Workplace bullying: A recommended book list

[Note: In November 2018, I updated and revised this list. Please go here to access that article.] 

What are some of the best books on workplace bullying and psychological abuse at work?

Last week, I followed an informal e-mail thread among advocates for the Healthy Workplace Bill who were discussing what books might belong on a recommended reading list about workplace bullying. The dialogue inspired me to attempt my own list of 20 books on bullying and related topics.

Some of the listed books are expensive and/or hard to find. Further, to keep to 20, I had to leave many fine books off the list. Finally, obviously I couldn’t include the bevy of important journal articles that are “must reading” for those who want to immerse themselves in the relevant literature.

That said, I think this is a good starting place for learning more about workplace bullying and related issues of employment relations.

Here goes (in alphabetical order):

Andrea Adams, with Neil Crawford, Bullying at Work: How to confront and overcome it (1992) — A pioneering work by a BBC journalist whose investigations into workplace bullying helped to launch the anti-bullying movement.

Paul Babiak & Robert D. Hare, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work (2006) — Informative and gruesomely entertaining look at the very worst types of workplace abusers, by two leading experts in psychopathic behavior.

Emily S. Bassman, Abuse in the Workplace: Management Remedies and Bottom Line Impact (1992) — Excellent examination of the organizational costs of emotional abuse at work.

Duncan Chappell & Vittorio Di Martino, Violence at Work (3rd ed., 2006) — Updated edition of an International Labour Organization report on workplace violence, including bullying.

Noa Davenport, Ruth Distler Schwartz & Gail Pursell Elliott, Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace (2002) — Built around the European concept of mobbing and the vitally important work of the late Heinz Leymann.

Richard V. Denenberg & Mark Braverman, The Violence-Prone Workplace: A New Approach to Dealing with Hostile, Threatening, and Uncivil Behavior (1999) — Two experts on workplace violence tie together different forms of aggression at work and offer recommendations for dealing with them.

Stale Einarsen, Helge Hoel, Dieter Zapf & Cary L. Cooper, eds., Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory, Research, and Practice (2nd ed., 2011) — Updated edition of the best one-volume, multidisciplinary, international collection of research and commentary on workplace bullying, with contributions from leading authorities. (Disclosure note: I contributed a chapter on international legal responses to workplace bullying.)

Tim Field, Bully in Sight (1996) — One of the first works on workplace bullying by an early U.K. anti-bullying movement advocate.

Suzi Fox & Paul E. Spector, eds., Counterproductive Work Behavior: Investigations of Actors and Targets (2005) — Very useful collection of chapter contributions that includes considerable research and commentary on bullying.

Robert W. Fuller, All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (2006) — Though not primarily about workplace bullying or employment relations, this book by a physicist and former college president places bullying in the context of the need for a “dignitarian” society.

Marie-France Hirogoyen, Stalking the Soul: Emotional Abuse and the Erosion of Identity (English ed., 2004) — Important analysis of emotional abuse in private lives and in the workplace by a French psychiatrist and therapist.

Randy Hodson, Dignity at Work (2001) — Broad examination of dignity at work, including bullying behaviors, from a sociological perspective.

Harvey Hornstein, Brutal Bosses and Their Prey: How to Identify and Overcome Abuse in the Workplace (1996) — This work by a social psychologist examines bad boss behaviors, with especially relevant research findings and commentary about abusive supervision in the midst of difficult economic times.

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman, Shattered Assumptions: Towards a New Psychology of Trauma (2002) — Although not specifically about workplace bullying, it provides an insightful, easily grasped framework for understanding why severe psychological abuse at work can be so traumatizing.

Gary Namie & Ruth Namie, The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job (2nd ed., 2009) — The latest edition of a seminal work by the individuals most responsible for introducing the concept of workplace bullying to a North American audience. (Disclosure note: I have worked with the Namies and their Workplace Bullying Institute on a pro bono basis for over a decade, and my work is discussed in this book.)

Charlotte Rayner, Helge Hoel & Cary L. Cooper, Workplace Bullying: What we know, who is to blame, and what can we do? (2002) — An important, comparatively early book by three leading scholars on bullying and stress at work.

Peter Schnall, Marnie Dobson & Ellen Rosskam, eds., Unhealthy Work: Causes, Consequences, Cures (2009) — Occupational health experts analyze the psychosocial aspects of work, public health impacts, and possible stakeholder responses.

Robert I. Sutton, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t (2007) — While the title alone guaranteed this book a fair amount of attention, its discussion of incivilities at work is noteworthy in its own right.

Kenneth Westhues, The Envy of Excellence: Administrative Mobbing of High Achieving Professors (2006) — Centers around a masterful and chilling case study of how a well-known theologian was mobbed out of his teaching position, full of insights about individual and organizational behaviors. (Disclosure note: My work is briefly discussed and critiqued in this book, and I contributed a responsive essay to a followup volume.)

Judith Wyatt & Chauncey Hare, Work Abuse: How to Recognize and Survive It (1997) — One of the earliest books about psychological abuse at work, and still valuable.

13 responses

  1. There is a new book out this week called Preventing Workplace Bullying – an evidence-based guide for managers and employees by Carlo Caponecchia and Anne Wyatt. Published in Australia by Allen and Unwin and to be published in March 2011 by Routledge in the UK.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Workplace bullying: A recommended book list « Minding the Workplace --

  3. Our books would also be of interest.
    Van Fleet, D. D. & Van Fleet, E. W. 2010. The Violence Volcano: Reducing the Threat of Workplace Violence. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
    Van Fleet, E.W. & Van Fleet, D.D. 2007. Workplace Survival: Dealing with Bad Bosses, Bad Workers, Bad Jobs. Frederick, MD: PublishAmerica.
    This latter book was summarized by HR expert Kelly L. Nelson as “Workplace Survival” in J. L. Pierce & J. W. Newstrom, The Manager’s Bookshelf. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2011, 183-187.

  4. I also recommend “Horse Sense for People” by Monty Roberts.”Roberts says people, like horses, perform better in environments that “request” rather than “demand” where they are willing partners.
    Central to Roberts’ horse training methods is the complete elimination of physical and emotional violence. He says, “The more you use pain, force and coercion, the more the horse holds back and tries to fight.”
    Roberts admits that applying pain may result in obedience and compliance but says it is ultimately counterproductive as there is no choice. Teaching through partnership allows the freedom to choose and produces a sense of accomplishment that is more productive than force and intimidation.
    Roberts has performed his horse-gentling techniques before hundreds of thousands of people around the world. He says, “Remaining cool and getting out of the punishment business is critical to having an effective relationship with horses and children.”
    According to a reviewer on Amazon.
    Paperback: 256 pages
    Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); 1st edition (May 28, 2002 ISBN-10: 0142000973
    ISBN-13: 978-0142000977

  5. Excellent site. While not currently being ‘bullied’ (unemployed and single) I am devoted to the subject of abuse, specifically by those in power. Abuse of power in marriage, family, schools, workplace, MSM, and government. I think most people have an idea the havoc the schoolyard bully can create. That goes too for our Executive and Legislative branches of government, the media and their politicking; we tune them out, vote them out and get the same response. Marriage, family, and workplace abuse can be trickier and we simply cannot legislate behavior. My own hot button is the 3rd branch local everyday judicial abuse; the majority is left unchecked and unaccountable (to both citizens and the law) in courtrooms across America everyday. Nuf said.

    I want to bring your attention to another great author who has worked with this subject for years. Patricia Evans of EICI Communications and author of Controlling People. I would highly recommend her. (Also googling ‘verbal abuse’ should take you to her website.)

    Having just found your site, poked around bit, I had to stop and write. I wholeheartedly agree that labels are important. The distinction that I would add is that labels be applied directly to the behavior perpetrated by the bully and Patricia Evans does a nice job in classifying the tactics used by these scoundrels. Often times no one has ever called them out on the specific behavior and Evan’s work has shown that with some of these characters once confronted, specifically defining the behavior they are shocked and open to change. Sometimes. The remainder … well – Snakes in Suits and Dr. Hare has done some amazing work in ‘that’ field. I personally have come to believe that those behaviors if called out and subsequently stop as a result of the bully becoming aware then life gets better for everyone. If called out and the abuse continues, turns more covert and harder to nail down, then you are dealing with something beyond the majority of most people’s comprehension, but nevertheless, very important to be aware of and run from possible and/or needed. It is all manipulative and meant to achieve an outcome of some type and important to be able to recognize with focused labels on behavior rather than the person.

    David, if you would like to email me for a brief description of the tactics Patricia has defined which I summarized for my own personal use with her permission and appropriate credit, I would be happy to share that with you. (I believe that is legal.) Thereafter, you could contact her directly should you decide to share it with your readers and peers. She is very open and sharing and has recommended some of the books you have listed which I have read. For me personally I can say her work spoke to me the loudest strictly because of the defining and labeling of behaviors. (Actually I experienced many ‘duh!!” moments – it was so simple – and learned a bit about my own (not so great) reaction. All good to know and easily understood.

    Again, I think this site is great and anyone who stumbles in here will benefit as bullies don’t seem to grow up, often they get better at their game. The higher the education, social, and economic status (position of power over) the trickier they become as there is so much more to lose. At the very least, learning to identify the tactics of all the powers that want to control is a step in the right direction for those who do not abuse others to speak up and out (while we still can;))

    Label on!

    Thank you,

  6. thankyou. I will be looking for these books. I am being bullied to the extreme , but fighting back. The managers (|I work for the government) are most brutal……Everyone is afraid to speak up, because they will be targeted , like I am……Even the Union is afraid of them……I am not!
    The worst they can do is kill me……Then I will be with the Lord. lol So I continue to speak the truth of their harsh treatment, lies and abuses…….I will fight to the end…..

  7. I wondered if you had heard of NZ author, Andrea Needham, who was one of the first to discuss the topic in her book, “Workplace Bullying: A Costly Workplace Secret”? (2004) It was the first book I found that remotely addressed the behaviours of my bullies.

  8. Workplace Bullying is hell. Our state government here in the Commonwealth of Virginia has it down to a science. Bullying techniques from our state government is executed all over Virginia in every district. Goverment schools, especially, have a bullying environment whereby Administrators target individual teachers. I do not know why I am surprised about Virginia, the state of segregation and Jim Crow. Human nature does not change. The bullies simply go after another defenceless target that has no legal protection. After Civil Rights, minorities are protected. But, those not in a legally protective class are targets for any sociopathic boss, and management of our state government supports these types. Very sad indeed. I have written to State Legislators. Nothing is changing here in Virginia.

    Bella.. please do not use my last name.

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