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Engaging users in the sharing economy: individual and collective psychological ownership as antecedents to actor engagement

Jonathan J. Baker (Auckland University of Technology Business School, Auckland, New Zealand)
Treasa Kearney (University of Liverpool Management School, Liverpool, UK)
Gaurangi Laud (Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)
Maria Holmlund (Department of Marketing, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 10 May 2021

Issue publication date: 10 June 2021




This conceptual study explicates the dynamic, interlinked relationship between two of the most popular theories in marketing today: psychological ownership (PO) and engagement. The study is set in the sharing economy (SE), where platform business success depends on high levels of engagement by users, both individuals and collectives. The study argues individual PO (iPO) acts as the antecedent to engagement within a dyad of brand and user, and collective PO (cPO) as the antecedent to collective engagement by communities of users.


This conceptual study synthesizes PO theory and engagement theory to produce a PO–engagement framework. The authors adopt a dual-level perspective encompassing individual- and group-level phenomena in the SE and employ examples from practice to illustrate their arguments.


PO acts as the antecedent to the positively valenced disposition and engagement activities of actors in the SE. iPO manifests as engagement within a dyad of brand and user. Outcomes include brand love and contributions to brand reputation and service offerings. Collective PO manifests as engagement within a community or collective. Outcomes include community-oriented peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing for the benefit of others.


This study offers a dynamic framework of PO and engagement in the SE, the PO–engagement framework. The authors contribute to PO and engagement literature studies in marketing by illustrating how a platform user's attachment to targets in the SE motivates emergence of PO, and how different types of engagement manifest from different types of PO.



The authors wish to gratefully acknowledge the Guest Editors of this Special Section on “Psychological ownership in a service context,” Associate Professor Jörg Finsterwalder and Dr Alastair Tombs. Additionally, the authors acknowledge the generous, thoughtful and helpful feedback from the two anonymous reviewers.


Baker, J.J., Kearney, T., Laud, G. and Holmlund, M. (2021), "Engaging users in the sharing economy: individual and collective psychological ownership as antecedents to actor engagement", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 483-506.



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