Franchising Research: Major Milestones, New Directions, and Its Future Within Entrepreneurship


James G. Combs, tel.: (205) 348-6183; e-mail:, to David J. Ketchen, Jr. at, and to Jeremy C. Short at


For decades, most franchising research leveraged one of three theoretical milestones—resource scarcity, agency theory, and plural form symbiosis—to answer questions about why, where, and how often firms use franchising. Today's franchising researchers are leveraging new theories, investigating under-examined aspects of franchising, and exploring contextual factors that shape its use. The articles in the special issue continue these “New Directions in Franchising Research.” This introduction describes the three milestones that form the theoretical foundation for today's new directions, summarizes the special issue articles and their implications, and explains why entrepreneurship researchers are well-positioned to advance knowledge about franchising.1