Reporting on Orlando: Ståle Einarsen’s four suggested focal points for workplace bullying research

Ståle Einarsen, psychology professor at the University of Bergen and one of the world’s leading authorities on workplace bullying, presented a tutorial workshop on research trends related to workplace bullying at the just-concluded “Work, Stress, and Health” conference in Orlando.

Einarsen identified four focal points that should guide our research and understanding:

First, we need to focus on legal interventions and the role of the law in preventing and responding to bullying at work, including designing effective anti-bullying laws and working towards their implementation.

Second, we need to strengthen our focus on witnesses to workplace bullying and on coping processes employed by people who have been bullied.

Third, we need better data on the specific individual consequences of workplace bullying, in addition to the aggregate data we have on bullying generally.

Finally, we need to acknowledge the confusion caused by the plethora of terms used to label these behaviors, including workplace bullying, mobbing, psychological harassment, and so on.

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Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

In addition to his many publications, Einarsen is co-editor, with Helge Hoel, Dieter Zapf & Cary L. Cooper, of Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory, Research, and Practice (2nd ed., 2011), the best one-volume, multidisciplinary, international collection of research and commentary on workplace bullying, with contributions from leading authorities.

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Work, Stress, and Health conference

I’ll be devoting several blog posts to the biennial “Work, Stress, and Health” conference, co-sponsored by the American Psychological Association (APA), National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), and Society for Occupational Health Psychology (SOHP). This gathering has become, in my opinion, the best North American conference for learning about the latest research on psychological health at work, featuring a multidisciplinary collection of speakers.

The Orlando conference was no exception. In the best way possible, my head was spinning after the array of talks and panels at the conference. All too many professional and academic conferences have a tired, obligatory feeling to them. Not this one. Because of the compelling combination of speakers and topics, the term “cutting-edge” is more than a cliché.

I especially appreciate the “big tent” approach taken by the conference co-sponsors for creating an event that includes and appeals to folks in other professional disciplines, not just psychology. Many conferences claim to be open to multidisciplinary participation; this one actually makes good on it — and I write as a beneficiary of that inclusive philosophy and practice.

Kudos also go to APA conference coordinator Wes Baker, whose unflappable and friendly demeanor makes it easy to underestimate the enormity of organizing this event.

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