Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

The Inferences of Gender in Workplace Bullying: A Conceptual Analysis

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

The Inferences of Gender in Workplace Bullying: A Conceptual Analysis

Article excerpt

Many researchers agree that bullying is a frequent occurrence in the workplace (Hoel, 2001; Pietersen, 2007; Cunniff & Mostert, 2012). In a study conducted in 2000 by the Work Dignity Institute, it was found that approximately 77.8% of South Africans had experienced bullying in the workplace. More recently, in 2012, it was found that 31.1% of a sample of 13 911 people had experienced workplace bullying (Cunniff & Mostert, 2012). These statistics make it clear that bullying is a prevalent, contemporaiy issue in the South African workplace, yet awareness of and research into bullying in South Africa is still in its infancy (Pietersen, 2007).

Currently, there is no generally accepted definition of workplace bullying, as such bullying can be described in a number of different ways. First, bullying can be described as a gradually evolving process (Einarsen, 1994). During the early phases, victims are typically subjected to very discreet and indirect bullying behaviour and, later, to more direct, aggressive acts. Bullying may eventually escalate to acts of both physical and psychological violence. Alternatively, workplace bullying can be defined as a type of aggressive behaviour that manifests in interpersonal work relationships, between two individuals or between an individual and a group (Zapf & Einarsen, 2001). Additionally, workplace bullying can be seen as a series of actions, such as harassment, offending, and socially excluding someone at work, that negatively affect individuals' ability to do their job (Rothmann, 2006).

A vast amount of evidence suggests that workplace bullying that arises is intensely gendered but that there are very little research on workplace bullying that provides a satisfactoiy consideration of gender (Hutchison & Eveline, 2010; McGinley, 2007), which highlight the importance to consider workplace bullying from a gender perspective. Gender is a prominent socio-demographic influence in workplace bullying. Women are allowed a narrower band of acceptable behaviour than men, narrower behaviour in which they have to fit in with societal expectation irrespective of the situation they find themselves in (Babcock & Lashever, 2003; Gilbert, Raffo, & Sutarso, 2013). If the behaviour of women deviates from the traditional roles, they tend to be negatively evaluated (Masser & Abrams, 2004), which often result in workplace bullying.

According to the Global Health and Safety Issue, it was found that most perpetrators of bullying were managers, where males formed 62% of bullies, and 58% of the targets were found to be women (Cobb, 2012). Additionally, it was found that female bullies tend to target women in 80% of cases, while male bullies target men in only 55% of cases (Cobb, 2012). However, international research suggests that gender-related experiences of workplace bullying could be countiyspecific (Cortina et al., 2001; Niedhammer, David, & Degioanni, 2007). In a study conducted in Spain, it was found that women experienced considerably more bullying than men (Moreno-Jimenez, 2008). Conversely, in Iceland it was found that men experienced more workplace bullying than women (Olafsson, 2004).

It is clear that workplace bullying is a pertinent issue for the management of people in organisations globally, as bullying and harassment lead to lowered levels of job satisfaction and productivity and can lead to a negative work culture.

Problem statement

The workplace is often construed as fertile ground for democracy. Whereby individuals are selected for their skill and talent, in so doing individuals although familiar with their levels of work are unable to treat one another with respect and professionalism. This paper examines the effects of workplace bullying and the impact of negative work culture in the management of people.

Research questions

The following research questions will be considered:

* What are the types of bullying?

* What are the consequences of bullying? …

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