The impact of the strategy and projects of a retail store group in the development of franchised cities in France: an approach through enactment of vision
Garreau, Lionel (2008), The impact of the strategy and projects of a retail store group in the development of franchised cities in France: an approach through enactment of vision, 24th EGOS Colloquium, 2008-07, Amsterdam, Pays-Bas
TypeCommunication / Conférence
Conference title24th EGOS Colloquium
MetadataShow full item record
Abstract (EN)Through the concept of “franchised city”, Mangin (2004) shows that cities are developed through projects of private companies that sectorize peri-urban areas, which give a special shape and functioning to cities. This macro perspective of the development of cities is the result of process led by public and private actors, which is not clearly identified. Understanding this process is important because of the amount of money involved for both private and public actors, and because the shape cities take has a strong impact on everyday life. This paper aims at reflecting on that issue and proposes a case study of Auchan, one of the biggest retail store group in France. The strategy of Auchan, and its implementation into projects, affects the shape and development of cities, and leads to franchised cities, as described by Mangin (2004). In 1976, the C.E.O. decides to acquire all the fields on which Auchan develops its hypermarket activity, and to acquire areas around in order to keep a development potential in term of room around the hypermarket. Auchan secured its vertical chain (Porter, 1985) by acquiring the resources that represent fields. The Auchan group is still the only retail store group to have this strategy. In 2006, Immochan, the real estate subsidiary of the group, is one of the main field owners in France. We analyzed how the company shapes and develops cities through commercial projects through an interpretative study that lasted 18 months. The three projects aimed at distinct objectives (development of a leisure park, reorganization of a retail park in common with a competitor, and development of a commercial activities park) and had different impacts on the cities. We propose a process view (Langley, 1999) of project development, based on the theory of enactment developed by Weick (1979 ; 1995). Through constant comparison, we explored the factors why projects became significantly different. More precisely, we followed transactions between city representatives and project managers, and led understanding interviews (Kaufmann, 2007) with actors to know the sense given to the real estate project by the members of the project. Actions taken during the project can be explained by the sense the members give to projects and to their relationships with stakeholders. Our study shows that competition in the commercial area has a strong impact on urbanism and leads to the development of franchised cities. We have three main results. First, we show that the control of resources that are fields, in a region where density is high, gives the advantage either to the Auchan or to politicians when negotiating the features of the project developed. This result is particularly important considering the strategy taken by Auchan to acquire fields during the lasts decades. It increases the impact this private company has on the shape of franchised cities. Second, we relate the development of cities to the strategy of the firm and the perception of the project leader. The project depends mainly on the project leader’s vision, which ultimately has a strong impact on urbanism. For example, the change of project manager made the development of a wholly integrated strip mall with many partners, which would create a very attractive project for a whole region, turn into the development of a parking lot and a few more square meters for the gallery than what already existed. The project managers’ points of view were contradictory. The departure of the previous project manager let some space for the second to enact its point of view, and to change considerably the city political, commercial and demographical potential influence. Third, we consider the link between beliefs in urbanism and project management, and the sense given to projects. A retroaction relation shows that if project managers influence the shape of cities, they are, as well, influenced by elements that they have in mind while working. The identification of these elements shows that the competition that takes place in the commercial area has a strong impact on the shape taken by a city. Our main contribution is the use of methodological individualism, centered on the project manager, to explain the process that leads to franchised cities. We describe how the visions of project managers of a retail store group lead the development of cities. We provide a renewed insight, based on management practices, to deal with the question of the construction of franchised cities (Mangin, 2004). In dealing with urbanism and strategic assumptions of projects development, we suggest new directions for research on city development and its management.
Subjects / Keywordsimmobilier; projet; vision; sens
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