“The Future of Ownership Research” Workshop 2017

On the 7th and 8th July 2017, our team hosted an interdisciplinary workshop on ownership research at the WU Vienna University of Economics and Business in collaboration with our colleagues Joann Peck (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Stephan Dickert (Queen Mary University of London).


The Organizational Committee

For this interdisciplinary workshop, we invited over 42 international experts from 14 countries to network and discuss the conditions, manifestations and consequences of “ownership” and related concepts such as possession, entitlement, endowment, territoriality and sharing. The workshop not only focused on the concept of ownership from a legal perspective, but also on its psychological manifestation – a person’s sense of ownership, which we know can exist independently of legal ownership status.

Given the high relevance of both the objective and subjective dimension of the concept, the aim of the workshop was to deal with potential future research in this area as well as approach a common theory and understanding of this ubiquitous phenomenon. The participating scholars tackled many of these questions over the course of the two days. Different presentation and discussion formats ensured a holistic and fruitful discourse. In addition to the 21 regular talks that were held within the scope of 7 interdisciplinary sessions, we included 2 blitz talk sessions that enabled a constructive debate on preliminary findings as well as novel research ideas. Furthermore, 2 keynote sessions put the phenomenon into a broader perspective. Finally, many inspiring conversations that were held in-between sessions complemented the experience and helped to lay the foundation for a follow-up workshop in the near future.

Defining Ownership

To stimulate a common understanding of the concept of ownership across disciplines, we opened the workshop with an interactive forum that challenged participants to define ownership in their own terms. One key theme that emerged from this session was the question whether the terms ownership and possession may be used interchangeably as it is often the case in the current literature or whether they describe fundamentally different ideas. A summary of all raised thoughts on this question will be available to download from [HERE].


Opening Forum: Defining Ownership

Perspectives on Ownership

Two keynote talks titled “Perspectives on Ownership” illustrated the broader meaning of ownership in contemporary society. In the first perspectives session, psychologist Floyd Rudmin from the University of Tromsø provided the audience with a glimpse on the phenomenon through the lens of philosophical psychology, cultural psychology, gender psychology. In the second perspectives session, the topic of ownership was put in relation to the system of property law by Harvard law professor Henry Smith.


Perspectives on Ownership I: Floyd Rudmin on Ownership in Philosophical, Cultural and Gender Psychology

The Future of Ownership

The official part of the workshop ended with a closing forum that dared the participants to critically think about a number of key trends and questions that emerged over the two-day event and were deemed crucial in determining the path of ownership research. The forum covered a diverse set of topics including the valid discussion on the dark side of ownership, the challenge of disentangling collective and individual ownership, the issue of a unified measurement as well as the impact of societal and technological developments on the concept. A full summary of identified key trends and issues will be available to download from [HERE].


Closing Forum: The Future of Ownership Research

Social Highlights

Beyond the official part of the workshop, the organizing committee made sure that participants could also take ownership of their experience in beautiful Vienna. From an authentic Austrian dinner at a typical Viennese Heuriger to the customization of their very own burgers at to the final dinner on Saturday night – inspiring debates were continuously accompanying the professional and intimate atmosphere.


Saturday’s Dinner


At this point we would like to thank our sponsors, the Society for Consumer Psychology (SCP), the International Association for Research in Economic Psychology (IAREP), the Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics (SABE), the Austrian Research Society as well as WKO for their support in funding the organization of this workshop as well as 5 international PhD travel scholarships, which were received by the following participants:

SCP – Society for Consumer Psychology scholarships:

  • Jin Seok Pyone, from the University of Kansas
  • Martin P. Fritze, from the University of Rostock
  • Esther Martos, from the Charles University in Prague

SABE – Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics scholarship:

  • Shohei Yamamoto, from the Pompeu Fabra University

And the joint SABE & IAREP – International Association for Research in Economic Psychology scholarship:

  • Nathan M. Maddix, from Harvard Business School


Organizing Team

  • Bernadette Kamleitner, WU Vienna
  • Monika Koller, WU Vienna
  • Stephan Dickert, Queen Mary University of London
  • Joann Peck, University of Wisconsin-Madison