Workplace Bullying: European Pioneers

The concept of workplace bullying has very European roots.


During the 1980s, professor Heinz Leymann of Sweden drew on his experience as a family therapist and began investigating different forms of workplace conflict.  Leymann would use the term “mobbing” to describe the kinds of hostile behaviors that are being directed at workers.  His pioneering research is considered to be among the seminal bodies of work on psychological abuse in the workplace.


Andrea Adams, a British journalist, popularized the term “workplace bullying” in the 1980s and early 1990s, using a series of BBC radio documentaries to bring the topic to a more public audience.  Adams authored what may have been the first book to use “bullying” at work as its operative term, Bullying at Work: How to confront and overcome it (1992).  She wrote that:


Bullying at work is like a malignant cancer.  It creeps up on you long before you – or anyone else – are able to appreciate what it is that is making you feel the ill effects.  Yet despite the fact that the majority of the adult population spends more waking hours at work than anywhere else, the disturbing manifestations of adult bullying, in this particular context, are widely dismissed.


Unfortunately, both Leymann and Adams have passed away.  However, there are websites devoted to their work:


Heinz Leymann

It’s not the fanciest site around, but there’s a lot of useful information:


Andrea Adams

The Andrea Adams Trust is a non-profit organization devoted to continuing the fight against bullying at work:


By comparison, why is it taking America longer to recognize workplace bullying as a threat to individuals and organizations?

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