Chapter

“Me? A Bully?”: The Different Faces of the Perpetrator in Workplace Bullying

Authors:
  • Massey University Albany
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Thesis
Full-text available
Psychopathic personality traits have been identified in research on criminal and noncriminal samples (Hare, 2003; Babiak, Hare, & Neumann, 2010). A large body of research exists on criminal psychopathy; however, limited empirical understanding has emerged for noncriminal psychopathy. It is unknown whether the empirical knowledge on criminal psychopathy is generalisable to psychopathic personality in the broader community (Gao & Raine, 2010). The current thesis sought to address the lack of research on psychopathy outside of the correctional setting (Hall & Benning, 2006; Skeem, Polaschek, Patrick, & Lilienfeld, 2011). The present research aimed to develop a greater understanding of psychopathic traits across specific populations, incorporating three samples. These were a noncriminal community based sample (n = 115), criminal sample of community based probation and parole offenders (n = 44) and business sample consisting of working professionals and students completing a Master of Business Administration Degree (n = 60). Available at: https://pure.bond.edu.au/ws/portalfiles/portal/17512266/understanding_the_manifestation_of_psychopathic_personality_characteristics.pdf
Article
Full-text available
Workplace cyberbullying is becoming an increasingly relevant issue, but due to a lack of consensus on conceptualisation, little can be said about its prevalence and management. To this end, the present study engaged 20 subject-matter experts from New Zealand - including academics and practitioners - in a discussion around the topic. Previous research has highlighted the lack of domain specialists' views in the workplace bullying literature, as well as the practical value to be gained from their knowledge. This study's findings indicate contrasting views of academics and practitioners around measurement and management; reflecting the natur e and demands of these experts' professions. However, both groups were in agreeance on the particularly damaging nature of workplace cyberbullying as well as the predicted increase of this phenomenon in the near future. The study discusses the findings' implications for the measurement of workplace cyberbullying, and the value of adopting the work environment perspective. Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, 33(2).
Article
Full-text available
The findings from the first, qualitative stage of a larger sequential mixed method study of bullying in the Australian nursing workplace are reported. Interviews with twenty-six nurses, recruited from two health care organizations, were analysed using the constant comparative method. Participants described informal organizational networks as the mechanism through which predatory, cooperative, and planned group bullying acts were promulgated. These predatory alliances enabled the co-option of legitimate organizational systems, the concealment of bullying, and the protection and promotion of perpetrators. By identifying the manner in which workplace bullying can be embedded within informal organizational networks, this research has important implications for further research in this field.
Article
Full-text available
Background: The negative effects of in-person workplace bullying (WB) are well established. Less is known about cyber-bullying (CB), in which negative behaviours are mediated by technology. Drawing on the conservation of resources theory, the current research examined how individual and organisational factors were related to WB and CB at two time points three months apart. Methods: Data were collected by means of an online self-report survey. Eight hundred and twenty-six respondents (58% female, 42% male) provided data at both time points. Results: One hundred and twenty-three (15%) of participants had been bullied and 23 (2.8%) of participants had been cyber-bullied within the last six months. Women reported more WB, but not more CB, than men. Worse physical health, higher strain, more destructive leadership, more team conflict and less effective organisational strategies were associated with more WB. Managerial employees experienced more CB than non-managerial employees. Poor physical health, less organisational support and less effective organisational strategies were associated with more CB. Conclusion: Rates of CB were lower than those of WB, and very few participants reported experiencing CB without also experiencing WB. Both forms of bullying were associated with poorer work environments, indicating that, where bullying is occurring, the focus should be on organisational systems and processes.
Article
Full-text available
Workplace bullying has increasingly become of interest to scholars and practicing managers due to its creation of dysfunctional intraorganizational conflict and its negative effects on employees and the workplace. Although studies have explored bullying in different cultural contexts, little research exists that provides a comparison of bullying behaviors across cultural dimensions. This article describes a new research agenda that analyzes the impact of specific cultural dimensions— assertiveness, in-group collectivism, and power distance—on organizational bullying. An expanded categorization of bullying prevalence and form is also proposed, with implications for both future research and organizational practice provided. Frameworks for conceptualizing bullying typically include theory and empirical studies that outline traits (of both bullies and their targets) and situations (such as leadership style and organizational factors) that influence the prevalence of organizational bullying. For example, Einarsen et al. (2003: 21) designate a bullying process model that identifies multiple levels of explanatory factors of and reactions/responses to bullying. In fact, they describe bullying as a " multicausal social phenomenon " that includes " cultural and socioeconomical factors. " Unfortunately, while many bullying frameworks identify both micro-and macro-level antecedents of bullying (e.g. Einarsen et al., 2003; Harvey et al., 2009; Moayed et al., 2006), few have attempted to describe, in detail, the vast influence that national culture may have on organizational bullying behaviors. Whether bullying is a function of the individual or the situation has not been fully determined. Personality variables may play an important role in the prediction of bullying (e.g. the " highly aggressive " bully: Matthiesen and Einarsen, 2007; the " authoritarian " personality: Adorno et al.,
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Workplace bullying is an occupational hazard for trainee doctors. However, little is known about their experiences of cyberbullying at work. This study examines the impact of cyberbullying among trainee doctors, and how attributions of blame for cyberbullying influence individual and work-related outcomes.Methods Doctors at over 6 months into training were asked to complete an online survey that included measures of cyberbullying, blame attribution, negative emotion, job satisfaction, interactional justice and mental strain. A total of 158 trainee doctors (104 women, 54 men) completed the survey.ResultsOverall, 73 (46.2%) respondents had experienced at least one act of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying adversely impacted on job satisfaction (β = − 0.19; p < 0.05) and mental strain (β = 0.22; p < 0.001), although attributions of blame for the cyberbullying influenced its impact and the path of mediation. Negative emotion mediated the relationship between self-blame for a cyber-bullying act and mental strain, whereas interactional injustice mediated the association between blaming the perpetrator and job dissatisfaction.Conclusions Acts of cyberbullying had been experienced by nearly half of the sample during their training and were found to significantly relate to ill health and job dissatisfaction. The deleterious impact of cyberbullying can be addressed through both workplace policies, and training for trainee doctors and experienced medical professionals.
Article
Full-text available
To understand current Chinese culture and managerial practices requires an appreciation and understanding of important Chinese historical figures and philosophical orientations. Important historical figures such as Confucius and Mencius, Sun Tzu and Sun Pin, Lao Tzu, and others are discussed, along with cultural values such as guanxi, dao, dé, li, and ren. This paper provides insight into the major figures and philosophies which have shaped current Chinese cultural values and provides a deeper understanding of why the Chinese have adopted their unique management style.
Article
Full-text available
Many of the recent corruption scandals at formerly venerated organizations such as Enron, WorldCom, and Parmalat have some noteworthy features in common. In most instances, the fraudulent acts involved knowing cooperation among numerous employees who were upstanding community members, givers to charity, and caring parents—far removed from the prototypical image of a criminal. The involvement of such individuals in corrupt acts, and the persistence of the acts over time, is both disturbing and puzzling. We argue that the above phenomenon can be explained in part by the rationalization tactics used by individuals committing unethical or fraudulent acts. Rationalizations are mental strategies that allow employees (and others around them) to view their corrupt acts as justified. Employees may collectively use rationalizations to neutralize any regrets or negative feelings that emanate from their participation in unethical acts. Further, rationalizations are often accompanied by socialization tactics through which newcomers entering corrupt units are induced to accept and practice the ongoing unethical acts and their associated rationalizations. We describe the different forms of rationalization and socialization tactics and the ways in which firms can prevent or reverse their occurrence among employees. The onset of these two tactics can establish enduring corruption in organizations and become institutionalized in seemingly innocuous processes.
Article
Full-text available
Stressful working environments are often assumed to create conditions that may lead to bullying. However, few studies have investigated how factors experienced in the work environment may trigger perpetrators to engage in bullying of others. Drawing on Spector and Fox's (2005) stressor-emotion model of counterproductive work behaviour, the present study investigated the predictive effects of both individual and situational factors as predictors of being a perpetrator of workplace bullying, as applied to a representative sample of the Norwegian workforce (N=2359). Results from logistic regression analysis show that being oneself a target of bullying, regardless of the frequency, and being male strongly predicted involvement in bullying of others. Among the situational factors, only role conflict and interpersonal conflicts significantly predicted being a perpetrator of bullying. The present findings support the notion that bullying will thrive in stressful working environments and thus yield an important contribution in identifying antecedent conditions to counteract the development of bullying at workplaces.
Article
Full-text available
This paper contributes to the relatively sparse knowledge about relationships between stressful work environments and bullying. Relationships between job stressors and leadership behaviour were analysed as possible predictors of bullying at work on the basis of the work environment hypothesis, which states that stressful and poorly organized work environments may give rise to conditions resulting in bullying. Analyses of a representative sample (n=2539) of the Norwegian workforce showed role conflict, interpersonal conflicts, and tyrannical and laissez-faire leadership behaviour to be strongly related to bullying, and that the strength of associations to a high degree differed for various measures of bullying. Support was found for an interactive relationship between decision authority and role conflict at different levels of laissez-faire leadership. Not only targets and bully/targets but also bystanders assessed their work environment more negatively than did non-involved employees, while perpetrators of bullying did not differ significantly from non-involved employees as regards their perception of the work environment. Hence, bullying is likely to prevail in stressful working environments characterized by high levels of interpersonal friction and destructive leadership styles. In addition, bullying is particularly prevalent in situations where the immediate supervisor avoids intervening in and managing such stressful situations.
Article
Full-text available
This study explores the micro-level processes sustaining hostile workplace behaviour at the level of interactions between targets and actors. Drawing on Weick's [1995. Sensemaking in Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage] sensemaking theory, the study examined how targets and actors of workplace bullying made sense of each other's behaviours during first occasions of hostility. An analysis of collective biography stories of hostility in academia showed that targets experienced destabilisation of identity, positioned actors as arbiters of adequacy, and engaged in self-undermining. Actors' stories revealed not only moral condemnation of targets, failure to recognise the injury caused, but also precarious emotions, which could have subverted harmful behaviours. Based on these findings, the authors argue that understanding target and actor sensemaking is vital since it appears to contribute to power differentials between the parties from the very onset of hostility, thus allowing it to escalate. The implications for the development of a sensemaking approach to workplace bullying and organisational intervention are discussed.
Article
Full-text available
Exposure to bullying at work is a serious social stressor, having important consequences for the victim, the co-workers, and the whole organization. Bullying can be understood as a multi-causal phenomenon: the result of individual differences between workers, deficiencies in the work environment or an interaction between individual and situational factors. The results of the previous studies confirmed that some characteristics within an individual may predispose to bullying others and/or being bullied. In the present study, we intend to clarify the relationships between workplace bullying considered from the victim’s and the perpetrator’s points of view, the employee Machiavellianism as a personality factor and the perceptions of organizational culture as depicted by Cameron and Quinn. The sample consisted of 117 workers, employed in different organizations in Poland. The empirical data regarding both being exposed to bullying as well as being a perpetrator of bullying were obtained by the use of self-reports from participants. According to the expectations, Machiavellianism predicted involvement in bullying others. The groups of bullies and bully-victims had a higher Machiavellianism level compared to the groups of victims and persons non-involved in bullying. The results showed that being bullied was negatively related to the perceptions of clan and adhocracy cultures and positively related to the perceptions of hierarchy culture. The results of a moderated regression analysis demonstrated that Machiavellianism was a significant moderator of the relationships between the perceptions of adhocracy and hierarchy cultures and being bullied. Theoretical and practical implications of the results were discussed.
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this paper was to present a first step toward developing a behavioral description of managerial bullying that better distinguishes among (1) behavior that is bullying, versus (2) other unacceptable behavior that is not bullying, and (3) aggressive but nevertheless acceptable managerial behavior. The study was based on a survey using SurveyMonkey© and announced through social media (LinkedIn©, Twitter©, Facebook©) groups identified with workplace violence or bullying. The survey consisted of critical incidents of behaviors that employees had specifically identified as “bad management,” plus respondent characteristics that might explain their responses. The results show that workplace bullying in the U.S. workplace is a serious problem that is seldom reported to management. Neither age, gender, experience, language at home, having bullied, nor having been bullied seems to influence what a subject regards as bullying behavior, but negative managerial behavior directed at a particular employee especially in the presence of others is highly likely to be seen as bullying. To develop a theory of managerial bullying, further research needs to be directed toward the causes of workplace bullying, specifically the interaction of elements of the workplace itself as well as characteristics of both the perpetrator and the victim and external influences (workplace, perpetrator, victim, external conditions). Meanwhile, organizations should develop and enforce anti-bullying policies and training programs that use specific behaviors, such as those identified here, to clarify how the organization defines workplace bulling.
Article
Full-text available
Drawing on the general aggression model and theories of victimization and temperamental goodness-of-fit, we investigated trait anger and trait anxiety as antecedents of petty tyranny: employing a multilevel design with data from 84 sea captains and 177 crew members. Leader trait anger predicted subordinate-reported petty tyranny. Subordinate trait anxiety was associated with subordinate-reported petty tyranny. The association between leader trait anger and subordinate-reported petty tyranny was strongest among low trait anger subordinates supporting the theory of temperamental goodness-of-fit—or rather misfit—in dyads. Hence, leader anger-generated petty tyranny seems to constitute itself both as an average leadership style and as behavior targeting specific subordinates, in this case low trait anger subordinates. In addition, anxious subordinates report more exposure to such abusive leadership behaviors irrespective of levels of trait anger in the captain. The practical implications are above all the needs for organizational and individual management of leader trait anger.
Article
Full-text available
In attempting to explain or deal with negative workplace behaviours such as workplace bullying, the notion of ‘workplace psychopaths’ has recently received much attention. Focusing on individual aspects of negative workplace behaviour is at odds with more systemic approaches that recognise the contribution of individual, organisational and societal influences, without seeking to blame a person(s) for their behaviour or personality disorder. Regarding a coworker as a psychopath is highly stigmatising, and given the relatively low prevalence of psychopathy in the community, is likely to be incorrect. Sources promoting the notion of workplace psychopathy provide lists of diagnostic criteria and appear to encourage the perception that it is common. This research examines how lay persons use behavioural criteria consistent with psychopathy and the label ‘psychopath’ in relation to a coworker. 307 Australian workers completed an online survey concerning their experience of workplace bullying, which also asked them to rate a coworker’s behaviour on a range of scales to assess perceptions of psychopathy. Rates of psychopathy, when using labels and behavioural criteria, were found to be much higher than scientific estimates of prevalence, for both participants who had been bullied and those who had not. A higher proportion of non-bullied participants classified a coworker as a psychopath when using the label ‘psychopath’, compared to when using behavioural criteria. The notion that there are psychopaths in every workplace should be treated with caution to ensure that the potential for ‘misdiagnosis’ and stigmatisation do not cause further harm in situations of unacceptable workplace behaviours.
Article
Full-text available
We aimed to investigate (1) the association between job insecurity and workplace bullying from the perspective of both targets and perpetrators and (2) perceived employability as a moderator of these relationships. We argue that job insecurity is associated with social or interpersonal strain as in the case of workplace bullying. Furthermore, workers who feel that they have alternative opportunities for employment may find it easier to cope with insecurity. Stated differently, we aimed to investigate whether the relationship between job insecurity and workplace bullying depended on the level of perceived employability. Hypotheses were tested among 693 workers who participated in a survey on the quality of working life. They were employed at establishments of two Belgian organizations from the textile industry (N=189) and financial services (N=505). We found that that job insecurity was associated with targets' and perpetrators' reports of workplace bullying. The interaction between job insecurity and perceived employability did not contribute to targets' reports of workplace bullying. However, it was related to perpetrators' reports of workplace bullying. Interestingly, the relationship between job insecurity and workplace bullying was stronger under the condition of high versus low employability. This hints at the idea that there could be a “dark side” to employability.
Article
Full-text available
A study of 494 employees nested in workgroups from 19 different organizations revealed group identification to be an important factor influencing work-related bullying at both the individual and the group level. Results show that the more employees identified with their group, the less likely they were victims of bullying, which is in line with previous social identity-based analyses of work stress. More importantly, the higher the average level of group identification in the organization, the lower the odds of being a victim versus not being a victim. The latter effect constituted a genuine context effect. These findings redress a neglect of the social bases of workplace bullying and suggest that bullying needs to be understood within a broader perspective of workgroup identities.
Article
The book advances the nascent concept of depersonalized workplace bullying, highlighting its distinctive features, proposing a theoretical framework and making recommendations for intervention. Furthering insights into depersonalized bullying at work is critical due to the anticipated increased incidence of the phenomenon in the light of the competitive contemporary business economy, which complicates organizational survival. Drawing on two hermeneutic phenomenological inquiries set in India focusing on targets and bullies, the book evidences that depersonalized bullying is a sociostructural entity that resides in an organization’s structural, processual and contextual design. Enacted by supervisors and managers through the engagement of abusive and aggressive behaviours, depersonalized bullying is resorted to in the pursuit of competitive advantage as organizations seek to ensure their continuity and success. Given the instrumentalism associated with the world of work, targets and bullies encountering depersonalized bullying display largely ambivalent responses to their predicament. Ironically, then, organizations’ gains in terms of effectiveness are offset by the strains experienced by these protagonists. The theoretical generalizability of the findings reported in the book facilitates the development of an integrated framework of depersonalized workplace bullying, laying the foundations for forthcoming empirical and measurement endeavours that progress the concept. The book recognizes that whereas primary level interventions mandate repositioning the extra-organizational environment and/or recasting organizational goals to balance business and employee interests, secondary level and tertiary level interventions encompass various types of formal and informal social support to address targets’ and bullies’ interface with depersonalized bullying at work.
Article
To progress our understanding of good practice in the management of workplace bullying, the authors explored the influence of work environment factors on bullying intervention. Analysis of focus group data from public hospitals in New Zealand revealed factors at multiple levels in the work environment system that influenced intervention. Many of these factors have previously been identified as antecedents to bullying, suggesting that the work environment hypothesis can also be applied to the management of workplace bullying experiences.
Article
Purpose Current research provides an incomplete picture of the challenges facing human resource personnel (HRP) tasked with managing a workplace bullying complaint. The purpose of this paper is to provide a holistic model of the complaint management process in order to advance the theorising of HRP’s role in this important process, and the challenges they face in undertaking it. Design/methodology/approach Cases of workplace bullying heard before the legal system were analysed – a novel data source in research on workplace bullying. Thematic analysis was undertaken on the case determinations to identify the challenges HRP faced that prevented the resolution of the complaint. Findings The analysis indicated two key phases in the complaints management process with five associated challenges. The first two challenges were related to HRP’s ability to assess the substance of the complaint. HRP’s ability or inability to “sort out” conflicting accounts and to follow the process saw the complaint follow one of three “resolution pathways”. Three further challenges were associated with HRP communicating the outcome to the complainant. Failure to overcome these challenges left the complainant aggrieved at the unfairness in which their complaint had been handled – triggering legal action. Originality/value This paper draws on a novel data source to provide a holistic model of the complaint management process related to workplace bullying which details the various components and challenges related to HRP throughout the process. Alongside advancing theory, this research has practical value for improving HR practice.
Chapter
Workplace bullying This chapter sets out to examine a phenomenon that has been studied relatively recently: that of workplace bullying. Bullying has been established as a feature of schools and playgrounds for many years (e.g., Burk, 1897) and as such has received considerable attention (e.g., Bernstein & Watson, 1997; Besag, 1989; Olweus, 1983). Contemporary studies of bullying at work have drawn from the original conceptual base in childhood studies and have developed the topic to be applicable to modern-day working situations. Within a decade, research in this topic has grown to a point that it is well established in several countries. Currently, we perceive a turning point at which other more established areas of academic endeavor are now looking at workplace bullying as a phenomenon in order to understand linkages and contribute as a broader academic community to our sense making in this area. The very appearance of this chapter ...
Article
Workplace bullying is a phenomenon that is attracting increasing interest from researchers throughout the Western world. To date, most of the research into workplace bullying has focused on managers and colleagues as the perpetrators of bullying in the workplace. By contrast, little is known about ‘upwards bullying’, where managers are the targets. We argue that in order to more fully understand workplace bullying as a whole, the phenomenon of upwards bullying requires research attention. In the present study, upwards bullying was explored in interviews conducted with 24 managers from public and private organizations, with the data coded and arranged thematically. Results indicate that potential contributing factors towards upwards bullying include the current work environment, change within organizations and power issues. We recommend that organizations identify the occurrence and processes of upwards bullying as important steps in developing comprehensive workplace bullying policies.
Chapter
With the objective of advancing the field of depersonalized bullying at work, two empirical enquiries were undertaken in India. Both studies were rooted in van Manen’s (1998) hermeneutic phenomenology, relied on conversational interviews and included sententious and selective thematic analyses. Study I, looking at targets’ response to depersonalized bullying, explored the experiences of agents working in India’s international-facing call centres. Describing their work environments as oppressive, participants’ narratives highlighted the presence of depersonalized bullying as their superiors resorted to the impersonal and involuntary use of abuse and hostility to realize organizational goals. Participants’ ambivalent reaction to the situation indicated that while they simultaneously valued their professional identity and material returns and rued their oppressive organizational context, they recognized that their gains were limited by but inextricably linked to workplace demands. Participants coped by emphasizing positive aspects of their experiences to reduce their misgivings. Study II, investigating bullies’ response to depersonalized bullying, examined the experiences of managers implementing a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) as part of an organizational change endeavour. Participants whose performance criteria were tied into the successful execution of the VRS reported having no choice but to adopt intimidating and aggressive tactics uniformly across employees as they carried out their task. This engagement with depersonalized bullying precipitated ambivalence in participants. Securing their own position while making others give up theirs through harsh and forceful measures that departed from the earlier congenial organizational culture unleashed professional and personal dilemmas in participants. Nonetheless, being able to contribute to organizational continuity assuaged their discomfort to some extent.
Article
Although the literature on traditional workplace bullying is advancing rapidly, currently investigations addressing workplace cyberbullying are sparse. To counter this, we present three connected research studies framed within dysempowerment theory (Kane, K., & Montgomery, K. (1998). A framework for understanding dysempowerment in organizations. Human Resource Management, 37, 263–275.) which examine the relationship between volume and intensity of cyberbullying experience and individual mental strain and job satisfaction; whether the impact is more negative as compared to traditional bullying; and whether state negative affectivity (NA) and interpersonal justice mediate the relationship. Additionally, we also considered the impact of witnessing cyberbullying acts on individual outcomes. A total sample comprised 331 UK university employees across academic, administrative, research, management and technical roles. Overall, significant relationships between cyberbullying exposure and outcomes emerged, with cyberbullying exposure displaying a stronger negative relationship with job satisfaction when compared to offline bullying. Analysis supported an indirect effect between cyberbullying acts and outcomes via NA and between cyberbullying acts and job satisfaction via interpersonal justice. No support for a serial multiple mediation model of experiencing cyberbullying to justice to NA to outcome was found. Further, perceived intensity of cyberbullying acts and witnessing cyberbullying acts did not significantly relate to negative outcomes. Theoretical and practical implications of the research are discussed.
Article
While workplace bullying often involves multiple perpetrators, limited research has investigated this important aspect of the phenomenon. In the present study, we explored the perceived severity and comparison of actual behaviors experienced when different perpetrators attack the target. Survey results showed that bullying by one’s supervisor is perceived to be more severe than bullying by a group of coworkers and that coworkers are more likely to bully when the supervisor bullies. When working as a group, bullies focus their attack on the target’s personal life rather than on his or her work life. Implications for research and practice are provided.
Article
There has been increased interest in the “dark side” of organizational behavior in recent decades. Workplace bullying, in particular, has received growing attention in the social sciences literature. However, this literature has lacked an integrated approach. More specifically, few studies have investigated causes at levels beyond the individual, such as the group or organization. Extending victim precipitation theory, we present a conceptual model of workplace bullying incorporating factors at the individual-, dyadic-, group-, and organizational-levels. Based on our theoretical model, a number of propositions are offered which emphasize an interactionist, multi-level approach. This approach provides a valuable stepping stone and framework to guide future empirical research. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Article
In the United Kingdom the majority of those reporting being bullied at work claim their manager as ‘the bully’ (Hoel and Beale, 2006). A global phenomenon, workplace bullying is damaging to those involved and hence their organizations (Einarsen et al., 2003), justifying academic attention and a practical need to develop mechanisms that tackle the phenomenon. Bullying is typically a problem ‘owned’ by Human Resource (HR) departments, yet existing evidence suggests that targets perceive HR practitioners (HRPs) as inactive, hence ineffective, in response to claims (Lewis and Rayner, 2003). However, very little is known about how HRPs themselves interpret and respond to claims of bullying. We address this gap, drawing on Bourdieu’s concept of ‘symbolic violence’ to interpret experiential interview data. Our findings suggest HRPs enact symbolic violence on employees who raise claims of bullying against their managers by attributing managerial bullying behaviours to legitimate performance management practices. A critical discourse analysis identified four interpretive mechanisms used by HRPs that served to exonerate managers from bullying behaviours, thereby protecting the interests of the organization at the expense of an employee advocacy role. These data suggest that, rather than being solely a phenomenon perpetrated by individuals, workplace bullying is often a symptom of managerialist and capitalistic discourses of intensified performance management in organizations, reinforced by the embedding of existing professionalization discourses with the field of Human Resource Management in the UK.
Article
This study examined definitions and concepts of cyberbullying. It identified words, terms and definitions used for negative acts on the internet and mobile phones across different age groups in the United Kingdom. Young people and adults' (N = 32; age = 8–54) constructs and perceptions of negative online behaviours were also reported. Focus groups and individual interviews were employed using qualitative triangulation: Thematic Analysis and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The study examined current definitions and concepts of cyberbullying and how these differ in its findings; and considered different ways to foster positive online behaviour for the context of practitioners. The concept of cyber-aggression is used to describe a wide range of behaviours other than cyberbullying. The findings indicate that there is a need to include a broader definition in line with the current trend of a range of behaviours that are common with internet and mobile phone usage.
Article
Research on workplace bullying has primarily been carried out on the basis of the experiences and perspective of the victim. The objective of the present paper is to explore perpetrators' experiences. The analysis is based on qualitative interviews with perpetrators and on theories of interaction and emotions. Four analytical themes are identified: moral classification of victims, emotions, actions and moral justification. The analysis shows how perpetrators classify the victims as violators of basic norms of the work community, how these experienced violations trigger moral emotions such as contempt, anger, vengeance and disgust, and how these emotions are converted into negative actions. The analysis also shows how perpetrators use different types of justification-seeking practice. The results are discussed in relation to the current research. The paper concludes by summing up the results and places them within the interactional dynamics between victims, witnesses and perpetrators, which is the breeding ground of bullying.
Article
In this article, we examine the dynamics of trust in the triadic relationship between HR, employees and managers when dealing with allegations of workplace bullying. Previous research has shown employees to be dissatisfied with HR practitioners' responses to complaints of workplace bullying, and we explore the novel angle of the HR practitioners' perspective through semistructured interviews. Paralleling extant employee accounts, the findings suggest that HR practitioners rarely judge situations as bullying where a manager is accused. Trust between employee, manager and HR practitioner is essential for the successful resolution of bullying claims, yet this study suggests multiple directions of distrust. By virtue of their role alignment and previous experiences of handling bullying, HR practitioners were found to prioritise their relationships with managers, automatically distrusting employees' bullying claims. Despite also distrusting managers to effectively deliver HRM practices, it appears that bullying complaints are ‘too hot to handle’ for HR practitioners given the risks to their relationships with managers.
Article
This study explores some epidemiological features of bullying in Great Britain by means of a large-scale, nationwide survey, focusing on the differences in experience with regard to organizational status. Few differences were found for the experience of self-reported bullying between workers, supervisors, middle, or senior managers. The prevalence of bullying, duration of experience, status of perpetrator, whether the experience was shared with others or not, were similar across these organizational status groups. However, different factors may account for the experience of self-reported bullying for each of the organizational status groups. More discrepancies emerged when the behavioural experience of bullying was compared across groups. Workers and supervisors were more frequently exposed to negative acts than managers. They were also more likely to have been exposed to derogatory or exclusionary behaviour, whereas managers more frequently reported exposure to extreme work pressure. Moreover, when the results were adjusted for the possible impact of gender, a number of discrepancies between the organizational status groups emerged. The interaction between status and gender was explained by reference to cultural differences between men and women, the phenomenon of the ''glass-ceiling'' and the interaction between such factors and the prevailing socio-economic situation.
Article
Given the pioneering role of Scandinavian research in the field of bullying at work, it is surprising that Danish researchers have largely ignored this problem. Presumably, this has led to a situation where many Danish company managers and unions ignore the high individual and organizational costs of workplace bullying. An additional effect of this lack of research is that it has been difficult to estimate the extent to which the prevalence of bullying varies in different sectors of Danish work-life. Furthermore, the scarcity of research has impeded us from determining whether a low prevalence of bullying is a general characteristic of Scandinavian work-life as indicated by previous Swedish and Norwegian studies. Yet again, making such between-nations comparisons in the prevalence of workplace bullying is difficult given the tendency amongst researchers to employ different ways of measuring bullying. The aims of the present study were: (1) to assess the prevalence of bullying in Danish work-life; (2) to investigate if exposure to bullying behaviours at work is related to self-reported psychological and psychosomatic stress symptoms; (3) to examine potential differences in the prevalence of bullying in various work sectors; (4) to explore the hypothesis that, generally, Scandinavian work-life is characterized by low levels of bullying; and (5) to investigate the extent to which using different criteria for assessing bullying results in disparate prevalence estimates. Results showed that 2-4% of the respondents reported being victims of bullying, in most cases only occasionally. Compared to self-reported bullying, prevalence levels based on an operational definition of bullying (i.e., weekly exposure to one act for at least 6 months) were higher in all the samples, between 8% and 25%. When using a more strict criterion of two acts a week, these figures were significantly reduced. Exposure to bullying was found to be associated with increased self-reported strain reactions.
Article
PurposeThe purpose of this study was to examine workplace bullying victims' perceptions of what they heard their bully counterparts say through their use of prosody.DesignFrom a sampling frame of 89 manuscripts referenced in the authors' previous studies, we identified a subset (n = 10) that included quotes regarding bullying victims' perceptions of communication experiences with their bully perpetrators.Methods We used hermeneutics and a recursive metasynthesis to interpret quotes embedded in the manuscripts chosen for this study.FindingsTwo-thirds of language is expressed nonverbally through prosody or “manner of speaking”—rhythm, stress, intonation, and vocabulary choice. We found that as bullies communicated with their intended victims over time, they used prosody across subtle, linked communications, or boldly and openly in public venues, to establish a context-embedded, one-way communication process of “doublespeak.”Conclusions Bullies' confusing prosodic communication processes served to recontexualize victims' situations and, through mechanisms largely unacknowledged by the victims, to subtly demean their personhood, and to shame them and render them voiceless.Clinical relevanceThis study directs formal attention to the language of workplace bullying. Further study might strengthen opportunities to effectively address and curtail the long-term personal, professional, and organizational injuries deriving from workplace bullying.
Article
Drawing from victim precipitation, social comparison, and identity theories, this study develops and tests an integrative model of the victimization of high-performing employees. We examine envy as an explanatory mechanism of the victimization of high performers from fellow group members and propose work group identification as a moderator of this envy mechanism. Study 1, in a sample of 4,874 university staff employees in 339 work groups, supports the proposition that high performers are more likely to be targets of victimization. In Study 2, multisource data collected at 2 time points (217 employees in 67 work groups in 3 organizations), supports the proposition that high performers are more likely to be targets of victimization because of fellow group members' envy, and work group identification mitigates the mediated relationship. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
This article explains who Corporate Psychopaths are, and some of the processes by which they stimulate counterproductive work behaviour among employees. The article hypothesizes that conflict and bullying will be higher, that employee affective well-being will be lower and that frequencies of counterproductive work behaviour will also be higher in the presence of Corporate Psychopaths. Research was conducted among 304 respondents in Britain in 2011, using a psychopathy scale embedded in a self-completion management survey. The article concludes that Corporate Psychopaths have large and significant impacts on conflict and bullying and employee affective well-being; these have large and significant impacts on counterproductive work behaviour. There is no difference between male and female degrees of negative reaction to the presence of managers who are Corporate Psychopaths.
Article
Aggression within the health industry has been widely reported as a serious problem with registered nurses frequently being on the receiving end of physical, verbal and sexual abuse. Some authors have reported aggression is so prevalent nurses accept it as part of their job. What has not been recorded is the impact of workplace aggression on the professional and emotional status of nurses as reported by nurses themselves. This study utilized a phenomenological approach involving in-depth interviews and thematic analysis to gain insights into how 33 nurses responded to workplace aggression. Three shared themes, professional incompetency, expectation to cope and emotional confusion, which encapsulate the meanings conveyed by nurses to being victims of aggression were indentified. The themes serve to remind both individual nurses and the nursing profession as a whole to become more aware of the impact of workplace aggression and its relevance for themselves, their colleagues and the profession. Thus, nurses should be educated through in-service or continuing education programs that admission to negative emotions is acceptable and to develop coping strategies that deal effectively with their feelings of anger or frustration. Perhaps the most important implication emanating from this investigation is that the profession as a whole should become aware of the extent of the problem and the role nurse colleagues, nurse managers and medical staff play in its genesis.
Article
In this exploratory study, we examined the extent to which both workplace bullies and victims possess bully-typifying traits, using a 22-item scale that simultaneously measures perpetrators and targets of negative workplace acts. Participants were 224 Canadian university students aged 18–47 with prior work experience. Bivariate correlational analyses determined that bullying others was positively associated with measures of Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychoticism, aggression, and disinhibition. Being a victim was positively associated with the same Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychoticism, and aggression measures. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that an “alternative dark triad” of Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychoticism related significantly to bullying scores; while psychoticism and Machiavellianism related significantly to victim scores. Aggression and sensation seeking measures failed to account for significant variance in bully or victim scores beyond the triad variables. The vast majority of bullies (89.7%) and many victims (41.7%) were bully/victims, operationally defined as being both perpetrators and targets at least once per week in the last 6 months. Researchers and employers would do well to recognize the presence of bully/victims in their efforts to understand and reduce workplace bullying.
Article
Research on workplace bullying to date has relied predominantly on self‐reports from targets and bystanders, largely ignoring the contributions of other stakeholders such as the alleged perpetrator. This study aims to close this gap by focusing on the perspectives of the alleged perpetrator and examining the background of the bullying allegations, the types of behaviours labelled as bullying and the perpetrator's justification of their behaviours. Twenty‐four managers who were accused of workplace bullying were interviewed for this study, and a thematic analysis of the interview transcripts was undertaken. Many participants reported a highly stressful workplace, including ambiguous roles, staff shortages and high levels of conflict, as well as inappropriate social behaviours being carried out by others in addition to themselves. A number of participants viewed themselves as targets of bullying by their staff, and others defended their behaviour as legitimate performance management.
Article
We interviewed Philip G. Zimbardo on April 19, 2011, in anticipation of the 40th anniversary of the Stanford Prison Experiment in August 2011. While Zimbardo's name is mentioned often in tandem with the experiment, he has distinguished himself in many other areas within psychology before and after the experiment, beginning with an accomplished early career at New York University in which he took interest in social psychology research on deindividuation. We discussed the Stanford Prison Experiment in the greater context of his varied and illustrious career, including recent pioneering work on heroism, the establishment of The Shyness Clinic at Stanford University, and the iconic Discovering Psychology series. We also addressed his adroit and candid approach to the experiment itself over the years.
Article
Although it has been suggested that a poor work environment can be related to the incidence of bullying, little work with robust research designs has been conducted on the matter. By drawing on the concept of hindrance stressors and using a longitudinal research design, we investigated whether role conflict and role ambiguity predicted being a victim of bullying twelve months later, over and above personal vulnerability factors. With a parallel analysis we also investigated whether the same role stressors predicted the enactment of bullying. The sample consisted of 234 employees of a National Health Service agency in Italy, including medical, nursing and administrative staff. The results indicated that role conflict positively affected both being bullied and bullying enactment, with personal vulnerability (reporting a doctor's diagnosis of depression at baseline) affecting only the first of the two outcomes. However, some evidence also emerged of reciprocal relationships between role stressors and bullying. Directions for future research on the relations between working conditions and bullying are discussed.