Relationships between bullying, psychosocial work environment and individual stress reactions

Mogens Agervold*, Eva Gemzøe Mikkelsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

It is frequently assumed that a poor psychosocial working environment will create conditions that encourage bullying. However, few studies have examined this assumption while comparing work environment ratings of bullied and non-bullied employees who work in the same organization and/or department. The objectives of this study were therefore, first, to investigate relationships between bullying and other psychosocial work environment factors within a particular organizational setting and, second, to investigate if bullied employees reported higher levels of stress than non-bullied employees. A total of 186 blue-collar employees from a Danish manufacturing company participated in the study (response rate of 93%). Results showed significant differences in bullied and non-bullied employees' ratings of psychosocial factors such as job control, management style, role clarity, social climate, social contact and work centrality. In order to investigate assumptions that a poor psychosocial work environment creates conditions that encourage bullying, a number of analyses compared the company's manufacturing departments with either high, medium or low levels of bullying. Results showed significant departmental differences. Yet, when bullied employees were removed from the statistical analyses, with regard to the perceived psychosocial environment these same departments could be differentiated only on the basis of rated job demands and management style. The results therefore bring into question the assumption that a generally poor work environment contributes to bullying. None the less, they do suggest that management style may directly or indirectly have contributed to a higher level of bullying. Also, bullied employees reported significantly more symptoms of psychological stress and mental fatigue than non-bullied employees.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWork and Stress
Volume18
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)336-351
ISSN0267-8373
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1. Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes

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Organizations
Working Poor

Keywords

  • Bullying
  • Emotional abuse
  • Management style
  • Psychosocial work environment
  • Work-related stress

Cite this

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title = "Relationships between bullying, psychosocial work environment and individual stress reactions",
abstract = "It is frequently assumed that a poor psychosocial working environment will create conditions that encourage bullying. However, few studies have examined this assumption while comparing work environment ratings of bullied and non-bullied employees who work in the same organization and/or department. The objectives of this study were therefore, first, to investigate relationships between bullying and other psychosocial work environment factors within a particular organizational setting and, second, to investigate if bullied employees reported higher levels of stress than non-bullied employees. A total of 186 blue-collar employees from a Danish manufacturing company participated in the study (response rate of 93{\%}). Results showed significant differences in bullied and non-bullied employees' ratings of psychosocial factors such as job control, management style, role clarity, social climate, social contact and work centrality. In order to investigate assumptions that a poor psychosocial work environment creates conditions that encourage bullying, a number of analyses compared the company's manufacturing departments with either high, medium or low levels of bullying. Results showed significant departmental differences. Yet, when bullied employees were removed from the statistical analyses, with regard to the perceived psychosocial environment these same departments could be differentiated only on the basis of rated job demands and management style. The results therefore bring into question the assumption that a generally poor work environment contributes to bullying. None the less, they do suggest that management style may directly or indirectly have contributed to a higher level of bullying. Also, bullied employees reported significantly more symptoms of psychological stress and mental fatigue than non-bullied employees.",
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Relationships between bullying, psychosocial work environment and individual stress reactions. / Agervold, Mogens; Mikkelsen, Eva Gemzøe.

In: Work and Stress, Vol. 18, No. 4, 01.10.2004, p. 336-351.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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