Workplace bullying 2.0: From understanding to action

Not long ago, if we sought to comprehend common bullying behaviors at work, their frequency, and the harm they cause, we’d look to our friends in Europe, Canada, and Australia for published research studies.

Today, work from our international colleagues continues to enrich our understanding, but U.S. researchers have stepped up to produce a growing body of work on bullying, mobbing, and incivility in the American workplace. And if my travels to different conferences featuring poster presentations by graduate students in the midst of dissertations and theses are any indication, there’s a lot more good stuff in the pipeline.

From understanding to action

We must continue to examine the prevalence and effects of workplace bullying. This type of research must be ongoing, and eventually it should provide us with the ability to compare the frequency and variety of bullying behaviors over time.

However, we’re also at a point where we must emphasize evidence-based action by facilitating prevention, intervention, and response. Indeed, a centerpiece of the “workplace bullying 2.0” theme is that we’ve got the evidence to make our case for tackling this problem at all levels, including organizational change, public education, law reform, and mental health counseling.

Of course, work of this nature is underway as I write, but more is needed. We’re much closer to having a finely-tuned set of best practices and policies (public and private) to deal with workplace bullying than we were a decade ago. With the right blend of research, practice, public education, and advocacy, we can reach that desired objective.


This is one of a series of blog posts under the “workplace bullying 2.0″ rubric, exploring the degree to which workplace bullying has become a mainstream topic in American employment relations. Psychology and mental health, the law, human resources and organizational management, and labor studies are among the fields I’ll be examining.

6 responses

  1. Fantastic David,
    You are on my must follow list. Gary Namie sings your praises at WBU. I am working to educate business leaders as to the costs associated with workplace bullying as well as lobbying our provincial government to include bullying in existing occupational health and safety legislation.

  2. Hello David

    I read with great interest your recent article on the need for good intervention for targets (so needed to prevent re-victimization). It has been my experience personal and professional, here in New Zealand, that much work needs to be done in this area; requiring Psychologists (and other health care individuals) who work with this population to have a good grounded understanding of the link between theory and practice. Sadly, much bullying as you have previously alluded too occur in higher educational institutions that teach mental health issues. Getting these teachings into such institutions (or simply getting them to acknowledge they have a problem) is difficult, if there previous methods of intervention has simply been to ‘get rid of the target’.

    • MJ, thank you for sharing your insights on similar challenges in New Zealand. Somehow there needs to be a significant push toward getting workplace bullying front & center before counselors, coaches, and therapists. The lack of awareness, and on occasion sensitivity, toward this problem is significant within the mental health community.

  3. Way to go David, this will be an interesting series for all of us followers of your writings. We did visit our state capital last week with a visit to our senators office to keep them appraised of the Healthy Workplace Bill. The senator was at a budget hearing that day but his assistant was extremely interested. So, we will continue to follow up with them and see if pressure will spark the interest level.

    Looking forward to more,


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