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Title: Geographical dimensions of business format franchising
Author: Cox, Juliet Anna
ISNI:       0000 0001 3393 2574
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2002
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Franchising is one of the most understudied areas of entrepreneurship (Fenwick and Strombom, 1998) despite the economic significance and international scale of franchise activity. This thesis aims to redress this neglect by examining business format franchise systems in the UK. The research focuses on three key geographical issues. Paradoxically, geographical dimensions of franchise activity have not been acknowledged in past research despite the fact that franchising is inherently geographical and issues of expansion, location, territory and local environment are central to franchising. Forty in-depth interviews with franchisors across six different sectors of franchise activity have been conducted. The first issue examines why firms franchise and how spatial expansion is achieved. The findings suggest that franchise firms undergo a four-stage spatial expansion life cycle: the initial (pilot), roll out, consolidation and maturity stages. Three strategies were used to achieve network growth: (i) a franchisor-led approach; (ii) a franchisee-led approach; and (iii) a hybrid approach (franchisor and franchisee-led). Methods of growth included utilising single, multiunit and area operators. These expansion strategies illustrate the locational decision making processes of both the franchisor and the franchisee. The second issue examines how franchise systems manage the dynamic nature of network growth over time from early to latter stages of expansion. As a franchise network grows and with increased market penetration as a franchise format becomes better known, the basis of a franchise network may need to be restructured (i. e. new units added to existing operational areas). The sample of franchise systems had three models of network allocation: networks allocated on the basis of exclusive territories; networks allocated on the basis of non-exclusive territories; and networks where neither exclusivity or territories were allocated - units were simply licensed to franchisees. Network allocations had different contractual and operational implications for the restructuring process and the ability of a firm to take advantage of new market potential if it arose over time. Therefore, it was necessary for firms to employ restructuring mechanisms to facilitate new expansion opportunities. The third issue examines the role of the local environment and its effect on format implementation. Business format franchising is based on a system of replicating a comprehensive, tried and tested business formula based around a tradename or trademark, in different localities. However, franchisees operating in different geographical environments (which vary in terms of competition, consumer preference and level of resources) may not be able to adapt to the demands of their local environment because of the constraints of operating to a national or international standardised franchise format. A model is developed which demonstrates the circumstances in which format standardisation or adaptation occurs in response to local environmental pressures. Franchisors permit some format adaptation when the overriding benefits of modification lead to enhanced format implementation and operation. Format standardisation is enforced if adaptation negatively distorts system and brand integrity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available