Original Research

Generational differences in psychological ownership

Chantal Olckers, Corné Booysen
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 47 | a1844 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v47i0.1844 | © 2021 Chantal Olckers, Corné Booysen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 October 2020 | Published: 13 May 2021

About the author(s)

Chantal Olckers, Department of Human Resources Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Corné Booysen, Department of Human Resources Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Orientation: Several generational groups are employed in the workplace today, each with distinctly different attitudes, values and work behaviours. Little is known about how generational cohorts differ in terms of psychological ownership.

Research purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the measurement equivalence of the South African Psychological Ownership Questionnaire (SAPOS) across three generational cohorts (Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Generation Yers).

Motivation for the study: Before meaningful inferences and comparisons can be made about psychological ownership across the generational cohorts, it is essential to ensure that the psychological ownership scale measures the same trait across all three generational cohorts.

Research approach/design and method: A cross-sectional study was conducted with a convenience sample of 945 skilled respondents employed in various public and private organisations employing a multigroup confirmatory factorial analytical approach.

Main findings: The tripartite model of the SAPOS, comprising identity, responsibility and autonomy, was confirmed across the three generational cohort. Measurement invariance was established on configural, metric and scalar level across the three generational cohorts.

Practical/managerial implications: The three generational cohorts perceive the items as was measured by the psychological ownership scale in the same way. Meaningful comparisons can thus be made between the groups and organisations can tailor their interventions to enhance the levels of psychological ownership of each of these generational cohorts.

Contribution/value-add: This study is one of the first to provide empirical evidence of generational differences in respect of psychological ownership and to evaluate the measurement equivalence of a psychological ownership inventory across generational cohorts.


Baby Boomers; generational cohorts; Generation X; measurement equivalence; millennials


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