Workplace bullying in New Zealand: A survey of employee perceptions and attitudes

Bullying at work, a severe form of anti-social behaviour, has become an issue of major concern to workers, organisations, unions and governments. It has also received considerable attention in organisational behaviour and human resource management research over the past 20+ years. Research has been conducted on the prevalence of bullying at work and factors which contribute to bullying, but less attention has been accorded to personal coping with bullying and organisational-level responses to counteract bullying. The present paper reports findings from a survey of over 1700 employees of 36 organisations in New Zealand. We describe the reported incidence of bullying at work, along with relevant work attitudes and experiences, including psychological strain, ratings of subjective well-being, and levels of commitment to the organisation. Personal experience of bullying was reported by 17.8% of respondents, and was significantly correlated with higher levels of strain, reduced well-being, reduced commitment to their organisation, and lower self-rated performance. Personal coping strategies were generally unrelated to these outcomes. On the other hand, the perceived effectiveness of organisational efforts to deal with bullying was considered an important contributor to both the occurrence of bullying and reduced negative effects of bullying. Overall, our findings illustrate the importance of developing organisational-level strategies to reduce the incidence of bullying and to counteract its negative impact, rather than expecting individuals to develop personal strategies to cope with this problem.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
O’Driscoll, M.P., Cooper-Thomas, H.D., Catley, B.E., Gardner, D.H. & Trenberth, L. (2011). Workplace bullying in New Zealand: A survey of employee perceptions and attitudes. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 49(4), 390-408.