Standardisation versus adaptation: Geographical pressures to deviate from franchise formats

There is a tension in business format franchising between, on the one hand, standardisation and uniformity and, on the other hand, geographical variations in market conditions and resource availability. Previous research has demonstrated in the case of independent small firms that local geographical conditions influence business strategy. This paper examines whether variations in the local geographical environment, notably in terms of demand and supply side conditions, affect format implementation and whether franchisors permit franchisees to make local adaptations of the format in response to local environmental conditions. The study is based on interviews with 40 UK-based franchisors, all of whom were at the later stages of roll-out or in the consolidation stage of network development. Local variations in the business environment do create a conflict with the need to maintain the uniformity of the franchise format. Adaptation was restricted to peripheral format components. No changes were made to the core format components. Most franchisors recognise that their franchisees are an important source of innovation. However, implementation of franchisee ideas across the system is found in only a minority of cases. These findings link to the franchisee control¿autonomy debate, confirming other studies which suggest that franchisees enjoy considerable operational autonomy.

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Keywords:

Business environment, Business format franchising, Core format components, Franchise format, Independent small firms, Local geographical environment

Additional information:

Language(s):English
AuthorsCox, Juliet (Policy and Research Unit NESTA, London, UK), Mason, Colin (Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)
Publisher:Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Keywords:Business environment, Business format franchising, Core format components, Franchise format, Independent small firms, Local geographical environment
Last update:2007