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The prospective relationship between role stressors and new cases of self-reported workplace bullying

In line with the “Work environment hypothesis,” role stressors have been proposed as important antecedents of bullying in the workplace. Only a few longitudinal studies on the relationship between role stressors and bullying exist, however, and earlier studies have largely been cross‐sectional. The aim of the present prospective study was to determine whether role stressors at baseline predict new cases of workplace bullying at follow‐up. A total of 2,835 Norwegian employees participated at both baseline and follow‐up, with an interval of two years between the measurements. The study supports the hypotheses that role ambiguity and role conflict, independently, contribute to subsequent new reports of workplace bullying. However, there was a weak reverse effect: reporting being bullied at work at baseline predicted reporting increased levels of role ambiguity and role conflict at follow‐up. Even though the results may indicate a circular relationship between the variables at hand, the weak reverse relationship seems to have little practical impact compared to the stronger relationship from role stressors to bullying. Hence, the results mainly support the hypotheses stating that role ambiguity and role conflict, independently, predict subsequent exposure to workplace bullying.

Reknes, Iselin; Einarsen, Ståle; Knardahl, Stein; Lau, Bjørn
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 55(1): 45–52
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