This research addresses the issues of database ownership and incentives and their impact on information sharing and system performance. Existing research has identified the benefits of centralized control and has formalized the importance of a vested authority setting standards, working towards user transparency, and reducing organization wide data inconsistencies. In practice, however, many centralization and standardization efforts have failed, typically because departments lacked incentives or needed greater local autonomy. Unfortunately, motivational factors have typically eluded formal characterization. Using an "incomplete contracts" approach from economics, it is possible to model the costs and benefits of decentralization, including critical intangible factors. This paper presents normative principles of database decentralization; it derives formulas that give the principles a theoretical underpinning; and it illustrates the application of each principle in actual practice.