Purpose - Conversion franchising is a strategy where franchisors recruit existing franchisees from rival systems or by converting independent businesses to franchisees. The present research aims to investigate the attractiveness of conversion offers and the likelihood of such offers being accepted under different conditions of the franchising agreement. Design/methodology/approach - Based on commitment theory and agency theory, it is hypothesised that conversion likelihood will be larger if the conversion offer is more attractive in terms of relational benefits, relational costs, the management of control in the franchise relationship, or perception of brand strength. The study comprises a qualitative phase followed by a scenario experiment held among 415 Australian business format franchisees across six industries. Findings - The qualitative findings reveal a predominantly calculative attitude towards the franchise relationship. The experimental findings support that relational costs and perception of brand strength are unconditional drivers of conversion likelihood; however, the effects of relational benefits and power and control depend on the details of the conversion offer. Effects of relational benefits depend on the level of power and control. More experienced franchisees and service-based franchisees are more likely to convert. Research limitations/implications - The use of experimental case scenarios limits the external validity but enhances the internal validity by allowing control for factors that are difficult to account for in survey-based approaches. The study includes only franchisees from Australia although from a range of industries. The proposed methodology can be easily modified for other contexts. Practical implications - The results can help franchisors tailor conversion proposals to suit specific conversion targets based on experience and industry type. Franchisors should generally focus on developing conversion proposals that are attractive in terms of perceived brand strength and relational costs. Relational benefits and management of power and control appear to play a role only in particular circumstances. For example, when no other factors differentiate the competitor, the management of power and control can make a difference in indicating franchise support quality and level of control among franchisees. Originality/value - The study extends franchising research to the franchisee perspective and to a non-American context. It utilises an experimental approach that hitherto had not been applied in franchising research, allowing rigorous testing of hypotheses about franchise behaviour. Hypotheses are tested for different industry groups.
- Agency theory
- Conversion franchising