Date of Award

Fall 11-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (PhD)

Department

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dana Kendall, Ph.D.

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Joey A. Collins, Psy.D.

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Bob Lewis, Ph.D.

Keywords

psychological ownership, job autonomy, positive affectivity, routes to ownership, experienced control, investment of self

Abstract

Psychological ownership has come to light as an important state with strong implications on employee attitudes and behaviors. However, relatively little attention has been paid towards the process by which employees come to develop feelings of psychological ownership towards their work, particularly regarding the role played by individual traits in this process. Ownership theorists claim that personality and disposition should matter (Mayhew, Ashkanasy, Bramble, & Gardner, 2007; Pierce & Jussila, 2011), yet these claims remain largely untested.

The purpose of the current investigation is to address these gaps by exploring how employee disposition and job design contribute to the development of job-based psychological ownership. Employing a cross-sectional approach, data were collected using an online survey where participants were asked to complete measures of trait positive affectivity (PA), job characteristics, work experiences, and job-based psychological ownership. Because the study focused on job-related phenomenon, participants were required to work full-time in a location other than their home to be considered for this study. The final 426 participants (60.4% male, 39.6% female) had an average tenure of 5.04 years (SD = 5.03) and represented a wide range of industries and job levels (23.7% entry-level, 31.0% individual contributor, 17.8% supervisory, 10.8% mid-level manager, 2.8% senior manager, 13.8% technical or professional). Hypotheses were tested using bootstrapped regression analyses and structural equation modeling.

Results indicated that job autonomy has a positive effect on job-based psychological ownership (B = 0.501, CI 0.415 to 0.594) through three mediated paths: investment of ideas, effort, and self into one’s work (B = 0.252, CI 0.178 to 0.349), experienced control and influence over one’s work (B = 0.214, CI 0.137 to 0.293), and intimate knowledge and understanding of one’s job (B = 0.036, CI 0.003 to 0.082). Employee PA significantly moderated the mediated path from autonomy to ownership through experienced control (Index of ModMed = 0.017, CI 0.000 to 0.045), such that control mattered more for high-PA employees. Exploratory analyses suggest that PA may play a dual role – as a moderator of autonomy’s effects on control (B = 0.052, CI 0.009 to 0.100), and as an indirect effect on ownership itself. For example, high-PA employees reported greater investment of self in their work, which in turn predicted job-based psychological ownership (B = 0.255, CI 0.177 to 0.361).

Ultimately, job autonomy stood out as having a particularly strong and consistent positive effect on job-based psychological ownership. Results suggest that all employees, from the most enthusiastic to the most apathetic can experience this positive psychological state. That is, as long as they are afforded a high level of autonomy in deciding how to plan and carry out their work.

Comments

Screenshots and images of the scales used in this study were removed from the appendix.

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