Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace
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Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace

Management Challenges and Symptoms

Edited by Janice Langan-Fox, Cary L. Cooper and Richard J. Klimoski

A work exposing and exploring the phenomena of the dysfunctional workplace is long overdue. This fascinating book does just that, uncovering the subversiveness, counter-productive behaviour and unspoken ‘issues’ that managers struggle with on a daily basis.
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Chapter 4: Tyrants and Workplace Bullying

Janice Langan-Fox and Michael Sankey


Janice Langan-Fox and Michael Sankey Bullies and the effects of bullying Bullying is a widespread phenomenon in numerous countries. Studies suggest that as much as 10 per cent of the workforce is bullied (Hoel and Cooper, 2000; Vartia, 1996). Being bullied, then, is a ‘normal’ part of the working day for many people. Workplace bullies play out their ‘foul game’ (Neuberger, 1999) in organizations, engaging in punishment, self-aggrandizement and generally belittling subordinates (Ashforth, 1994). Bullies are especially prevalent in prisons, schools, young offenders’ institutions and the armed forces. Bullies (a type of tyrant) are often ‘leaders’, and have devastating effects on their subordinates, causing tension (Baron, 1988), stress (Myers, 1977), helplessness (Ashforth, 1989), and work alienation (Clarke, 1985), as well as having more general effects on departmental or unit performance (Podsakoff and Schriesheim, 1985). It’s difficult to put a cost on the effects of bullying to organizations because incidence is under-reported. For instance, some employees might not prefer to ‘label’ themselves as bullied by seeking organizational or professional assistance (Salin, 2001). However, given the consequences for individuals by way of stress, absenteeism, turnover, reduced productivity and other inefficiencies resulting from organizational dysfunction, the real cost must be staggering. This chapter aims to document what we know about workplace bullying. We describe the incidence, extent and types of bullying that occur in workplaces, as well as its conceptualization. Second, we review the empirical work that has investigated bullying and what has been found. With...

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