The Dialectics of Engaging the BOP through Microfranchising: Evidence from a Mexican Agribusiness
Microfranchising is emerging as a potentially powerful strategy for reaching the enormous markets at the base of the pyramid (BOP). Microfranchising also represents an effective and sustainable way to contribute to poverty alleviation and economic growth. However, we know little about how organizations maneuver contradictory forces as they use this innovative business model to engage the BOP. To address this gap, I offer a longitudinal case study of an emerging microfranchise effort by a successful Mexican agribusiness—one whose ambitions to continue growing were challenged by multinational agrochemicals suppliers. As this project shows, companies and BOP markets can realize mutual benefits from a value co-creation strategy. Specifically, I adopted a dialectical approach to analyze the tensions and competing forces that arose as business managers and local BOP distributors and producers collaborated in this emerging microfranchising venture. As a result, the research offers three contributions. First, it provides a detailed empirical account of how contradictory forces shaped the Mexican agricultural firm’s implementation of microfranchising to engage with BOP farmers. Second, it presents a conceptual synthesis that describes the major contradictory forces a company faces as it implements microfranchising as part of its BOP strategy. Finally, it offers lessons for how business managers can maneuver contradictory forces to co-create value with the BOP through microfranchising.