Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations

Examining the Influence of Perceptions of a Supervisor's Leadership Style on Levels of Psychological Ownership Among Entry Level Professionals

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Patrick Pauken (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Judith Jackson May (Other)

Third Advisor

Christina Lunceford (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Hyun Ro (Committee Member)


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between the perceived leadership behaviors of upper-level student affairs officers and levels of psychological ownership among entry-level employees working in student services roles in higher education in the United States. Specifically, this study identified whether there are leadership behaviors, as measured by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Bass & Avolio, 2004), that relate to higher feelings of psychological ownership as measured by the Psychological Ownership Questionnaire (Avey & Avolio, 2007) among entry-level professionals. The relationships between institution type and leadership style and psychological ownership were also assessed.

Both the MLQ and POQ are valid and reliable instruments (Avey, Avolio, Corssley, & Luthans, 2009; Bass & Avolio, 2004); however, the responses of the participants in this study did not align with the models as proposed by the developers of the instruments. Based on the results of exploratory factor analysis, the models were modified. The new modified models reflected the overarching theoretical constructs of the original models. Significant results were found in the relationship between participants’ perceptions of leadership as measured in the MLQ and their feeling of psychological ownership as measured in the POQ. Additionally, there were several combinations of MLQ predictor variables which resulted in higher levels of psychological ownership, including Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation, Management-by-Exception Active, Individual Consideration, and Laissez faire. Surprisingly, neither perceptions of leadership nor feelings of psychological ownership were influenced by the type of institution were participants were employed.

The results of this analysis provided support for Avey et al. (2009), who suggested that a relationship exists between psychological ownership and transformational leadership. Based on this research, it appears that leaders can greatly influence follower feelings of psychological ownership by tailoring their leadership behaviors to be more transformational. These findings reinforce the critical role that leaders play in helping followers to feel ownership over their organization and their role within the organization.