Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Marios Koufaris

Subject Categories

Business | Physiology | Sociology


intellectual property rights, privacy, psychological contracts, social networks


Information assets continue to grow in importance of contribution to economic activity. Many emergent businesses, including Google, Amazon and Facebook, leverage crowd-sourced information assets as essential pillars supporting their business models. The appropriation of rights to information assets is commonly done through legal contracts. In practice this approach often fails to prevent conflicts between the information contributors and the companies claiming information rights. In research presented here I attempt to understand when and why the conflicts arise. I draw on psychological contract theory and I develop the framework of psychological contracts in information exchanges. I propose that intellectual property and privacy expectancies comprise core domains of psychological contracts in information exchanges. The proposed framework predicts that perceived breach of expectancies in relation to intellectual property rights and/or privacy triggers the affective experience of psychological contract violation characterized by feelings of anger and betrayal which undermines the sustainability of information exchanges. I also develop and evaluate a nomological network of antecedents and consequences associated with perceptions of a psychological contract breach in information exchanges. I investigate the effects of psychological ownership of information and privacy concerns as antecedents of perceived breach of intellectual property rights and privacy respectively. I also evaluate the attitudinal and behavioral adjustments which follow the affective experience of psychological contract violation. I examine the effects of psychological contract violation on commitment and cynicism attitudes and I use the exit, voice, loyalty and neglect typology to evaluate the behavioral outcomes which result from psychological contract violations. I evaluate the proposed framework in the context of information exchanges on a social networking site by surveying 598 Facebook users. The empirical data support the core hypotheses in proposed framework and indicate that perceptions of a privacy breach and/or an intellectual property breach trigger the affective experience of a psychological contract violation which is most strongly associated with exit intentions. These findings point to the critical role of psychological contracts in influencing the sustainability of information exchanges and offer a novel theoretical lens for examining sustainability of information exchanges across different contexts.