Psychological Ownership: How HavingControl Matters
Jun Liu, Hui Wang, Chun Hui and Cynthia Lee
Renmin University of China; Peking University; University of Hong Kong; Northeastern University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University
The study builds a cross-level work process control-based model of psychologicalownership in a Chinese context. We operationalize individual-level control as participativedecision-making and unit-level control as the self-managing team climate. We further theorizehow the value orientation of employees to power differentials moderates the mediating effectsof psychological ownership on the relationship between the two levels of control and employeeoutcomes. We found that the positive effects of control experiences on some outcomes aremediated by psychological ownership. Additionally, power distance moderates the mediating role of psychological ownership. Our results suggest that, in order to cultivate the positiveeffects of perceived control on employee contributions, managers should pay attention toemployees high in power distance since these individuals are reluctant to exercise control.Training or encouraging these individuals to participate in decision making may help themcultivate the positive feelings of psychological ownership.
Centuries ago, philosopher John Locke (1690) suggested that we are likely to feelownership for things we create, shape, or produce. Feeling that one owns something canhave powerful motivational properties. For example, Avey et al. (2009) noted that peoplecare for and nurture their possessions. They further noted that ownership in organiza-tional contexts may be more psychological than ﬁnancial in nature as employees fre-quently do not own shares in the organization. In organizational contexts, can employeesperceive psychological ownership even though they might not be the founder or aﬁnancial owner of the organization?Pierce et al. (2003) described psychological ownership as a cognitive-affective statereﬂecting the individual’s awareness, thoughts, and beliefs that the target of ownership or
Address for reprints
: Jun Liu, Department of Organization and Human Resources, School of Business, RenminUniversity of China, Beijing 100872, China (firstname.lastname@example.org).
© 2011 The Authors Journal of Management Studies © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and Society for the Advancement of ManagementStudies. Published by Blackwell Publishing, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street,Malden, MA 02148, USA.
Journal of Management Studies
49:5 July 2012doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2011.01028.x