Psychological ownership of a team of change agents during second-order change in schools and its implications for school culture

Shiran Benji-Rabinovitz, Izhak Berkovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Taking ownership is considered vital for sustaining change in organizations, particularly when second-order changes are the goal. Yet, few studies explored psychological ownership of change agents in educational organizations. Moreover, no knowledge exists on how agents' individual psychological ownership augments psychological ownership in schools and on how collective psychological ownership of change relates to school culture. The present study aims to address these two lacunae. Design/methodology/approach: A case study method was adopted to investigate the psychological ownership of teams of change agents in schools. Six Israeli secondary state religious schools adopting a new liberal curricular program were studied. Thirty one interviews were conducted with principals, program coordinators, mid-level teacher leaders and teachers who were active change agents in the promotion of the program. The interviews were complemented by quantitative data on students' perceptions of school discipline and tolerance of diversity based on the national school culture survey. Findings: The analyses revealed the prevalence of three types of psychological ownership in the sample of schools. The analyses also showed how key components of psychological ownership, i.e. responsibility and territoriality in relation to change manifest in the schools that were explored. Institution-level analysis shed light on the different effects psychological ownership of the change team had on sharing within the faculty. In addition, analyses showed how the scope of agreement between two key change agents, the program initiator and the principal, on psychological ownership affected various psychological ownership aspects of the team. Last, the analysis shows that two types of collective psychological ownership emerged in the course of a liberal school change, and that types were differently related to school outcomes. Originality/value: The study offers an innovative typology of collective psychological ownership during second-order change in schools, mapping two ideal types: cooperative and fragmented collective psychological ownership. The new types provide a better understanding of the dynamic of collective psychological ownership and its outcomes in organizations in general and schools in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-86
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - 4 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • Change
  • Change agents
  • Principals
  • Psychological ownership
  • School culture
  • Secondorder


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