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Franchising and the Family Firm: Creating Unique Sources of Advantage Through “Familiness”


  • A previous version of this manuscript was presented at the Family Enterprise Research Conference, Cancun, Mexico. We are grateful to the ETP special issue editors—Jim Combs, Dave Ketchen, and Jeremy Short—and the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful and developmental feedback, which led to substantial improvements in our work. We also benefited greatly from the valuable comments and suggestions on earlier drafts from Frank Hoy and Dianne Welsh as well as from the participants of the FERC conference in 2010.

  • The order of authorship is alphabetical. Each author contributed equally.

Francesco Chirico, tel.: (979) 845-8195; e-mail: and, to R. Duane Ireland at, and to David G. Sirmon at


The paucity of research examining family firms engaged with franchising is surprising. We theorize about differences in franchising behavior between family and nonfamily firms and the relative advantages accruing to family firms in this context. We also explore how selection processes tend to lead to family franchisor/family franchisee matches that enable a more effective sharing of complementary resources. The theoretical framework we develop is grounded in the “familiness” of the family firm as suggested by the logic of the resource-based view. Additionally, our theoretical analysis extends and complements the frequent use of agency theory as the basis for studying franchising.