Why does workplace bullying occur?: assessing multiple predictors of targets' and perpetrators' experiences of workplace bullying

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University of New Brunswick


The main objective of this study was to investigate the relationships between a number of previously identified predictors of targets and perpetrators of workplace bullying. A total of 760 employees from diverse occupations in two unionized public organizations completed a series of questionnaires, including the Negative Acts Questionnaire-Revised (Einarsen, Hoel, & Notelaers, 2009). Thirty-eight percent of the sample were targets and seven percent were perpetrators of workplace bullying on a regular basis over the past year. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses showed that individual characteristics, job characteristics, leadership, organizational culture, and being a perpetrator each significantly predicted the criterion of targets’ experiences of workplace bullying explaining 57% of the variance in the dependent variable. The same variables were examined (with the exception of replacing perpetrator with being a target) in relation to the criterion of perpetrators’ experiences of workplace bullying. Results were significant for all groupings of variables and accounted for a total variance of 32%. Distinct significant predictors for each model are also reported. This study not only provides empirical support that this phenomenon is prevalent in Canada, but also presents parsimonious models for explaining workplace bullying from the perspectives of targets and perpetrators. Contributions, limitations, and future directions are discussed.