Environmental conditions have long been assumed to create climates that can encourage workplace bullying. Although several studies have supported this assumption, the vast majority have applied the individual as the unit of both measurement and analysis. We argue, however, that the appropriate level of inference regarding environmental conditions is the work-group. In a large sample of some 10,000 employees distributed across 685 departments, we tested the hypothesis that leadership practices and the presence of role stressors will predict the incidence of bullying within departments. The results showed leadership practices and role conflict to predict bullying at the departmental level, while role ambiguity did not when taking into account the effects of the other predictors. The robustness of the findings was demonstrated after excluding responses of targets of bullying, still showing leadership practices and role conflict as potent predictors of bullying, supporting the assumption that bullying will be prevalent within unfavorable working environments.

Hauge, Lars Johan; Einarsen, Ståle; Knardahl, Stein; Lau, Bjørn; Notelaers, Guy; Skogstad, Anders
International Journal of Stress Management 18(4): 305–323
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