Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Workplace Bullying: A Perspective from the Job Demands-Resources Model

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Workplace Bullying: A Perspective from the Job Demands-Resources Model

Article excerpt


Recently, an exponential increase of publications has focussed on the Job Demands-Resources model (JD-R model; Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). The JD-R model examines the impact of job characteristics (i.e. job demands and job resources) on workers' impaired (i.e. burnout) and optimal (i.e. work engagement) work-related well-being. To date, the JD-R model has been fruitful in explaining a range of outcomes such as, workers' health and well-being, their attitudes towards the job and their behaviour, amongst others. Therefore, the JD-R model may also be a valuable model to predict the organisations' productivity. The current study aims to add to this line of research by examining the JD-R model's predictive value for a particular form of counterproductive interpersonal behaviour, that is, workplace bullying. Specifically, the current study aims to associate job demands and job resources as detailed in the JD-R model to both the perpetrators' and targets' perspective of workplace bullying (Hoel, Zapf & Cooper, 2002; Matthiesen & Einarsen, 2007).

Reasons for introducing workplace bullying as a possible outcome in the JD-R model are twofold. In view of the JD-R model, to date, a limited number of studies have focussed on counterproductive and/or interpersonal behaviour at work. Yet, over the last decade, organisations have gradually shifted towards jobs in which workers are increasingly interdependent (Grant & Parker, 2009). Consequently, it may be valuable to know whether well-established frameworks, such as the JD-R model, may be successful in understanding (counterproductive) interpersonal behaviour (Hoel et al., 2002). Of particular resonance may then be workplace bullying, which is an indicator of counterproductive interpersonal behaviour at work (Zapf & Einarsen, 2003). Workplace bullying has attracted a growing body of scholarly attention (Einarsen, Matthiesen, & Hauge, 2009) and has been linked to substantial implications for both the employees and the organisation involved (Hoel et al., 2002).

In view of workplace bullying, the literature may clearly benefit from a JD-R approach as perpetrators' and targets' reports of bullying have been associated with a range of job characteristics such as workload and autonomy (Hauge, Skogstad, & Einarsen, 2007; Notelaers, De Witte, & Einarsen, 2010) as well as with work-related strain (Baillien, Neyens, De Witte, & De Cuyper, 2009; Bowling & Beehr, 2006). Firstly, the JD-R model may advance this line of research by modelling the fairly cluttered plethora of job characteristics sampled in previous research. Secondly, the JD-R model may furthermore substantiate from a theoretical point of view how these job characteristics may lead to perpetrators' and targets' reports of bullying through strain.

The Job-Demands Resources model

The JD-R model expands earlier stress models such as the Job Demand Control Model (Karasek, 1979) and the Effort Reward Imbalance Model (Siegrist, 1996). It assumes that a broad set of job characteristics (categorised as job demands or job resources) may influence work related well-being, which in turn relates to individual and organisational outcomes. Job demands (e.g. workload and role conflict) are those aspects of the work context that tax workers' personal capacities. By wearing out workers' energy, job demands associate with psychological and/or physiological costs, such as strain and burnout (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Job demands are therefore said to elicit an energy depleting process. Job resources (e.g. social support and task autonomy) are those aspects of the work context that (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007):

1. reduce job demands and their health-impairing impact

2. are functional in achieving work goals

3. stimulate personal growth, development and learning.

As frequently shown in literature on burnout (Halbesleben & Buckley, 2004), job resources may decrease burnout (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). …

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