Social Enterprise in a Franchise Network  


Daniel Arenas

Maria Parareda


ESADE Business School Barcelona

Published in


This case describes how MRW, a Spanish courier and urgent delivery company, was created and its situation in the first quarter of 2004. At the time the case unfolds, the overnight delivery industry enjoyed an expansion process, and MRW was a leading player in the market, albeit facing fierce competition. The case highlights the franchise scheme used by MRW to grow, its commitment to service quality, and its determination to incorporate social plans into its strategy. It also underscores two salient features in company practices. First, MRW’s careful service quality metrics (incident types and occurrence percentages) contrasted sharply with the company’s rather lax controls over its social programs and policies. Second, while MRW’s social initiatives were easy to imitate, the organizational culture promoted by its headquarters and conveyed to its franchises (starting with the company’s preference to grant franchise licenses to former employees or employee relatives) proved rather unique and harder to replicate.

The leading actors in this case are Javier Marzá, MRW’s deputy director, and Paco Sosa, external relations head. They were both quite young at the time the case unfolded. Marzá had worked at MRW since he turned 18. Ricardo Pons, another actor in this case, was applying for an MRW franchise; he was a skilled manager, but he harbored some doubts about MRW’s social initiatives. Francisco Martín Frías, MRW’s CEO and president, is also featured in the case, as he still managed the firm, gradually stepping aside to leave its management to the new generation (including his daughter and son). The case unfolds at MRW’s headquarters outside Barcelona. MRW had performed soundly in recent years, and some franchisees were retiring, leaving their franchises up for renewal. Ricard Pons was about to acquire the Molins de Rei franchise (20 kilometers away from Barcelona).

This case has been prepared for graduate and executive education programs’ courses on corporate social responsibility or corporate citizenship. It may also be used in courses on business policy and, on account of its look at organizational culture, human resources.

This case may prove useful to lecture on:

  • Shared culture in franchise networks;
  • The use of social initiatives to create a common organizational culture, and
  • Integrating social initiatives into corporate strategies.