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Targeting Managerial Control: Evidence from Franchising

  • Francine Lafontaine
  • Kathryn L. Shaw

Using an extensive longitudinal data set on franchising firms, we show that established franchisors manage their portfolio of company and franchised units to maintain a particular target level of corporate control and ownership of outlets. On average, established franchisors maintain about 15 percent of their outlets as company owned - with the other 85 percent owned by franchisees. Interestingly, the rate of company ownership does not rise or fall within firms as they gain experience or learn, or as they succeed or fail. However, the targeted rate does vary considerably across firms: firm-specific fixed effects explain 90 percent of the variance of company ownership rates in our longitudinal data. Given strong evidence that firms target specific, but different, rates of company ownership, what factors determine firms' optimal targeted rates? We find that brandname value is an important determinant: franchisors with high brandname value, as measured by advertising fees or major media expenditures, target high rates of company ownership. We argue that targeting high rates of company ownership is desirable in chains with more valuable brands because individual franchisees have incentives to free ride on brandname value. Consequently, high-value franchisors need to exert more direct managerial control over outlets in their chain. In addition, high company ownership rates give franchisors better incentives to maintain the value of their brand.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8416.

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Date of creation: Aug 2001
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Publication status: published as Lafontaine, Francine and Kathryn L. Shaw. "Targeting Managerial Control: Evidence From Franchising," Rand Journal of Economics, 2005, v36(1,Spring), 131-150.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8416
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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. Francine Lafontaine, 1992. "Agency Theory and Franchising: Some Empirical Results," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(2), pages 263-283, Summer.
  3. Lafontaine, Francine & Shaw, Kathryn L., 1998. "Franchising growth and franchisor entry and exit in the U.S. market: Myth and reality," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 95-112, March.
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  7. Dnes, Antony W, 1993. "A Case-Study Analysis of Franchise Contracts," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 367-93, June.
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  9. Sugato Bhattacharyya & Francine Lafontaine, 1995. "Double-Sided Moral Hazard and the Nature of Share Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(4), pages 761-781, Winter.
  10. Thompson, R. Steve, 1994. "The franchise life cycle and the Penrose effect," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 207-218, July.
  11. Andrea Shepard, 1993. "Contractual Form, Retail Price, and Asset Characteristics in Gasoline Retailing," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(1), pages 58-77, Spring.
  12. Muris, Timothy J & Scheffman, David T & Spiller, Pablo T, 1992. "Strategy and Transaction Costs: The Organization of Distribution in the Carbonated Soft Drink Industry," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 83-128, Spring.
  13. Brickley, James A, 1999. "Incentive Conflicts and Contractual Restraints: Evidence from Franchising," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 745-74, October.
  14. Gallini, Nancy T & Lutz, Nancy A, 1992. "Dual Distribution and Royalty Fees in Franchising," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(3), pages 471-501, October.
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  16. Francine Lafontaine & Kathryn L. Shaw, 1996. "The Dynamics of Franchise Contracting: Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 5585, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Brickley, J.A. & Dark, F.H. & Weisbach, M.S., 1988. "The Economic Effects Of Franchise Termination Laws," Papers 88-11, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  18. Martin, Robert E, 1988. "Franchising and Risk Management," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 954-68, December.
  19. Lafontaine, Francine & Slade, Margaret E., 1996. "Retail contracting and costly monitoring: Theory and evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 923-932, April.
  20. James A. Brickley & Frederick H. Dark & Michael S. Weisbach, 1991. "An Agency Perspective on Franchising," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 20(1), Spring.
  21. Carmichael, H Lorne, 1983. "The Agent-Agents Problem: Payment by Relative Output," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 50-65, January.
  22. Lafontaine, Francine & Bhattacharyya, Sugato, 1995. "The role of risk in franchising," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 2(1-2), pages 39-74, October.
  23. Mathewson, G Frank & Winter, Ralph A, 1985. "The Economics of Franchise Contracts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 503-26, October.
  24. 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.
  25. Lutz, Nancy A., 1995. "Ownership rights and incentives in franchising," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 2(1-2), pages 103-131, October.
  26. Maness, Robert, 1996. "Incomplete contracts and the choice between vertical integration and franchising," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 101-115, October.
  27. Norton, Seth W, 1988. "An Empirical Look at Franchising as an Organizational Form," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(2), pages 197-218, April.
  28. Klein, Benjamin, 1995. "The economics of franchise contracts," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 2(1-2), pages 9-37, October.
  29. Minkler, Alanson P., 1990. "An empirical analysis of a firm's decision to franchise," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 77-82, September.
  30. 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.
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