Witnesses of U.S. workplace bullying: A phenomenological study of organizational culture, leadership, and unsafe environments

by Ricks, Sabrina Brandon, Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2015, 243 pages; 3712881


Workplace bullying is a phenomenon that has served as a silent destroyer of organizational cultures for many decades and until recently the topic was rarely discussed, nevertheless researched. The study of workplace bullying has become increasingly relevant in society as workplace violence has escalated within commerce around the country. Initially, the focus of research was directed towards learning the perceptions and descriptions of experiences from the victims and even more recently, it has been discovered the witnesses of workplace bullying are affected just as much if not more than the victims directly. Previous studies have revealed that witnesses are afraid within the work environment, experience health related issues, are demotivated, leave the organizations earlier than intended, and fear being the next target of bullying. This phenomenological study includes data from 14 women located throughout the United States who were interviewed over the telephone. Following data collection, the transcriptions were analyzed using the van Kaam method of analysis of phenomenological data. There were nine core themes that emerged during the data analysis. The findings provided an understanding that witnesses observe bullying behaviors, discover an absence of leadership, feel disrespect within the organization, feel helpless in regards to helping the victim, find that bullying remains unresolved, are disappointed, had false expectations, and discovered a lack of policies, procedures, and organizational awareness. Furthermore, witnesses felt they would be the next target of bullying and in many cases, chose to leave the organization. Additionally, witnesses desired to take more actions to help the victim and felt helpless because they were afraid to do or say anything to jeopardize their position within the organization. In formulating a conclusion, the researcher found that witnesses have a need to feel helpful and need direction to safely approach the situation within an organization that recognizes that workplace bullying exists. In order to gain additional benefits to studying witnesses of workplace bullying, future research would include male witnesses or a combination of male and female, examining safe organizations as a benchmark, evaluating subordinate to manager bullying, and understanding the specific health related issues witnesses experience.

AdviserRubye Braye
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Occupational psychology; Labor relations; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3712881

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