When the music stops playing: post-litigation relationship dissolution in franchising

Marko Grünhagen, Xu (Vivian) Zheng, Jeff Jianfeng Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Franchise relationships engender franchisor–franchisee conflicts and are prone to premature dissolution. Building on agency theory and institutional theory, this study examines what specific reasons – from both franchisors’ and franchisees’ perspectives – may cause post-litigation relationship dissolution (PLRD) and how franchise regulations moderate these relationships. We argue that both franchisor and franchisee may misrepresent themselves before their relationship begins (adverse selection) and behave opportunistically after the contract is signed (moral hazard), that is, ‘dual agency’. Based on 20-year archival records of franchisor–franchisee relationship histories gleaned from multiple data sources, we found that PLRD is likely to be caused by franchisors’ passive moral hazard and by franchisees’ active moral hazard. In addition, franchisor adverse selection has a greater impact on PLRD than franchisee adverse selection. With regards to regulatory influences, the presence of relationship law weakens the impact of franchisees’ passive moral hazard, but not their active moral hazard, on PLRD. Contrary to what we hypothesize, the presence of registration law amplifies the impact of franchisee adverse selection on PLRD. Ultimately, this study creates a better understanding of the antecedents and curbing mechanisms of PLRD in franchising.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-153
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Retailing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adverse selection
  • Dual agency
  • Franchising
  • Moral hazard
  • Post-litigation relationship dissolution
  • Regulation

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