Pathways to innovativeness: An investigation of innovation processes within UK franchise systems

Présentation de Dr. Anna Watson - University of Hertfordshire, U.K.
2019-01-16_Watson Anna

Dr. Anna Watson - Reader in Marketing at the University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom et Professeur Invitée à l'IGR-IAE Rennes
En coll.
avec Dr Julienne Senyard, Griffith University - Australia et Dr Lola Dada, Lancaster University - UK

Despite much of the dominant narrative within media arguing that franchising and entrepreneurship are very separate domains, more and more research in entrepreneurship suggests that franchisees can behave entrepreneurially (Ketchen et al., 2011). Little is known, however, about how these behaviours and processes occur within franchising (which “occurs when a firm (the franchisor) sells the right to use its trade name, operating systems, and product specifications to another firm (the franchisee)” (Castrogiovanni et al. 2006, 27-28). Businesses in dynamic environments recognise the impetus to innovate in attempts to grow and scale. Similarly, franchise systems need to create value within the shifting preferences of their customers. Franchisees, at the coal face of these activities, often are bound to follow the rules and regulations of the franchisor, and this creates constraints on decisions to innovate and entrepreneurial activities. We evaluate how franchisees may overcome these constraints through acts of innovation and “hidden” bricolage (Boxembaum & Roleau, 2011).

Franchisee innovations created through bricolage, without the knowledge of the franchisor, are likely to be limited to a single unit, with unpredictable consequences. The extent to which franchisees engage in innovation without the knowledge or sanction of their franchisor, is likely to be a function of their relationship with them. We therefore draw upon bricolage and social exchange theory to explore franchisee led innovation activities.

Through an analysis of interview data from 29 franchisees from 7 different franchise system we find that the strength of ties franchisees feel with their franchisor and each other, has implications for both the level of innovative activity, and how innovations are shared within the network. The implications of this for franchise managers are explored.