Preliminary remark: Ubergizmo seems the right part of lunch.com to place this review because serious academic case studies of marketing are examples of applied (social) science, part of the domain of ubergizmo as I understand ubergizmo. =-=-==-==-=-=-=-=-=-=-
The VINE program of amazon.com recently sent me its monthly list of items to receive at no cost to me to do no holds barred honest assessments. I selected three offerings: a biography of King Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch of England, a curry sauce mix and Ilan Alon's pre-publication book GLOBAL FRANCHISING OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT: CASES IN INTERNATIONAL AND EMERGING MARKETS OPERATIONS (April 2012).
Why did I pick a book on franchising?
I spent my junior officer and mid-career officer years in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State helping American businessmen make money overseas. Some of what they did was to offer franchises (be a franchisor) of their trade marks, product or service lines and proprietary knowledge to business people in countries like Afghanistan, Viet-Nam, Pakistan, Germany and Iraq. More recently, I have watched one of our sons take two business degrees related to franchising and to become a full time self-employed franchise professional. Much of what I now know of franchising comes from conversations with him and from books that he has recommended from his own teaching and lecturing.
So who is Ilan Alon and what is in his GLOBAL FRANCHISING OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT?
He is a PhD professor at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and visiting scholar at Harvard's Kennedy School. He has taught franchising in China, Italy and India. He has published prodigiously on his favorite subject. Even a very few pages spent reading his newest book amply demonstrates that Ilon Alon communicates briskly, clearly and in ways that make his lessons stay with you.
The focus of GLOBAL FRANCHISING is franchising outside the United States, a country with "about 785 thousand establishments with an output that approaches $740 billion ... (accounting for) nearly 18 million jobs (1 of 8) and a $2.1 trillion contribution to output" (Introduction). Not only does Alon in this book give most attention to other countries, he focuses on riskier, sometimes younger, markets in four either rapidly emerging or very young economies: Croatia, Korea, China and Indonesia.
Professor Alon looks at the mindsets of potential franchisors and franchisees: what is in it for both sides of the agreement between two independent parties. He looks at the generally weak legal frameworks for franchising in developing markets, the risks to both parties in the relationship and the need for people on the ground in the developing market under consideration to bridge language and cultural differences.
For the handful of countries studied, Alon divides his approach in two. FIrst, in separate chapters early in the book, he introduces the players, their backgrounds and motives, why they select a country and city to set up business in and more. He then leaves the reader dangling just before the franchisors take the plunge. He deliberately makes readers want to learn: how does all this turn out?
The latter question Alon answers at adequate length, case by case, in Chapter 10, "Final Reflections and Epilogues." He tells what happened, warts and all when a Croatian married couple, business-educated and business-experienced in the USA returned home to build the country's first "San Francisco Coffee House" and then expanded it by franchising to other cities. Ilon Alon does the same regarding Chapter Six's tale of Ruth's Chris Steak Houses ("the largest fine dining steak house in the United States") when the chain went overseas, where half its international establishments are now franchised. Ditto the other cases.
If a business-minded American teenager or participant in Junior Achievement (JA), were to pick up Ilon Alon's latest book, she or he would find a simply written, user-friendly book of the first magnitude for clarity and directness. Jack or Jill might not personally want to do business in Croatia or Korea, but they would probably pick up plenty of facts and insights applicable to the USA on the need for capitalization, the importance of location for retailing and much more. This book is, albeit so oriented to developing markets, not at all bad as a general introduction to franchising almost anywhere.
By the time Jack and Jill are in college they may be ready to become franchisees themselves, setting up, for example, their own moving van franchised company, barber shop or something similar. This book is VERY simply written. And yet at the same time, case by case, Professor Alon presents real, complex, very risky life, recent cases of ups and downs within a flexible, rapidly expanding business concept (franchising) whose motto is "be in business FOR yourself but not BY yourself" (Introduction).
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