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  • Writer's pictureClara Wajngurt

How Does Workplace Bullying Manifest Itself in Higher Education

Updated: Feb 6, 2019

Imagine the following scenarios: 

·        A unit director submits work to a vice president who makes comments that discredit or devalue the work of the director. The vice president criticizes the director, shows a lack of patience, and fails to demonstrate, in a sensitive, professional manner, how to proceed.

·        A committee is asked to review the state of departmental assessment, but the department chair declines to share significant information with the committee and comes to a committee meeting where he denigrates a member for lack of knowledge.

·        A faculty member is given an unreasonable teaching schedule. He is e-mailed his teaching schedule with a note emphasizing that the schedule is not open to discussion.

·        The registrar asks the associate registrar not only to compile student registration figures for each academic department but also to write the enrollment management section of the accreditation report. If the assignment is not completed by next week, the associate registrar is told, he will suffer disciplinary action.

·        The director of grants carefully monitors the professional schedule of the coordinator of grants, imposing restrictive work rules.

·        A faculty member in the professorial ranks makes cruel, insulting comments in public about an untenured faculty member’s psychological problems.

·        In the performance review of a faculty member who is up for promotion, the department chair undermines the faculty member’s professional standing, does not identify reasonable means of improvement, and ignores the faculty member’s contributions to the department.

·        A faculty member believes that she is a target of bias or discrimination in the department. She feels that her professional status is threatened through isolation and obstruction. 

Bullying is an escalating process in which the person who is bullied is in an inferior position. Bullying in the workplace is an act of aggression, and it is associated with high stress levels and lack of collegiality. The bullying employer demeans, humiliates, and intimidates employees as individuals. 

For this blog we will use the  Einarsen, Hoel, Zapf & Cooper, 2005 definition:

Bullying at work means harassing, offending, socially excluding someone or negatively affecting someone’s work tasks…It has to occur repeatedly and regularly.. and over a period of time. It is an escalating process in the course of which the person confronted ends up in an inferior position and becomes the target of systematic, negative social acts.

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