Power and control in international retail franchising

Anne Marie Doherty, Nicholas Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As international retailers continue to employ franchising as a major method of market entry, the control of these international retail franchise networks becomes of significant importance. The aim of this paper is to examine the methods by which UK-based international fashion franchisors control franchisees and their international franchise businesses. The paper employs a qualitative methodology and a multiple case design. Six UK-based fashion retailers with international franchise operations form the empirical basis of the study. The franchise contract, support mechanisms, franchise partner selection, the franchise relationship and the use of master/area franchising were found to be the major methods by which international retail franchisors exert control over their franchise networks. While coercive and non-coercive sources of power were identified in the form of the franchise contract and support mechanisms, the paper also identifies sources of relationship power and organisational power. The paper provides practical information to existing international franchisors and those firms considering the move into the international marketplace via the franchise mode of operation. By highlighting additional sources of power in the form of organisational and relationship power, franchisors are offered further means by which to control their international businesses than hitherto identified in the international franchise literature. Traditional franchise research suggests that there is a dichotomy in the sources of power available to franchisors, that is, coercive or non-coercive sources of power. While acknowledging the existence and importance of these sources of power and their related methods of control, this paper adds further dimensions to the academic debate by introducing relationship power and organisational power. Therefore, franchise partner selection, the franchise relationship and the use of master/area franchising emerge from the qualitative findings as further control mechanisms available to international retail franchisors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1292-1316
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2006


  • Control systems
  • Fashion
  • Franchising
  • International trade
  • Retailing


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