Under a licensing agreement, a firm (licensor) provides some technology to a foreign firm (licensee) by granting that firm the right to use the licensor's manufacturing process, brand name, patents, or sales knowledge in return for some payment. The licensee obtains a competitive advantage in this arrangement, while the licensor obtains inexpensive access to a foreign market.
A licensing arrangement contains risk, in that if the business is very successful, profit potentials are limited by the licensing agreement. Alternatively, a licensor makes a long-term commitment to a firm and that firm may be less capable than expected. Or, the licensee may be unwilling to invest the necessary resources as needed to be successful. Licensing may be the least profitable alternative for market entry. Scarce capital, import restrictions, or government restrictions may make this the only feasible means for selling in another country.
Franchising represents a very popular type of licensing arrangement for many consumer products firms. Holiday Inn, Hertz Car Rental, and McDonald's have all expanded into foreign markets through franchising.