Marketing relationship between franchisor and franchisee: two proposing models/Relacion entre franquicia y franquiciado. Se proponen dos modelos.

Author:Viera, Valter A.
  1. Introduction

    Ruekert and Churchill (1984, p.226) comment that "recent research in channels of distribution has emphasized the importance of the behavioral dimensions of channel interaction". In fact, one of the most important dimensions of channel interaction is the satisfaction among the organizations involved. It can be said that satisfaction plays a central role among channel members and that its importance is not only noted by managers, but also noted by the academic literature. Geyskens et al (1999, p.223) comprove this merit, saying that satisfaction is "the most popular construct in empirical studies about channel interaction, with 71 studies between 1970 and 1996".

    In a relationship between buyer and seller, satisfaction has been investigated continuously (Hing, 1995, Marrison, 1996). In this context, franchisee system appears as one of the most relevant kinds of buyer-seller relationships. According to Gauzente (2003, p.508), the franchisee's satisfaction "is considered to be a central variable for the intention to remain and hence for the franchise network's long-term survival".

    Despite the global growth of franchising, many fundamental questions still remain virtually unexplored (Tuunanen and Hyrsky 2001). From our knowledge, in Brazil, research about franchising has been covering different topics such as internationalization, risk analysis, strategy, franchising and culture, and transactions and value (1), however no literature has been specifically investigated franchising satisfaction.

    Thus, studying the antecedents that explain franchisee's satisfaction remains a gap to be considered by Brazilian researchers. Based on this context and looking for fulfill this gap, this article specifically (1) presents some propositions which, theoretically, contribute to explain franchisee's satisfaction, presenting two theoretical models, (2) presents the conceptual definitions of the constructs involved in the satisfaction context, and (3) discuss the methods used by other authors for measuring these constructs, presenting a list for future researchers develop better the topic.

    Therefore, this paper is organized as follows: it begins with a theoretical section in which we present the definition of satisfaction in an organizational buyer-seller relationship. Next, we propose two conceptual models of antecedents of franchisee satisfaction, presenting the theoretical support for each casual link. Consequently, we discuss the concepts, scales and methods used for measuring the constructs suggested. Then, we end with a final conclusion about the topic and suggestion for future research.

  2. Background

    2.1. Satisfaction in personal or organizational level: do they differ?

    Satisfaction definition has a lot of variations and a lot of ways to measure. In this part, we intent to present some definitions that give form to satisfaction construct.

    Gauzente (2003) comments that some satisfaction definitions are used wrongly in channel research, it is because some authors (a) mixed satisfaction from consumer perception (individual level) and/or from organizational perception (organizational level). Other cause is that the satisfaction definition is (b) used more in an individual level (Gauzente, 2003, Oliver 1980, 1993), rather than in an organizational level. Being more specific, Gauzente (2003, p.510) comments that "purchasing a franchise cannot be treated in the same way as buying a product, not without care and serious reservations". It makes sense, because for measuring buyer-seller is not the same of measuring seller-consumer relationship, because of the nature of the relationship and the object involved. Consequently, any study researching channel satisfaction should consider this warning. Therefore, our suggestion is that any research uses a specific satisfaction definition and splits it in either an organizational or individual level.

    Gauzente (2003, p.509-510) presents three fields of study in measuring satisfaction, which all categories are in channel member relationship. 1) Franchisee's satisfaction as a purchaser that means measure the customer satisfaction in organizational level, after the owner had brought the franchise system. In other words a franchisor and franchisees relationship pos purchase. 2) Franchisee's satisfaction as channel member is regarded as the working of the channel, the relationships, and, particularly in the context of franchising institutions. This definition presents more a stage where the satisfaction dimension is along the time (longitudinal) instead of in a specific moment. 3) Franchisee's job satisfaction means the perceived gap between what the individual earns and what he/she thinks he/she ought to earn, in other words, employees satisfied or not with their jobs. This approach considers the franchisee individual at his/her work, and therefore understands the satisfaction variable--within the work.

    2.2. Channel member satisfaction construct

    According to Rueckert and Churchill (1984, p.226) channel member satisfaction definition "... comprises the domain of all characteristics of the relationship between a channel member (the focal organization) and another institution in the channel (the target organization), which the focal organization finds rewarding, profitable, instrumental, and satisfying or frustrating, problematic, inhibiting or unsatisfying". Thus, these authors are much general in comprehending all characteristics and benefits of the relationship, such as monetary, personal, social, status and so forth.

    Dwyer and Oh (1987, p.352) comprehend satisfaction "as a global evaluation of fulfillment in the relation". The warning with this definition is that the fulfillment is not clear. It can be explained because a need from an organization could not be the same one from the other firm.

    Geyskens et al (1999) did a meta-analysis of satisfaction in marketing channel relationships. They used two types of satisfaction, extending the Rueckert and Churchill (1984) definition and conceptualization. One is economic satisfaction, which is defined as "a channel member's positive affective response to the economic rewards that flow from the relationship with its partner, such as sales volume and margins" (p.224). Economic satisfaction in this context can be summarized as achieve a goal or financial outcomes that involves monetary or capital return. The second one is noneconomic satisfaction, which is defined as "a channel member's positive aspects of its relationship, in that, interactions with the exchanger partner are fulfilling, ratifying and easy" (p.224). The noneconomic satisfaction presents view of satisfaction more in a personal level (i.e. the manager or the owner), in other words, it means that the partner is concerned, respectful and willing to exchange ideas with its other partner.

    In a general view, channel member satisfaction is defined most frequently as a positive affective state resulting from the appraisal of all aspects of a firm's working relationship with another firm (Gaski and Nevin, 1985; Geyskens et al 1999). Taking for this last viewpoint, "all aspects" could mean a lot of benefits. Therefore, Geyskens et al (1999) tried to be more specific in these benefits sharing them in two parts.

    In summarizing, a difficult task in channel research is to define if it would be used the definition from Geyskens et al (1999), who believes that satisfaction should capture both economic and noneconomic psychosocial aspects, or if it would be used the definition from Rueckert and Churchill (1984), who defend that satisfaction (by one measure) evaluates all characteristics of the relationship.

    Although there are other definitions to buyer-seller satisfaction (Anderson and Narus 1990), in this study we will focus on Geyskens et al (1999) and Rueckert and Churchill (1984) for proposing the models. We believe that these definitions have been more discussed by literate, are more generally accepted by the academy (since many of the articles used them), represent most part of the overall satisfaction and are more applicable to the Brazilian reality.

    2.3. Impacts of Satisfaction in a Buyer-Seller Relationship: relevance of the study

    Presenting the merit of studying satisfaction in channel member relationship is not sufficient to persuade some researchers and managers in investigating more it. Thus, in this topic we present some arguments that justify research the channel relation satisfaction.

    First, in the negative point, for Dwyer and Oh (1987, p.349) dissatisfaction, the contrary of satisfaction, may "... (1) hinder morale, (2) impede cooperation, (3) precipices litigation, and (4) fuel for protective legislation". When the channel is looking for more satisfaction in its relationship, it is, as consequence, seeking eliminates the egoist morale from a specific member, trying to increase the cooperation (which could provide more competitive advantage for the members), and trying to eliminate the conflict existent. As a conclusion, these features, when well managed, are essential for the cooperative and collaborative behavior that could increase in the channel members. Second, satisfaction of channel members is central, for several reasons. It increases morale among those involved, encouraging them to greater cooperation; it reduces the rate of breakdowns in relationships; it discourages the recourse to preventive legislation, it reduces conflict within the system, which in turn helps to promote better overall performance (Gauzente 2003), it affects channel member's morale and resulting incentive to participate in collective activities, it helps in developing integrated logistic management and just-in-time inventory systems (Geyskens et al 1999), it is an important means for achieving loyalty (Wallace et al 2004) and it leads to increase the continuity and enhancement in a buyer-seller relationship (Selnes 1998). Third, research in channel member relationship is very...

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