Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Psychological Ownership: Development of an Instrument

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Psychological Ownership: Development of an Instrument

Article excerpt


Problem statement

Key focus of the study

What is wrong with you? This question has long been the dominant mantra of Psychology. However, positive psychologists (Peterson, 2000; Seligman, 1999; Snyder, 2000) have urged other psychologists to focus rather on what is right with people than on what is wrong with them. Luthans (2002) explored the implications of positive psychology for organisational behaviour and advised all researchers in the domain of Psychology to adopt a proactive positive organisational behavioural approach.

Psychological ownership has recently emerged as a positive psychological resource and it meets the recognised positive organisational behaviour (POB) criteria because it is based on theory and research, can be measured, is open to change and development and affects the performance of organisations (Avey, Avolio, Crossley & Luthans, 2009). However, instruments that have been used in an attempt to measure the psychological ownership phenomenon have lacked evidence in support of the extensive reach of psychological ownership.

Background to the study

When psychological and work-related constructs are measured in a cross-cultural framework, it is essential to establish equivalence of the measures prior to drawing significant substantive conclusions about the relative value of constructs across countries (De Beuckelaer, Lievens & Swinnen, 2007). Several studies undertaken in South Africa have indicated that because of national cultural differences, the reliability and validity of instruments developed in other countries cannot simply be generalised for South Africa and thus have limited practical value for South African cross-validation purposes. Examples are Litwin and Stringer's Organisational Climate Questionnaire (Olckers, Buys & Zeeman, 2007), the multi-dimensional Emotional Empathy scale (Olckers, Buys & Grobler, 2010) and the Organisational Culture Profile questionnaire (Maré, 2009).

Trends from the research literature

Two measuring instruments are available for measuring the psychological ownership phenomenon. Pierce, Van Dyne and Cummings (as cited in Vandewalle, Van Dyne & Kostova, 1995) have developed and validated a five-item instrument for the measurement of psychological ownership. According to them, psychological ownership is operationalised with a set of items measuring the attitude of feeling ownership of the organisation, for example, 'this is MY organisation' and 'I sense that this organisation is OUR company'. The coefficient alpha of Cronbach, established in three different US samples, has shown acceptable internal consistency reliability (0.87, 0.90 and 0.93). A limitation of this instrument is that psychological ownership is measured by utilising only a five-item instrument. Since psychological ownership is a multi-dimensional construct (Avey et al., 2009), this five-item instrument seemingly lacks the ability to grasp the extensive reach of psychological ownership.

Avey et al. (2009) have developed a 16-item, five-dimensional measure of psychological ownership and have distinguished between two forms of psychological ownership: promotion- orientated and prevention-orientated psychological ownership. Their basis for examining these two unique and independent forms of psychological ownership is based on Higgens' (1997) regulatory focus theory. According to Higgens (1997), people have two basic self-regulation systems. The one system regulates the achievement of rewards and focuses individuals on promotion goals, whereas the other system regulates the avoidance of punishment and focuses individuals on prevention goals. Promotion goals include wishes, hopes and aspirations, representing the 'ideal self'. Prevention goals include obligations, duties and responsibilities, representing the 'ought self'. Both prevention and promotion goals are important for the survival of the human being and the one approach is not necessarily more desirable than the other. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.