For example, interpersonal hostility may have deleterious effects on both the job satisfaction and well-being of victims (Mikkelsen and Einarsen, 2001; Tepper 2000; Ashforth 1997; Einarsen and Raknes 1997). What is more, interpersonal hostility may also lead to high costs for organisations, in the form of increased absenteeism and higher turnover of personnel, decreased commitment and productivity, and negative publicity (Hoel, Einarsen and Cooper 2003; Tepper 2000). For society as a whole, this may lead to lower productivity, early retirements and increased health costs. As a consequence, many nations have adopted or are planning to adopt laws promoting dignity at work or banning different forms of work harassment.
Workplace violence and bullying has been identified as a vital concern by trade unions in Britain and in many countries for several years now. As it is, many reports have vividly demonstrated the pain, psychological distress, physical illness and career damage suffered by victims of bullying, however, academic research began only recently. The most developed research comes from Scandinavia (Vartia 1996; Niedl 1996), where there is strong public awareness; government funded research, and established anti-bullying legislation.
Bullying presents significant methodological problems for researchers. A crucial difficulty is that of definition as no clear agreement exists on what constitutes adult bullying. Although physical bullying is seldom reported, the workplace presents opportunities for a wide range of menacing schemes and devices. Five classifications of bullying behaviour have been provided (Rayner & Hoel 1997) -- threat to professional status (belittling opinion, public professional humiliation, accusation of lack of effort); threat to personal standing (name calling, insults, teasing); isolation (preventing access to opportunities such as training, withholding information); overwork (undue pressure to produce work, impossible deadlines, unnecessary disruptions); and destabilisation (failure to give credit when due, meaningless tasks, removal of responsibility, shifting of goal posts).
There have been three main approaches to research into workplace bullying. The first has been qualitative and individualistic in perspective, identifying a role for the individual in terms of vulnerability to bullying or a propensity to bully (Crawford 1997; Lockhart 1997; Randall 1997) and explaining the dynamics of bully-victim relationships. The second approach is descriptive and epidemiological and is usually based on self report. These studies document the prevalence of workplace bullying, the types experienced, age and sex differences, who is told, what action is taken, etc. The third approach is influenced by theories and constructs in organisational psychology and has focused on the interaction between the individual and the organisation and how aspects of the organisational structure and climate of the workplace may encourage the development of a bullying culture (Rayner 1997).
For researchers who