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 4: Owners and the targets of ownership feelings

Jon L. Pierce and Iiro Jussila

Subjects: business and management, organisational behaviour


As we work to understand the determinants of and effects produced by psychological ownership within the work and organizational context, it is necessary for us to answer two extremely important questions: Who is the owner? and What do feelings of ownership attach themselves to? To date those scholars who have contributed to our understanding of the ‘psychology of mine’ have not directly addressed the question ‘Who is the owner?’ In addition, there is no well-developed theoretical model that details the meaning and the nature of the relationship that individuals attach to objects that surround them. Several scholars have, however, attempted to understand the meaning associated with possessions at the different stages of an individual’s lifespan (for example, Kamptner, 1991). In this chapter, we will first address the question ‘Who is the owner?’ Second, we will review some of the literature directed toward the identification of the type of objects to which significant possessive/ownership relationships attach and derive a typology that can be employed to classify intraorganizational targets of ownership. Here we give particular attention to research on the meaning of valued possession across different life stages. Finally, we will present the results of a field study that we conducted which was focused on targets of ownership. Drawing upon the experiences of a diverse set of organizational members, we attempt to identify those intraorganizational targets for which organizational members indicated having experienced a sense of ownership. WHO IS THE OWNER? As we begin to address this question we start...

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