Organisations and Bullying: The Role of Attributions
Business and Law
Workplaces bullying has become a significant topic of management research in recent years. This paper follows a study of bullying in the public sector, examining the multiple perspectives of victim, alleged bully, bystander and HR or other senior managers, in which the notion of a bully as an antisocial perpetrator abusing power over an innocent, less powerful victim appeared simplistic in many ways. To investigate the processes by which people come to be identified as bully or victim, this paper uses Attribution Theory. Propositions concerning the processes by which such attributions are formed are presented as preliminaries to future research. We conclude that identifying individuals as bully or victim is a complicated process, and that greater appreciation of the logic of interpersonal relations would assist both researchers and managers interested in reducing bullying, and discuss the organisational implications.