Psychological Ownership and the Organizational Context
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Psychological Ownership and the Organizational Context

Theory, Research Evidence, and Application

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.
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Chapter 3: Roots: The Genesis of Psychological Ownership

Jon L. Pierce and Iiro Jussila


* In the previous chapter, we noted that a sense of ownership (that is, psychological ownership) is an outgrowth of the psychology of me, mine, possession, and property. We defined psychological ownership as that ‘state in which individuals feel as though the target of ownership or a piece of that target is “theirs” – that is, “it is mine!” ’ (Pierce, Kostova, and Dirks, 2001, p. 299; 2003). We noted that clinical and empirical evidence unequivocally confirms that the ‘psychology of mine’ is well rooted in people in Western culture. We went on to suggest that psychological ownership is common to people in and around organizations, appearing to attach itself to objects that are material (for example, work tools) and immaterial (for example, ideas) in nature. As such and throughout this book we make reference to the feelings of ownership that people develop for the work that they do (that is, their jobs) and to the organization. In this chapter we turn our attention to the question – Why do people have feelings of ownership? In order to address this question, we explore the genesis of psychological ownership. In particular, it is our intention to examine: (1) the linkage between possessions and the self; (2) the origin of possessive feelings; (3) the motives that serve as the underpinning to this psychological state; and (4) the emergence of psychological ownership. PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPERIENCES OF OWNERSHIP: LINKAGES BETWEEN POSSESSIONS AND THE SELF We acknowledge that the meaning attached to ownership, the linkage between objects (for example,...

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