Dieter Zapf, Ståle Einarsen, Helge Hoel and Maarit Vartia
This chapter aims at summarising some descriptive empirical findings of bullying in the workplace. We will start with the frequency and the duration of bullying, the number, gender and status of bullies and victims, distribution of bullying across branches and the use of various categories of bullying. The empirical basis of this chapter is restricted to studies carried out in Europe.
The phenomenon of bullying, which includes being exposed to persistent insults or offensive remarks, persistent criticism, personal or even physical abuse, has been labelled 'mobbing at work' in some Scandinavian and German countries (Leymann, 1996) and 'bullying at work' in many English-speaking countries (Liefooghe and Olafsson, 1999). Typically, a victim is constantly teased, badgered and insulted, and perceives that he or she has little recourse to retaliate in kind. Bullying may take the form of open verbal or physical attacks on the victim, but may also take the form of more subtle acts, such as excluding or isolating the victim from his or her peer group (Einarsen et al., 1994; Leymann, 1996; Zapf et al., 1996). The following definition of bullying or mobbing seems to be widely agreed upon (Einarsen et al., this volume; cf. Einarsen, 2000; Einarsen and Skogstad, 1996; Leymann, 1993b; Zapf, 1999a):
Bullying at work means harassing, offending, socially excluding someone or negatively affecting someone's work tasks. In order for the label bullying (or mobbing) to be applied to a particular activity, interaction or process it has to occur repeatedly and regularly (e.g. weekly) and over a period of time (e.g. about six months). Bullying is an escalating process in the course of which the person confronted ends up in an inferior position and becomes the target of systematic negative social acts. A conflict cannot be called bullying if the incident is an isolated event or if two parties of approximately equal 'strength' are in conflict.
(Einarsen et al., this volume, p. 15)