While being a rather large article, the following is well worth the time to read. I encourage people that have come to this page to take the time to read this and to think about the different points made. It is truly thought provoking.
Ten Choices in Studying Mobbing/Bullying
Kenneth Westhues, Professor of Sociology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada
Paper presented at the Fifth International Conference on Workplace Bullying – Trinity College, Dublin, 15-17 June 2006
Over the past quarter-century, interest has burgeoned in a strange, nonviolent kind of aggression against capable employees in ostensibly rational workplaces: a barrage from managers and/or workmates of hostile communications unattributable to poor work performance but so severe as to sabotage the target’s working life. Outcomes include dismissal, quit, transfer, retirement, physical or mental breakdown, suicide, and rarely, “going postal.”
Heinz Leymann and Tim Field were pioneers in what has become a worldwide campaign to understand, remedy and prevent this distinctly social threat to organizational effectiveness, workers’ health and safety, indeed civilized life. They called the problem by different names. As between mobbing and bullying, Leymann deliberately chose the former, Field the latter. These different names presaged the many related differences in conceptualization, theoretical foundation, measures, research methods, remedies, and preventive strategies apparent in the field today.
Nothing illustrates this variety of viewpoints so well as the wildly diverse estimates of the incidence of the kind of aggression at issue. At the low end, Leymann 1992 said 3.5 percent of Swedish workers were mobbed sometime during their careers, the same estimated incidence on which an Australian study of workplace bullying in 2002 was based, and the same one I usually cite. The 2001 Irish survey found that 7 percent of workers had been bullied. Namie and others estimate that 17 percent of US workers are bullied. Matsui reported last year that 50 percent of Ontario secondary school teachers are bullied. CNN reported in 2004 that two thirds of British workers admit to having been bullied. A British newspaper quotes an 11-year-old saying, “Everybody is bullied once in their lives even teachers and it shouldn’t happen.” The spread between 3.5 and 100 percent suggests gross disparity in what different researchers have in mind.
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