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Understanding denominational structures: churches as franchise organizations

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  • Charles Zech

Abstract

One of the most complex, yet least-analyzed, organizational relationships is that between a religious denomination and its member congregations. This study maintains that denominational-congregational relationships in US Christian churches can be informed by the franchise model of organizations. It is argued that it is possible to envision a continuum of church organizational structures, ranging from a branch office, through various forms of franchise arrangements (including company owned, business format, and trademark franchises) to freestanding entrepreneurial units. By studying those situations where the franchise model explains denominational behavior, and contrasting them with those situations where the franchise model is not a good fit, we can learn more about denominational structures.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Zech, 2003. "Understanding denominational structures: churches as franchise organizations," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 323-335.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:ijecbs:v:10:y:2003:i:3:p:323-335 DOI: 10.1080/1357151032000126265
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 223-233, April.
    2. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-291, April.
    3. Ekelund, Robert B, Jr & Hebert, Robert F & Tollison, Robert D, 1989. "An Economic Model of the Medieval Church: Usury as a Form of Rent Seeking," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 307-331, Fall.
    4. Oster, Sharon M., 1996. "Nonprofit organizations and their local affiliates: A study in organizational forms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 83-95, July.
    5. Davidson, Audrey B., 1995. "The medieval monastery as franchise monopolist," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 119-128, June.
    6. Allen, Douglas W., 1995. "Order in the church: A property rights approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 97-117, June.
    7. James A. Brickley & Frederick H. Dark & Michael S. Weisbach, 1991. "An Agency Perspective on Franchising," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 20(1), Spring.
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    Keywords

    Franchise; Church; Agency;

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