Last updated November 20, 2015
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Workplace Bullying

Clinical and Organizational Perspectives

In my initial quest for reliable and valid information about bullying, I wanted to examine and perhaps challenge some of the popular opinions about the phenomenon. I was particularly curious about the validity of anecdotal information about victims, perpetrators, and risk environments. Are victims really innocent? Is it true that targets are generally high-functioning, well-adjusted workers who contribute positively to the workplace, or are they workers with performance problems? Are perpetrators always mean and “evil,” or are their actions misunderstood and misinterpreted? Do bullies scan the horizon looking for opportunities to be hurtful to others, or are bullying behaviors merely opportunistic responses to workplace dynamics? Are risk-prone environments highly dysfunctional systems? Are they usually typified by low morale, emotional tyranny, and lack of emotional safety? Can organizational problems be resolved with policy and training, or are there additional dynamics that need attention if the workplace is to remain bully-free? What about legal protections for workers? Are any protections readily available? What laws address the needs of bullied workers, and what else is needed?

This book examines the definition, causes, effects, and prevalence of workplace bullying and mobbing and identifies solutions from a variety of theoretical perspectives. It includes an exploration of the history of the definition and conceptualization of mobbing, its role in high-risk professions, and the personality traits of people who are mobbed and their persecutors. This work also identifies organizational practices related to the risks of mobbing, strategies for prevention, social work’s role, and the role of other clinical disciplines in treating physical and psychological symptoms resulting from mobbing.

I have addressed the need for an integrated framework identifying organizational vulnerabilities and leadership strategies; provided suggestions for victim survival, clinical assessment, and treatment for targets of abuse; and highlighted organizational prevention and best practices for remediation. The laws and public policies currently in place and those in development are examined. Finally, I have explored larger public policy issues and human rights concerns.

To establish the breadth and scope of the problem from a global perspective, citations include research from countries and cultures where literature sources originated. The conclusions of this work provide a basis for social work scholars and practitioners to include this growing social problem as a domain in which to intervene and call for social change.