6 Chapters
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Chapter Four: Organisations

Sheila White Karnac Books ePub

Introduction

This chapter deviates from the format of the previous chapters to include an extra section, at the beginning, on contextualising bullying. This addition is a description of some of the social, technological, and political contexts in which workplace bullying has taken place in the past and is occurring today. As organisations are not islands cut off from their surroundings but entities which constantly interact across their boundaries with external stakeholders and other influences, the assumption is made that we can better understand the dynamic nature of bullying in our organisations when we acknowledge and understand these evolving contexts.

This additional section is followed by a review of the research on bullying from an organisational perspective. The review begins with explanations of the structural and cultural factors which generate bullying and is followed by descriptions of styles of leadership known to foster dysfunctional employee relationships. A description is give of cyberbullying, taken mainly from research in schools. Models of bullying, illustrating its dynamic nature, are outlined. Theoretical findings are illustrated with examples from research and from anecdotal evidence collated over many years.

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Chapter Three: Groups

Sheila White Karnac Books ePub

Introduction

The aim of this chapter is to show how group dynamics facilitate and moderate the incidence and nature of bullying.

The chapter starts with a review of the research on group behaviour in bullying scenarios. We look at how individuals are received into groups and the factors which influence how well they fit in. We examine the roles taken by group members. These roles are classified in a variety of ways. Most witnesses take a passive stance whilst a few become henchman and assist the bully. Very little support for victims is forthcoming from group members. Some individuals act as scapegoats on behalf of the group and are expelled. Bullying also occurs between groups.

The second part of the chapter presents a variety of theories on the unconscious and subconscious life of groups. The concept of valency is used to explore how individuals fit, or struggle to find their niche, when joining a group. During times of change, the adjustment process can be facilitated by transitional space and transitional objects. Where these are limited, the ability of individuals and groups to find creative responses to challenging situations is curtailed. We return to the theme of recognition, introduced in Chapter Two, to see how the potential for bullying can arise when individuals feel they are prevented from making a positive contribution to the group. Where there is a violation of real, or imaginary, normative expectations, employees struggle for recognition. This gives rise to shame and various related defensive responses. In the places where empathy should be there is, instead, a black hole.

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Chapter Five: A Case Study

Sheila White Karnac Books ePub

The aim in this chapter is to illustrate how some of the key theories of bullying from each of the four main chapters can be used to analyse a case study. This case study is an example of how an organisation, in which bullying was rife under the Former Owner, was transformed by New Management into a thriving enterprise, a market leader in its category, and a much healthier place to work.

The old ownership

The Former Owner of the organisation—a failing engineering company—had, for many years, taken every opportunity to show his contempt for the shop floor workers; for example, he regularly paraded around the factory wielding a cane with which he threatened to strike his staff. Workers were banned from the administrative offices and, in reinforcing the divide between production and administrative staff, he built a second storey especially to house these offices. This emphasised the upstairs–downstairs division. When he observed workers getting together, he regarded them with suspicion. The gathering of two or more workers on the shop floor was forbidden.

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Chapter One: Individuals: Bullies and Victims

Sheila White Karnac Books ePub

Introduction

The aim of this chapter is to present in-depth insights into the motives and behaviours of bullies and victims. We begin with a review of research into bullying and then use psychoanalytical theories to explore the root causes of bullying from an intrapsychic perspective.

The first part of the chapter, the review of the research into bullying, starts with the derivation of the word “bully” and how its meaning has changed over time. Victims’ perceptions of bullying behaviour and how it impacts on them in the short and longer term are described. Then we look at the part played by victims. As there is no consensus on this topic amongst researchers, a range of views is presented, from the victim being a victim by chance to victims lacking resilience as a result of childhood experiences or alternatively being vulnerable because they differ, in some way, from the rest of the group. The behaviour of bullies is described in terms of three key characteristics: aggression, inconsistency, and envy. Key points are illustrated with case-study material.

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Contents

Sheila White Karnac Books ePub

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