The study, led by Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, is also one of the first to investigate the impact of bullying on non-bullied employees, and finds that the negative effects are widespread: employees who witness others being bullied suffer secondary harm, reporting high levels of stress, and low levels of work satisfaction.
"Workers suffering on the job and thinking they're 'going crazy' learn that the phenomenon has a name, what it looks like, that it happens to many workers, and potentially, what they might do about it," says Lutgen-Sandvik
The study concludes that US organisational and cultural structures frequently enable, trigger and reward bullying. US companies stress market processes, individualism and the importance of managers over workers, which discourages collaborative efforts and enables powerful organisational members to bully others without recrimination.
Steven Floyd, an editor at JMS says: "This paper helps to bring to the surface a problem that plagues far too many employees and that too few people are willing to speak openly about. It is also an exemplar of top quality academic research that meets the test of relevance."
The study will be published in the September issue of Journal of Management Studies.
Source: 'Burned by Bullying in the American Workplace: Prevalence, Perception, Degree, and Impact'
Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, Sarah J. Tracy and Jess K. Alberts
Journal of Management Studies, September 2007
Review by Joe Gill