Psychological Ownership and the Organizational Context

Psychological Ownership and the Organizational Context

Theory, Research Evidence, and Application

New Horizons in Management series

Jon L. Pierce and Iiro Jussila

Psychological ownership as a phenomenon and construct attracts an increasing number of scholars in a variety of fields. This volume presents a comprehensive and up-to-date review of the psychological ownership literature with particular attention paid to the theory, research evidence, and comments on managerial applications.

Chapter 1: Life’s Ownership Experiences: An Introduction to Psychological Ownership

Jon L. Pierce and Iiro Jussila

Subjects: business and management, organisational behaviour

Extract

Think of the word ownership. What does it mean? For most people that we encounter our students in particular, initial thoughts focus on ownership in terms of having, holding, and belonging to oneself. Ownership is a legal right of possession. This emphasis upon the word ‘right’ expands, such that ownership can be seen as entailing a ‘bundle of rights’ relating to control over, information pertaining to, and a financial stake in the target of ownership (that is, rights to a ‘piece of the rock’). These three rights are commonly associated with and are the most often recognized in modern societies as to the meaning of ownership. Upon reflection, it is common for us to express our relationship with objects by employing the personal and possessive pronouns, such as – mine, my, ours, and theirs. In recognition of this mindset, Heider (1958) wrote that ‘attitudes of ownership’ are common among people. Similarly, it was Etzioni (1991, p. 466) who commented that ownership is a ‘dual creation, part attitude, part object, part in the mind, part “real”.’ These views are consistent with the thesis, offered by economic psychologist Leon Litwinski (1942) and social psychologist Lita Furby (1991), that a ‘psychology of mine and property attaches itself to objects.’ As a psychological state, the existence of ownership is present within the individual, it attaches to objects that may or may not be owned legally, and its accompanying rights and responsibilities are defined by the individual and not the legal system. Taking a ride...