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 7: The Hypothesized Antecedents of Psychological Ownership

Jon L. Pierce and Iiro Jussila

Subjects: business and management, organisational behaviour


It has been suggested that an individual can become psychologically tied to and experience a sense of psychological ownership in a variety of life’s contexts (for example, at school, on the playground, at home, and in the community). In addition, clinical and empirical evidence suggests that a psychology of mine (ours) emerges around a wide array of objects, such as: territory (space), people (relationships), personal attributes, mental processes, and actions. Similarly, there is emerging evidence suggesting that the sense of ownership (that is, it is a part of me; it is ‘mine’; this is ‘ours’) also manifests itself within the work and organizational context, whereby such objects as work, projects, tools, space, ideas, teams, as well as the whole organization are examples of viable targets of ownership. In Chapter Five, we focused on the individual experiences that give rise to feelings of ownership. It was proposed that through control, intimate knowing, and investment of one’s self into an object that an individual comes to experience that object as one’s own and as an integral element of the self. These variables (control, intimate knowing, investment of the self) reflect the actual paths down which people travel that, over time and accompanying the right target attributes give rise to feelings of ownership. In this chapter it is our intention to take a closer look at the three ‘routes’ to psychological ownership, by asking ourselves what are the work and organizational conditions that have the potential to provide the experiences that contribute to...

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