Is the project ‘mine’ or ‘ours’? A multilevel investigation of the effects of individual and collective psychological ownership

Ieva Martinaityte, Kerrie L. Unsworth, Claudia A. Sacramento

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12 Citations (Scopus)
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Challenging the dominant view that individual psychological ownership (IPO) is only relevant at the individual and collective psychological ownership (CPO) at the group level, we developed a multilevel model of psychological ownership. We distinguished theoretically and empirically between two types of ownerships and test how IPO and CPO effect individual and team behaviours. Data were obtained across three-time points from 186 members and their managers in 39 project teams from multiple countries. Results revealed that, at the individual level, both IPO and CPO were positively related to individual engagement which, in turn, related to individual creativity. However at the group level, group-mean IPO was negatively related to team engagement, while group-mean CPO was positively related to team engagement. Team engagement, in turn, was positively related to team creativity. This study sheds light on IPO and CPO as being independent constructs with distinct positive and negative effects on individual and team processes and outcomes. Practitioner points: In a team project, it is important for every member to feel personal ownership towards the project as it drives individuals to invest more effort and be more creative in the project. At the same time, managers should be aware that individual ownership minimizes collective effort. Teams with high individual ownership are less collectively engaged, which in turn diminishes team creativity. Managers should invest time in making each team member feel like a project owner, but also focusing on teams developing a feeling of collective ownership (‘This is our project’) if they expect higher team dedication and more creative project outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-327
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date17 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • creativity
  • engagement
  • multilevel
  • psychological ownership

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