Workplace Bullying: the Endgame

Fletcher, Susan E. (2015) Workplace Bullying: the Endgame. In: 11th European Conference on Management Leadership and Governance, 12-13th November 2015, Lisbon.

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Research from around the world indicates that workplace bullying is endemic. Evidence suggests that a significant number of managers intimidate, humiliate, oppress and ostracise their subordinates. Why do they do this and how do they get away with it?! The principal aim of this qualitative research is to find out. After identifying a considerable number of ways in which bullying is manifest, the deleterious health consequences for targets are examined: exposure to excessive, prolonged stress can be lethal. At the very least, bullying undermines employee wellbeing and damages the organisational culture. This, in turn, tends to diminish the productivity of the organisation as well as increasing its exposure to litigation. In order to find solutions, it is necessary to acquire deeper insight into the causes of the abusive behaviour. To this end, one possible explanation is postulated through examination of the personality traits and conditioning associated with authoritarian leadership. The author suggests ways in which callous disregard for others can be mitigated by drawing upon the latest psychological research findings. The author also evaluates the sufficiency of the legal protection of employees from bullying, using the UK as a microcosm. It is evident that not enough is being done in the UK to ensure health and safety compliance with regards to protection from intimidating behaviour, although there are some promising initiatives in Europe and the US. Typical internal workplace 'grievance' procedures are also examined and practices which skew the outcome in favour of the employer are identified. The paper concludes by identifying avenues of further research into recruitment, orientation, training and appraisal strategies which might be usefully implemented to encourage ethical leadership. A key objective of this paper is to provoke discussion about the state of play in other countries and share best practice in promoting healthier workplaces.


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Susan Fletcher

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