A New Hampshire Supreme Court case defines ownership as “a collection of
rights to use and enjoy property, including the right to transfer it to others”
(Phillips Exeter Academy v. Exeter , 1943). In the common law, the two principal rights
to possess and to transfer the property are recognized as Legal and Equitable
titles, where Legal Title gives the right of temporary or permanent transfer,
and Equitable Title gives the right to use and enjoy the possession (Hohfeld,
1917; Toscano, 1983).
Interestingly, enjoyment is an attribute in both Livingston’s (2011)
definition of engagement, and in the principle definition of ownership (Phillips Exeter Academy v. Exeter , 1943).
The property is either created or earned and is equivalent to money,
which is the medium of exchange (Stookey, 2010).
The access to property equates to access to power as Karl Marx explained
“The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power” (Marx, 1975, p. 324).
Nevertheless, as Buchko argues, the mechanics by which ownership
influences attitudes and behaviors of the organizational participants are not
completely understood (Buchko, 1992).
Ownership is not limited to tangible objects. Psychological ownership is described as an
innately human feeling, and carries “important emotional, attitudinal and
behavioral effects” upon people that experience it (Avey, Avolio, Crossley, & Luthans, 2009, p. 175). While psychological ownership can exist
independently from possessional ownership, the later will nevertheless, result
in the former (Pierce, Kostova, & Dirks, 2001). Stookey (2010) investigated the
relationship between ownership, participation and commitment in the workplace and
showed that it has been well established as a distinct psychological construct.
Researchers in the fields outside of the higher education, found a positive
relationship between financial and psychological ownership and engagement,
commitment, and adaptation to change (Birchall,
2011; Lindquist, 1978: Avey, et al., 2009). The aim of this study is to inquire how such
psychological ownership would influence, if at all, the essential leadership
objective of faculty engagement and faculty fit within its department and
academic institution. To what degree the
organizational leadership could utilize ownership in accomplishing essential
administrative objectives remains largely unaddressed.
Commitment, retention, adaptability to change, employee turnover, and
innovation are just a few of the many drivers that could be affected by the
employee access to ownership in the organization (Stookey, 2010; Klein, 1987; Lindquist, 1978; Avey, et al., 2009). Birchall (2011) advocates for a
fairer type of Capitalism, member-ownership, in which the focus is
people-centered, rather than money-centered.
In such an organization, the owners are also the beneficiaries of the
business activities, and therefore, the level of stakeholders’ commitment to
creating enjoyable outcomes should be very high (Birchall, 2011).
Other educators highly recommend researching how ownership can be
utilized to accomplish such an important organizational outcome (Arogundade, 2012; Buchko, 1992; Stookey, 2010). Lindquist (1978) cites ownership as the first
out of 15 factors in reducing resistance to change. Lindquist defines that “the more an
innovation is “owned” by these affected by it, the greater will be full
acceptance” (p. 65). For people, “and
especially a professional, to give the time, energy and skill necessary to pull
off organizational or personal change that person needs to feel that this is a
change she had a part in making” (Lindquist, 1978, p. 241).
With the emergence of privately owned, for-profit, higher educational
organizations, ownership is readily available to faculty, administrators, and
as unprecedentedly to students. Where
there is access to money, the shares of a publicly traded stock can be easily
acquired in the free trade society.
Several studies outside of the United States presented some evidence on
generally positive educational outcomes based on the school’s ownership (Arogundade, 2012; Crespo-Cebada, et al., 2014). The research, conducted in 2007 by the
Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) found that privately owned
schools were more productive than public schools (2014).
An Arogundade’ University of Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria study showed that even
though within the South Nigeria post-secondary organizational paradigm the
Federally owned schools were more productive, the ownership indeed influenced
the work environment of the local universities (Arogundade, 2012). Ownership did not make a lot of difference in
the levels of administrators’ satisfaction within private and public schools
where relevant variables of organizational environment were controlled (Volwein & Parmley, 2000). The researchers in this study examine the
claim that levels of administrators’ autonomy, personal freedom from control
and regulation, supports a more productive administrative work environment (2000). Nevertheless, the problem here is that
leadership must be willing, prepared, and able to effectively control the
relevant environmental variables to accommodate the positive outcomes. Birchall (2011) and Stookey (2010)
report that the presence of ownership furthers leadership’s decisions,
leading to a distinct organizational environment, that improves employee
commitment and loyalty.
Stookey (2010) expands the argument
by introducing the term “Dynamic Commitment,” based on the idea that
stakeholders with like levels of organizational status will have greater
rapport with each other (p. 97). Similarly, such participants are more likely
to advance mutual form and interests (Stookey, 2010; Roethlisberger & Dickson, 2003). The educational outcomes within the state
versus private ownership model is an ongoing discussion, nevertheless, the
inquiry of this study is focused on whether ownership of the American
post-secondary institution changes the faculty engagement outcomes in teaching,
Theories are described as “sets of interrelated concepts, definitions,
and propositions that present a systematic view of phenomena,” hence the
inquiry of the research question for this study is theoretically sound (Jazzar & Algozzine, 2006, p. 16). It probes, if the phenomena of ownership’ experience
influencing crucial factors of employee work will apply to faculty in higher
education. The research question if
there will be a significant statistical difference in faculty engagement
factors in teaching and fit if faculty own their higher educational
institutions, will serve to probe if the theory even partially applies to the
Review of the Literature
ownership and fit
Studies support that ownership, even on the psychological level impact
the work and achievement process within organizations (Dirik & Eryilmaz, 2016). Psychological ownership is identified as the
sense of possession and attachment with respect to different matters or
processes within a group (Pierce, O’Driscoll, & Coghlan, 2004). The individuals within an organization who
can identify with the sense of psychological ownership in their mission and
work, considered improvements to their organization as a matter of personal
fulfillment and therefore could better identify with their departments and
organizations (Peng, 2013; Avey, et al., 2009).
The sense of fit, belonging to the department and institution is
considered in the work and engagement inquiries (Pierce,
et al., 2004). Applied reversely,
fit therefore can be related to the psychological ownership of a participant in
the work of an organization (Peng, 2013; Pierce,
et al., 2004; Avey, et al., 2009).
Livingston (2011) points to influence
of fit in the overall faculty engagement because it contributes to another
element of faculty engagement, overall faculty effectiveness and longevity with
the institution. Further, the study in the
medical field showed that ownership, aside from employee engagement, was a
critical factor in employees’ willingness to participate in the organizational
change (Hung, Wong, Anderson, & Hereford, 2013).
The contemporary trend toward increased productivity translates to the
expectation that faculty teach more students while participating in
administrative and other needs of the educational institutions (Cohen & Kisker, 2010). The faculty “lost much of their professional
independence and are now more accurately viewed as managed professionals
similar to attorneys and engineers working for large corporations” (p. 485). Researchers carefully consider how
technology, innovation, increased workloads and globalization influences the
faculty teaching outcomes. Nevertheless,
very little research provides evidence with respect to what constitutes and
furthers faculty engagement at work. At
the same time, understanding faculty engagement increases leadership’s ability
to develop effective and successful strategies for enhancing educational
outcomes, promoting students’ engagement and organizational hygiene of the
postsecondary faculty workplace (Herzberg, 1993; Herzberg, 1966). Expansion of the learner-centered paradigm in
higher education shifted attention from factors motivating and encouraging the
faculty to behaviors, efforts, and time commitments that accommodate students’
engagement and outcomes (Cohen & Kisker, 2010; Hu & Kuh, 2002; Astin,
1999). Since the work of faculty is an essential
contributor to the educational outcomes the inquiry into what supports faculty
psychological engagement is necessitated.
Nakamura and Csikzentmihalyi (2003) developed the
concept of the two-pronged vital engagement: “the phenomenon of enjoyable
interaction with the environment” also known as the flow state; and people’s
achievement of “meaningful relationship with the environment” (p. 83). In the vital engagement, the extensiveness of
immersion determines the bond with the paradigm: there is a powerful connection
between self and activity (Nakamura & Csikzentmihalyi, 2003). Essentially, being consumed by the activity,
having a strong felt connection with it: “a writer is “swept away” by a
project, a scientist is “mesmerized by the start.” The relationship has
substantial meaning; work is a ‘calling” (p. 86).
Jennifer Livingston (2011) initially identified
seven components that constitute the state of flow and relationship with the
activity as “energy, attention, enjoyment, purpose, values, efficacy, and
resilience” (p. 34). Nevertheless, the Livingston Faculty
Engagement Survey, replicated in this study expands these components to eleven
components: duty, absorb, forget, energize, dread, influence, discourage,
engross, difference, calling, and confident (2011). In arriving at the eleven components,
Livingston conducted several pilot studies with different component-composite
models and found that the eleven-factor survey presents a comprehensive model
for measuring faculty engagement in a specific activity such as teaching,
research, service, and fit. Livingston’s
model refocuses traditional conceptualization of faculty engagement that emphasizes
the behavioral characteristics to a psychological approach. Her approach cites the Nakamura and
Csikszentmihalyi (2005) conception that
faculty engagement is a psychological construct of “educating students;
preserving and advancing a specific domain of knowledge; serving the needs of
the institution; and responding to the needs of the broader society” (Livingston, 2011, p. 30; Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2005, p. 62).
The psychological, rather than behavioral nature of work engagement is
also often referenced to Kahn (1990) who confirms that
engaged people “drive personal energies into physical, cognitive, and emotional
labors” (p. 700). Interestingly, Kahn describes psychological
meaningfulness of engagement as “a feeling that one is receiving a return on
investments of one’s self in a currency of physical, cognitive, or emotional
energy. People experienced such
meaningfulness when they felt worthwhile, useful, and valuable – as though they
made a difference and were not taken for granted” (pp. 703-704; Maslow, 1954; Maehr, 1986). Kahn offers that engagement is present when
individuals exercise in their most desirable roles (Kahn, 1990).
The positive psychology of faculty engagement at work is centered on
supporting wellbeing rather than organizational dysfunction (Schubert-Irastorza & Fabry, 2014). Work engagement has been observed to counteract
the burnout (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008). Work engagement is also viewed as a highly
positive state branded by “vigor, dedication and absorption” (Schaufeli, Bakker, & Salanova, 2006, p. 701). Faculty engagement in any distinct activity
will show a high degree of positive energy, enthusiasm and would make it
difficult to disengage from the task (Schubert-Irastorza & Fabry, 2014).
ownership and engagement in teaching
While the nature
of its work uniquely separates faculty from many other categories of employees,
within and outside of the higher educational system, still the primary role of
the faculty is teaching (Braxton & Lyken-Segosebe, 2015).
Faculty is unique because it also is involved in such functional
roles as researching, service, and making the department and the entire
institution curriculum and teaching environment whatever it is, or into
whatever it could be (Livingston, 2011). The function of teaching occupies up to 85%
of the average faculty time at work (Rosser & Townsend, 2006). Livingston (2011) in constructing a
faculty engagement questionnaire identifies faculty engagement as a synergy of
teaching, service, research and fit.
Nevertheless, considering Rosser & Townsend’s research (2006)
the teaching factor would dominate in the engagement formula, because it would
only leave an average of 15% of faculty functional time to research, service,
and the sense of belonging to its department and institution, known as
It is not uncommon that prior
research would consider faculty engagement in teaching separately from research
and service (Braxton & Lyken-Segosebe, 2015). In fact, educational researchers call for
more inquiries into the different domains of faculty engagement in teaching (Braxton
& Lyken-Segosebe, 2015; Livingston, 2011). The call for finding ways of improving higher
educational scholarship through extending faculty engagement in teaching is
apparently as topical today as it was decades ago (Boyer, 1990).
The role of
organizational structure and its influences on academics, students and other
stakeholders has been discussed and studied in recent literature (Crespo-Cebada, et al., 2014).
Several studies concentrated on the role of firm structure in influencing
learning outcomes (2014). Clearly, the impact of organizational
structure on learning outcomes has been well established and recognized both in
the United States and abroad (Crespo-Cebada, et
al., 2014). In fact, some
studies, outside of the higher education field, demonstrated that generally,
privately owned, for-profit, independent institutions do perform better than
state owned (Donkers & Robert, 2008).