Telling a user that he "owns" some corporate data is a very dangerous thing. He might try to exercise "rights" of ownership which could be disastrous to the enterprise and its data. To talk about "ownership of data is tempting, but dangerous. The term "stewardship" may be a better term to use, because it implies a broader responsibility where the user must consider the consequences of making changes over "his" data. Furthermore, data "ownership" may lead to "data hoarding" with possible negative consequences to the organization. This article identifies several specific kinds of ownership or control which people may exercise in an enterprise. It proposes a different kind of stewardship which may be more useful.

"Data ownership" is a seductive term and a concept which is tempting to throw around. It is often employed to generate interest in data, as in the tool vendor speaking to an end user. "You own this data! Don't you want to have access to it?"

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