LITERATURE REVIEW (continued)
B.B.C. online reporter Bill Wilson was already calling workplace bullying “widespread” in 2004 and cited statistics from University of Manchester Institution of Science and Technology research: “Of 5,300 employees in 70 organizations, 47% reported witnessing bullying over a five-year-period… One in 10 said they had been bullied in the previous six months and 1 in 4 said they had been bullied since 1995.”
Research findings of the “Ban Bullying at Work” campaign and the Chartered Management Institute were posted by Management Issues (online). They conducted workplace bullying surveys with over 500 senior managers across the U.K. and learned, “Poor management skills have been blamed for the epidemic of workplace bullying…
“Other factors mentioned included unrealistic targets (27%) and failure to address incidents (37%). Asked what form bullying took, 7 out of 10 managers mentioned misuse of power, two-thirds cited overbearing supervision and more than half (55%) cited exclusion” (Amble, 2007).
Wikipedia cites the 2005 University of Surrey U.K research of psychologists Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon. Board and Fritzon interviewed and personality tested high-level British executives to compare their profiles with those of criminal psychiatric patients at the U.K.’s Broadmoor Hospital.
Board & Fritzon found 3 of 11 personality disorders more common in managers than in the disturbed criminals: histrionic personality disorder, characterized by superficial charm, insincerity, egocentricity and manipulation; narcissistic personality disorder, traits of which are grandiosity, self-focused lack of empathy for others, exploitativeness, and independence; and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, which includes perfectionism, excessive devotion to work, rigidity, stubbornness and dictatorial tendencies (Board & Fritzon, as cited by Wikipedia).
Is it possible to infer from such findings that “successful psychopaths” are those who can carve their niches within conventional business structures, while “unsuccessful psychopaths” are those who cannot?
While the generic business manager is a popular subject of workplace bullying research, workplace-specific bullying research was less unusual than expected.
Bloisi’s research on “abusive work practices and bullying among chefs” (2007), states “evidence from the literature suggests abuse may be an expected part of the culture of a commercial kitchen… supported by both historical and social structures including education and training systems.”
Another profession-specific area – to be revisited later – is the nursing / medical environment, as Vickers indicated (while her focus was on the public sector, her treatment location was a public hospital).
Profession-specific concerns were also cited within the information technology (I.T.) sector, where “bullying is an issue because of project work and tight deadlines… Also, the people with the best technical skills are not always the managers with the best people skills” (Goodwin, 2007).
IDENTIFYING WORKPLACE BULLYING
Lists and signs of workplace bullying are available through a variety of websites – Bill Wilson offers these in his B.B.C. News article (2004): “Constant and trivial criticism; contributions not recognized; treated differently from group; shouted at and threatened; marginalized, belittled and ignored; having your actions distorted; isolated and excluded; humiliated, abused or embarrassed; overloaded with responsibility; given trivial tasks or no work; unrealistic or changing goals; being denied adequate leave; being coerced into leaving job.”
Who are the bullies? Many articles feature the infamous “boss” as perpetrator, especially the “glib and charming” psychopath boss (Deutschmann, 2005). However, Barker (2007, p. 267) sees more – she states “upward bullying” can occur when upper level managers rely upon support staff uniquely in possession of essential skills or knowledge to see the work through. If one considers power a “multidirectional construct [with] varying sources,” then one must rethink the “prevailing supposition in the workplace that power predominantly relates to a person’s formal authority.” Baker also cites Keashly and Jagatic (2003), who suggest “power can be defined as ‘a process of dependency,'” which then opens yet another dimension of movement – “horizontal bullying.”
Returning to profession-specific research, Curtis analyzed “horizontal violence,” which she defines as “bullying and aggression involving inter-group conflict” (Curtis, 2007 abstract). Using “a questionnaire to investigate 152 second and third year nursing students’ experiences of horizontal violence (either directly experienced or witnessed),” Curtis identified five major themes: humiliation and lack of respect; powerlessness and becoming invisible; hierarchical nature of horizontal violence; coping strategies; and future employment choices (2007 abstract).
Curtis found horizontal violence to be “a significant issue confronting the nursing profession both in Australia and internationally… more than half of the sample indicated they had experienced or witnessed horizontal violence” and 51% of the total sample indicated it impacted their future career and / or employment choices (2007 abstract).
END of Part 2
To read more, go to
Workplace Bullying: Hidden in Plain Sight – Part 1 of 3 or
Workplace Bullying: Hidden in Plain Sight – Part 3 of 3
BIBLIOGRAPHY for Part 2
Amble, B. (2007). Managers blame themselves for workplace bullying. Management Issues website. Retrieved January 23, 2008 from http://www.management-issues.com/2007/8/28/research/managers-blame-themselves-for-workplace-bullying.asp
Bloisi, W. (2007). Abusive work practices and bullying among chefs: A review of the literature. International Journal of Hospitality Management. Retrieved February 2, 2008 from Grand Valley State University database.
Curtis, J. (2007). You have no credibility: Nursing students’ experiences of horizontal violence (author abstract). Nurse Education in Practice 7.3 (May 2007): p. 156(8). Retrieved February 24, 2008 from AcademicOneFile. Gale. Grand Valley State University database.
Deutschman, A. (2005). Is your boss a psychopath? Fast Company; July 2005; 96. Retrieved April 19, 2008 from ABI / INFORM Global pg. 44, Grand Valley State University database.
Gage, C.A. (2008). [Original college research paper.]
Gage, C.A. (2008). Workplace Bullying: Hidden in Plain Sight – Research and Citations [original AC article published in one part].
Goodwin, B. Union investigates bullying in IT industry. Computer Weekly. Sutton: Sep 4, 2007. pg. 42, 1 pg. Retrieved April 19, 2008 from ProQuest, Grand Valley State University database.
Keashly, L. (2003), as cited by Barker, M. (2007). Managers in the firing line: contributing factors to workplace bullying by staff – an interview study. Journal of Management & Organization. 13: 264-281. Retrieved February 2, 2008 from Grand Valley State University database.
Wikipedia (2008). Bullying and personality disorders. Retrieved April 23, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workplace_bullying#Bullying_and_personality_disorders
Wilson, B. (2004). Workplace bullying: a growing problem. B.B.C. Online. Retrieved January 23, 2008 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/3442331.stm.