Workplace Bullying and Mobbing

Workplace Bullying and Mobbing

Workplace bullying and mobbing are global issues and complex worldwide problems (Horvat & Pagon, 2012; Carnero, Martinez, & Sanchez-Mangas, 2012).  No uniform definition exists for bullying (Branch, Ramsay, & Barker, 2013), but many researchers explain bullying as violence where the abuser is on the organizational payroll (Indvik & Johnson, 2012).  Studies showed that approximately 37% of the United Stated workforce reported being bullied at the workplace (Indvik & Johnson; Lovell & Lee, 2011). 

Human beings have the animalistic roots (Arnautovic, 2013).  Human race could be characterized by animal instincts (Arnautovic).  Animals use mobbing to preserve a species, and humans use mobbing to retain power (Arnautovic).  Scientists warned the community about neglected or tolerated mobbing and bullying.  Mobbing and bullying could be harmful for victims and for the entire working environment (Arnautovic).

Bullying and mobbing at workplace have an impact on employees’ health and well-being (Glaso & Notelaers, 2012; Lovell & Lee, 2011).  Bullying and mobbing are the most stressful events (Jenkins, 2011).  Emotional abuse, social undermining, bias, and aggression at the workplace could present serious consequences for victims and organizations (Jenkins).  The organizational status of the perpetrator plays a role in a target’s perception of the severity of bullying.  Bullying may cause potential psychological injury to a target (Jenkins). 

Mobbing does not happen overnight (Constantinescu, 2014).  Four stages of the gradual evolution of mobbing were identified by Constantinescu.  The first stage manifests through differences in opinion and competitiveness.  Healthy competitiveness is beneficial for an organization (Constantinescu).  In the second stage, the situations trigger occurrences of mobbing.  Management has to be involved in the third stage of mobbing.  A victim is often removed from the workplace in the final stage (Constantinescu).  The third and the fourth stages usually do not happen at all, since a victim is removed or legal actions might take place (Constantinescu).  

Workplace bullying is complex because victims often do not fall into a protected class or category.  Namie (2003) pointed out that not all employers offer counseling to complainants who experienced psychological damage and reported bullying.  Civil rights laws protect workers from discriminatory mistreatment, but there is no federal law yet that can protect people from bullying and mobbing at workplace (Namie).  Employers do not face sanctions for ignoring bullying at workplace (Namie). 


Arnautovic, I. (2013). Theoretical aspects in the defining of mobbing (or bullying). Journal for

Labour and Social Affairs in Eastern Europe, 16(2), 193-204. Retrieved from

Branch, S., Ramsay, S., & Barker, M. (2013). Workplace bullying, mobbing and

general harassment: A review. International Journal of Management Reviews, 15, 280-299.


Carnero, M. A., Martinez, B., & Sa’nchez-Mangas, R. (2012). Mobbing and workers’ health:

Empirical analysis for Spain. International Journal of Manpower, 33(3), 322-339.      


Constantinescu, V. (2014). Mobbing: Psychological terror in the workplace. Scientific Research

& Education in the Air Force, 2, 511-514. Retrieved from

Glaso, L., & Notelaers, G. (2012). Workplace bullying, emotions, and outcomes. Violence and

Victims, 27(3), 360-377. doi:10.1891/0886-6708.27.3.360

Horvat, B., & Pagon, M. (2012). Attitudes toward workplace mobbing in Slovenian research

organizations. Organizacija, 45(4), 159-173. doi:10.2478/v10051-012-0018-0

Jenkins, M. (2011). Practice note: Is mediation suitable for complains of workplace bullying?

Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 29(1), 25-38. doi:org/10/1002/crq.21035

Indvik, J., & Johnson, P. R. (2012). Lawsuits walk in on two feet: The bully in the

workplace. Journal of Organizational Culture, Communication and Conflict, 16(2), 73-77.

Retrieved from

Lovell, B. L., & Lee, R. T. (2011). Impact of workplace bullying on emotional and physical

well-being: A longitudinal collective case study. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma,

20, 344-357. doi:10.1080/10926771.2011.554338

Namie, G. (2003, November/December). Workplace bullying: Escalated incivility. Ivey Business

Journal. Retrieved from


Kelley Conrad's picture Kelley Conrad | January 2, 2016 7:38 am MST

Victoria's blog contribution is a valuable and important one.  Bullying and mobbing have become serious issues in the modern workplace.  As IO psychologists we need to be knowledgeable and ready to offer guidance to organizations about both topics.  Salin's (2003) article on "Ways of Explaining Workplace Bullying" is a good place to begin.  Salin introduced a model of the organizational antecedents of bullying that provides us a good framework for thinking about the problem within organizations.  

Salin's model (2003) identified enabling structures, motivating incentives, and triggering circumstances.  Below is a link to a Figure illustrating Salin's model and the components (Salin, p. 1218).

Salin Model of Bullying.docx

Enabling structures are the "fertile ground" where bullying gets its start.  These include percieved power imbalance and low costs.  Also contributing are dissatisfaction and frustratioin.  The motivating structures help us identify those situtations and circumstances where someone would feel bulling was acceptable.  Elements here include the rewards and benefits a bully would see.  These can also include eliminating a "threat" or burden. The last area addresses organizational changes that affect structure, size, work groups, and management.  The interaction of these three components with enabling factors providing the conditions and at least one other of the factors exacerbating it.  

Salin noted because of the different ontological and epistemological assumptions involved the model and research findings are challenging to reconcile and understand.  Salin noted most existing research has been survey based with the result that there is a strong need for qualitative and interpretivisti studies.  If you are looking for a good topic for a dissertation or for a research study, bullying and/or mobbing could be a good choice.


Salin, D. (2003). Ways of explaining workplace bullying: A review of enabling, motivating and precipitating structuress and processes in the work enviornment. Human Relations, 56(10), 1213-1232. Retrieved from ProQuest Central. 

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Victoria Sharak



Journal of Leadership Studies-Symposium Piece-Relational Leadership: Perspectives of Key Constructs on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity in Higher Education

Psychology Today
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American Psychological Association Conference-Utilizing Clinical Hypnotherapeutic Intervention with CBT to Treat Pandemic-Aug. 13-2021 Symptomology

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