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Price Control In Franchised Chains: The Case Of McDonald's Dollar Menu

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  • Itai Ater

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Stanford University)

  • Oren Rigbi

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Stanford University)

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    Abstract

    We present new evidence on the ability of chains to improve control over prices set in their franchised outlets. We construct and analyze panel data of fast food outlets from 1999 and 2006 to quantify price differences between franchised and corporate-owned outlets, and to test whether the introduction of low-priced items is an effective tool to control prices in franchised chains. Our main finding is that since 1999, McDonald's franchisees’ price premium over corporate-owned outlets has fallen by 70%, and that this drop has occurred only in items with good substitutes in the Dollar Menu, introduced by McDonald's in 2002. We also test how competition and repeat customers affect pricing in franchised and corporate-owned outlets. We find that whereas the existence of repeat customers affects prices, competition does not.

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    File URL: http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/repec/sip/06-022.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 06-022.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2007
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    Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:06-022

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    Related research

    Keywords: Franchising; Fast food; Free riding; Vertical restraints;

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    1. Lafontaine, Francine & Slade, Margaret E, 1997. "Retail Contracting: Theory and Practice," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(1), pages 1-25, March.
    2. Brickley, James A. & Dark, Frederick H., 1987. "The choice of organizational form The case of franchising," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 401-420, June.
    3. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
    4. Rubin, Paul H, 1978. "The Theory of the Firm and the Structure of the Franchise Contract," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 223-33, April.
    5. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-95, December.
    6. Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Ownership, Agency, and Wages: An Examination of Franchising in the Fast Food Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(1), pages 75-101, February.
    7. Francine Lafontaine, 1995. "Pricing Decisions in Franchised Chains: A Look at the Restaurant and Fast-Food Industry," NBER Working Papers 5247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Graddy, Kathryn, 1997. "Do Fast-Food Chains Price Discriminate on the Race and Income Characteristics of an Area?," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(4), pages 391-401, October.
    9. Arturs Kalnins, 2003. "Hamburger Prices and Spatial Econometrics," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(4), pages 591-616, December.
    10. Barron, John M & Umbeck, John R, 1984. "The Effects of Different Contractual Arrangements: The Case of Retail Gasoline Markets," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 313-28, October.
    11. Klein, Benjamin & Saft, Lester F, 1985. "The Law and Economics of Franchise Tying Contracts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 345-61, May.
    12. Kaufmann, Patrick J & Lafontaine, Francine, 1994. "Costs of Control: The," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(2), pages 417-53, October.
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