Franchising systems play a vital role in the creation of new jobs and economic development. Although the role of the franchisor as entrepreneur is generally assumed, there has been limited research on the conduct of entrepreneurial activities in the franchising system as a whole. In particular, researchers and practitioners need to better understand the influences of organizational context on entrepreneurial activities system-wide. The research reported in this article examines the influences of the organizational context of the franchisor on the entrepreneurial strategies of franchisors, their innovation efforts, and franchisor support of entrepreneurial activities by franchisees. Specifically, this study examines how the organizational context variables of size, age of the franchise, its growth rate (both absolute and relative), and time in franchising affect franchisee perceptions of entrepreneurial strategies of their parent franchisor, their innovation efforts, and franchisor managerial support for entrepreneurial activity and innovation by the franchisee. Franchisee perceptions of their parent franchisors' entrepreneurial strategies were assessed with respect to four dimensions identified in previous research as central to an entrepreneurial orientation: low concern for stability, willingness to take risks, aggressiveness in competition, and proactiveness (in seeking new opportunities). Innovation by franchisors was measured with respect to introduction of new products and techniques. Address correspondence to Dr. C.M. Falbe, University at Albany-Suny, Albany, NY 12222. Drawing on research that emphasizes the importance of instituting special organizational devices and rewards and recognition systems for promoting entrepreneurial activity, franchisor support for franchisee entrepreneurial activity and innovation (e.g., the development of new products and services, new techniques to improve customer service) was measured by the importance franchisees assigned to the use of a franchise council, the recognition of new ideas at the annual meeting of the franchise system, and the presence at franchisor headquarters of a champion for innovation. Consistent with other studies examining the influence of organizational context, it was hypothesized that organizational size and age would be negatively related to franchisee assessments of entrepreneurial strategies, the introduction of new products and techniques, and franchisor managerial support for franchisee entrepreneurial activity and innovation. In contrast, rapid growth was hypothesized to be positively associated with entrepreneurial strategies and support for franchisee innovation. No hypotheses were proposed with respect to time in franchising. Results of the study showed, as hypothesized, that franchisor size was associated with a concern for stability and strategies that were risk averse, cooperative, and reactive rather than proactive. However, size was positively associated with the frequent introduction of new products and also positively related to franchisor support for franchisee innovation. Contrary to expectations, age was positively associated with entrepreneurial strategies including a low concern for stability and an aggressive style of competition. In addition, age was positively associated with the introduction of both new products and new techniques. Relative growth, rather than an absolute rate of growth, was associated with all of the entrepreneurial strategies except risk-taking as well as with the frequent introduction of new products. Although no hypotheses were proposed for time in franchising, the findings show that it is associated with a greater concern for stability as well as the infrequent introduction of new products and techniques. The findings from this study suggest that franchisors need to institute measures to counteract the potentially deleterious influences of franchise system size on the entrepreneurial orientation within their franchising systems. It also suggests the resources of a large organization need to be combined with the flexibility of smaller units for competitive advantage. Entrepreneurial activity by franchisors and franchisees implies a partnership in adapting to the environment and can provide a competitive advantage. The challenge for franchisors will be managing new ideas from the field and adapting to a competitive environment while at the same time preserving the integrity of the franchising system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management
- Management of Technology and Innovation