New research to be published in the Journal of Management Studies reveals that employees in the US are bullied up to 50% more often than workers in Scandinavia. However, just 9% of employees were aware that the negative acts they experienced constituted bullying, suggesting that bullying behaviour is ingrained in the culture of the US workplace.
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.
Lutgen-Sandvik explains why this study is so significant: "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."
The study concludes that US organizational and cultural structures frequently enable, trigger, and reward bullying. U.S. companies stress market processes, individualism, and the importance of managers over workers, which discourages collaborative efforts and enables powerful organizational members to bully others without recrimination.
Steven Floyd, an editor at JMS says "This paper helps to 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."