The significance of organizational factors for the incidence of bullying

Scand J Psychol. 2009 Jun;50(3):267-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2009.00710.x. Epub 2009 Mar 9.


It is frequently assumed that a poor psychosocial working environment will create conditions that encourage bullying. However, few studies have examined this assumption while comparing work environment ratings of bullied and non-bullied employees who work in the same organization and/or department. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between organizational factors and the incidence of acts of bullying based on two different approaches: the first by comparing bullied with no-bullied, the second by comparing departments with widespread bullying with departments with little bullying. The study was a part of a general survey study of the work environment and employee well-being in 12 different local social security offices. A total of 898 persons participated in the study (a response rate of 88%). First, the results showed a clear relationship between bullying and fear of organizational change; secondly, weak, but significant, correlations between bullying and other organizational factors; thirdly, the subsequent analyses compared departments in which bullying were most widespread with the rest of the departments. The results supported the hypothesis that departments that suffer from much bullying also have a poorer psychosocial work environment, results that support the assumption that organizational factors such as changes in one's position, pressure of work, performance demands, autocratic management and role conflict and lack of role clarity, as well as a poor social climate can contribute to the emergence of higher incidences of bullying.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Authoritarianism
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Denmark
  • Dissent and Disputes
  • Dominance-Subordination*
  • Employee Performance Appraisal
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Government Agencies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Security
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult