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Durham e-Theses
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Psychological ownership: a study of autonomy and the nature of its association with task commitment

Raynolds, P. Michael (1973) Psychological ownership: a study of autonomy and the nature of its association with task commitment. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The study begins with an investigation designed to test the 2-factor theory developed by Herzberg and his co-workers. (Herzberg, Mausner and Snyderman 1959) In this exploratory survey it was possible to measure both the motivational content of the work and people's attitudes towards it. The 2-factor theory (Motivator and Hygeine factors) is supported by the results, but only when certain opinions known to exist are suppressed. This finding is interpreted using the concept of perceptual defence. When people identify with the work they are doing, they are able to talk openly about their successes but report failure experiences defensively. It is postulated that Herzberg's results are a manifestation of this. The process of identifying with work, of seeing a task as a part of oneself, is called in this study Psychological Ownership and becomes the focus of the main investigation. The concept of Psychological Ownership is illustrated from managers' descriptions of tasks to which they feel committed. These tasks are compared with others for which they feel less enthusiasm. The data was collected using an interview with open-ended questions and scaled questionnaires. An association is demonstrated between Psychological Ownership and the Autonomy which the individual had in the task. These factors in turn, are shown to be related to feelings of Task Involvement. Autonomy is compared with a 'Sense of Achievement' as a source of Task Commitment and found to be a more important factor in determining positive attitudes to a task than is reflected in managers' beliefs about what motivates their subordinates. The study concludes with a discussion of Psychological Ownership as a concept, its relation to the other concepts, Achievement and Dob Involvement, and its implications for management theory and practice.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1973
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Nov 2013 15:37

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