ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2012, Vol. 44 ›› Issue (9): 1202-1216.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2012.01202

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The Antecedents and Outcomes of Psychological Ownership for the Organization: An Analysis from the Perspective of Person-Situation Interactions

LI Rui;LING Wen-Quan;Liu Shi-Shun   

  1. ( 1 School of Business, Soochow University, Suzhou 215021, China) ( 2School of Management, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China)
  • Received:2011-08-31 Published:2012-09-28 Online:2012-09-28
  • Contact: LING Wen-Quan;LI Rui

Abstract: In recent years, there has been an increasing scholarly attention to retaining valued employees and enhancing their performance by creating a feeling of ownership for the organization. This feeling of ownership is described as ‘psychological ownership’ and conceptually defined as a “state in which individuals feel as though the target of ownership (material or immaterial in nature) or a piece of it is ‘theirs’(Pierce, Kostova, & Dirks, 2001). On the basis of Pierce et al.’s initial theories and propositions, this study tried to explore the antecedents and outcomes of psychological ownership for the organization in the context of Chinese organizations. Specifically, the first objective of our study is to examine the main and interactive effects of supervisor’s authoritarian leadership style and employee’s collectivism on psychological ownership. The second objective of this study is to examine the effect of psychological ownership on employee silence, and investigate the moderating role of supervisor-subordinate guanxi playing in the linkages between them. A structured questionnaire was employed as the research instrument for this study. It consisted of five scales designed to measure the variables of interest, including psychological ownership, authoritarianism leadership, collectivism, supervisor-subordinate guanxi, and employee silence. To avoid the Chinese people’s tendency of choosing the mid-point of the scale regardless of their true feelings or attitudes, all of the items on the survey were responded to on 6-point Likert scales which did not include a mid-point. Data were collected from 216 full-time employees coming from telecommunication companies located in Guangdong province. To avoid the problem of common method variance, two waves of survey were administrated, with a time separation of two weeks. In the first wave, employees were asked to provide ratings of psychological ownership, authoritarianism leadership, collectivism, and supervisor-subordinate guanxi. In the second wave, employees were asked to provide information on their own performance of silence and demography variables. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients for the above measures were from 0.75 to 0.86, showing acceptable measurement reliabilities. Results of confirmatory factor analysis indicated the discriminant validity of the measurement was also satisfactory. In line with the hypotheses proposed, results of hierarchical regression analysis revealed that authoritarianism leadership negatively predicted employees’ psychological ownership, whereas the main effect of collectivism on this feeling was not significant. Results of moderated regression analysis suggested authoritarianism leadership significantly moderated the relationship between collectivism and employees’ psychological ownership. Collectivism was positively associated with employees’ psychological ownership only when supervisors’ authoritarianism leadership was weak. In addition, results showed the main effect of psychological ownership on employee silence was not significant, while supervisor-subordinate guanxi played a strengthening role in the relationship. Finally, the theoretical and managerial implications of the findings, limitations, and future research directions were discussed.

Key words: psychological ownership for the organization, authoritarianism leadership, collectivism, supervisor-subordinate guanxi, employee silence