Linkages among workplace
negative behavioral incidents
Ismatilla Mardanov and John Cherry
Department of Management and Marketing,
Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, USA
Purpose –The purpose of this paper is to provide empirical evidence of the linkages between such negative
workplace behaviors as abusive supervision and coworker bullying (CB)/mobbing; also, the study explores
the linkages between such negative behaviors and work-life outcomes.
Design/methodology/approach –The authors use “negative acts,”abusive supervision, and workplace
bullying/mobbing and develop work-life outcomes scales to test a data set collected from randomly selected
respondents in the Midwest of the USA. The two-stage data collection offsets common method variance.
Findings –The authors find evidence that American supervisors and employees commit negative
behavioral acts rarely. However, the data analyses indicate that many significant relationships exist among
negative acts, abusive supervision, CB/mobbing, and employee well-being.
Research limitations/implications –Companies are reluctant to allow surveying their employees on the
subject of negative acts. Therefore, respondents in this study are a random sample. Many statistically
significant interrelationships were detected.
Practical implications –This study will reinvigorate discussion on workplace negative behaviors,
bullying, and their effects on employee well-being.
Social implications –Addressing and reducing negative workplace behaviors will reduce employee stress
and anxiety and improve the quality of employees’work and life.
Originality/value –The scales were selected and developed, and the data set was constructed specifically
for this study; the interactions of negative acts, abusive supervision, CB and mobbing, and work-life outcomes
are tested together in a workplace scenario for the first time.
Keywords Well-being, Bullying, Mobbing, Abusive supervision, Negative acts
Paper type Research paper
Past research made recommendations for dealing with workplace victimization, not all of
which are covered by current laws. Many managers are not aware of the findings of the
academic research, and in many cases, top management has no means of rooting out
employee abuse by supervisors and coworkers. Reports indicate that in the USA, between
38 and 90 percent of employees have experienced bullying at some point in their work lives
(Glendinning, 2001). The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) indicates that 33 percent of
American employees were bullied by their coworkers in 2014 (Namie, 2014). Insofar as
reports indicate that harassment and victimization exist, research should continue
analyzing and explaining such negative acts.
“Negative acts”refers to abusive behavior that occurs in the workplace –whether it is a
verbal assault or the threat of violence against targets (Einarsen and Höel, 2001). The term
“negative acts”originates from the “Negative Acts Questionnaire”(NAQ) introduced by
these authors and used to measure bullying. Bullying itself is defined as a situation in which
an employee is persistently exposed to negative and aggressive behaviors at work,
primarily of a psychological nature (Leymann, 1996), with the effect of humiliating,
frightening, or punishing the target (Einarsen et al., 2009). In this study, we differentiate
coworker bullying (CB) from group mobbing (GM) because they differ regarding the
severity of humiliation and disorientation. Mobbing is bullying executed by a group of
coworkers that has far graver consequences (Zapf, 1999) for the victim’s well-being. Abusive
supervision is defined as supervisory verbal and non-verbal hostile behaviors, excluding
physical abuse, against subordinates (Tepper, 2000; Lian et al., 2014). We consider negative
Evidence-based HRM: a Global
Forum for Empirical Scholarship
Vol. 6 No. 2, 2018
© Emerald PublishingLimited
Received 23 January 2018
Revised 27 February 2018
Accepted 1 March 2018
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