into established categories. However, to justify boundary-crossing, the new player must complement its pragmatic work on delivering new services and tools with conceptual (cognitive) and structural (moral) legitimation work.


Virginie Xhauflair, Benjamin Huybrechts and François Pichault. 2017. How Can New Players Establish Themselves in Highly Institutionalized Labour Markets? A Belgian Case Study in the Area of Project-Based Work, British Journal of Industrial Relations, first published 9 November 2017:


2017-12-14T16:38:51+00:00 By |

About the Author:

Benjamin Huybrechts
I am an Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship and Organization at emlyon business school, Casablanca campus. I hold a PhD in Management from the University of Liège (HEC Liège, 2010) and I spent my post-doctoral research stay at the University of Oxford (Saïd Business School). Before joining emlyon business school, I was an Associate Professor at HEC Liège, where I ran the doctoral program in management. I supervised 7 doctoral theses, among which 2 were succesfully completed and 4 are still on-going.

My research topics include entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial teams in developing countries, the emergence of new hybrid organizational forms, the diffusion of social innovation, and the governance of cross-sector partnerships and networks. I study these topics in fields such as fair trade, recycling, renewable energy, culture and more broadly social entrepreneurship. My research has been published in journals (Organization Studies, Journal of Business Ethics, International Small Business Journal, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development…), books, and book chapters.

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