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Title:Innovation and governance mechanisms of restaurant franchise systems
Author(s):Su, Chi-Ting
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bercovitz, Janet; Mahoney, Joseph T.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Somaya, Deepak; Leblebici, Huseyin
Department / Program:Business Administration
Discipline:Business Administration
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Governance mechanisms
Contract theory
Abstract:Given its economic significance, franchise business has been widely studied by economists and management researchers since 1970s (Combs, Michael & Castrogiovanni, 2004; Lafontaine & Slade, 1997). While past franchising literature focuses on how the design of the franchise contract or the arrangement of the outlet ownerships can resolve the double moral hazard problem and to maintain the standardization of franchise systems, the current dissertation explores how the design of these governance mechanisms enables franchise system to achieve another strategic objective, innovations. After finding that the design of governance mechanisms is critical to franchise systems’ pursuit of innovation, the next natural question is how franchise systems can update their governance mechanisms to keep up the pace of innovation. The current dissertation uses the context of restaurant franchise systems, which account for one third of business format franchising’s contribution or about 1% to U.S. GDP, to explore these two research questions empirically. Innovations of restaurant franchise systems are approximated by the systems’ trademark registrations, whose data are obtained from U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. By incorporating the trademark data, this dissertation finds that the design of governance mechanisms is related to the number of innovations being developed by a restaurant franchise system. In particular, contract terms such as royalty rate, franchisees’ specific investment, and franchisees’ input purchase requirement are positively related to the number of innovation. As for organizational arrangement, the empirical finding suggests that the franchisor needs to be careful about the bargaining power of multi-unit franchisees. While having more multi-unit franchisees, instead of single-unit franchisees, may enable the franchise system to develop more innovations, the franchisor may need maintaining sufficient number of company-owned outlets in order to appropriate reasonable economic return from the innovation. The empirical findings are in line with the mainstream theoretical literature which focus on achieving system standardization as the main strategic objective. Despite its importance, this dissertation finds it may not be easy to adjust one of the important governance mechanisms, franchise contract, to keep up with the transaction attributes change of the franchise system. Ideally, franchise contracts should be updated in order to better align the franchisor’s and franchisees’ efforts in their collaboration. However, there are adjustment costs for the franchise systems to make such necessary changes (Argyres & Liebeskind, 1999; Nickerson & Silverman, 2004; Williamson, 1996). For example, the empirical results suggest incremental innovation may not drive the franchise system to adjust the inappropriate contract as effectively as a drastic increase in innovation. Moreover, franchisees’ psychological contracts with existing franchisor is also found to be a constraint for contract adjustment. In order to stay away from the high costs of persuading existing franchisees to switch to new contract terms, franchisors typically only apply the new contract terms to new franchisees. Incorporating this common practice, the empirical findings show that new franchisees’ social comparison costs (Nickerson & Zenger, 2008), which arise when the new franchisees compare themselves under the new contract terms to the franchisees who joined the system in the recent past under the old contract terms, reduce the likelihood of changing the franchise contract.
Issue Date:2017-12-08
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Chi-Ting Su
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-13
Date Deposited:2017-12

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