Paradox of authenticity versus standardization: Expansion strategies of restaurant groups in China
Restaurant customers demand both personalized innovative, yet, affordable service delivery. Accordingly, restaurant groups that seek expansion must consider how to respond effectively to the standardization-authenticity paradox. This paper addresses two questions: what is the relationship between standardization and authenticity? How can restaurant managers use these concepts for the strategic positioning of their restaurant group? Typically, researchers present the two dimensions as a binary. In contrast, this paper first presents a theoretical model and analyzes the variations in the standardization-authenticity relationship. Subsequently, it classifies restaurant group expansion strategies into four categories: standardization of authenticity, authentic alliance, standardized chains and heterogeneity, and examines their respective level of competence required to increase performance. It concludes by presenting suggestions to position restaurants in terms of the extent of standardization and the extent of flexibility.