The Role of Power Paradigms in Organizational Bullying
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This phenomenological qualitative study examined the lived experiences of eleven individuals, hailing from mid-level to large for-profit organizations, who experienced organizational bullying from a victim, observer, or leadership perspective. The primary data collection method utilized in this study was a single in-depth interview from a snowball sampling. The data were coded and analyzed in accordance to the research questions. Three major themes emerged out of the experiences shared by the participants: I) the greater the power distance, the more frequently supervisor-to-employee bullying occurred; II) the smaller the power distance the more frequently peer-to-peer and employee-to-supervisor/manager bullying occurred; III) work environments were seen as more frequently threatening or hostile when the participants perceived they had less power. The researcher analyzed the themes from the participants lived experiences through the lens of adaptive leadership. This study revealed that when there was an increase in perceived power distances, there was an increase in the frequency of top-down organizational bullying, and there was an increase in the frequency of peer-to-peer bullying as well as employee-to-manager bullying when there was the presence of a small perceived power distance. A conclusion to be drawn from these findings is that the more perceived power one feels they possess the more apt they are to exert their perceived power or defend the possession of their perceived power. When perceived-power-holders felt ineffectual or incompetent, they were more likely to disparage, harass, or otherwise bully their subordinate(s). Recommendations are offered for peer-to-peer, employee-to-manager, and manager-to-employee(s) relationships, and workplace cultural improvements and for further research possibilities. Because there are unique dynamics that contribute to organizational bullying, the recommendations should be considered and applied on an individual organizational basis.
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