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The language and organization of bullying at work

Liefooghe, Andreas and MacKenzie Davey, Kate (2010) The language and organization of bullying at work. Administrative Thoery & Praxis 32 (1), pp. 71-95. ISSN 1084-1806.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.2753/ATP1084-1806320104

Abstract

This article aims to uncover the ways that our understanding of bullying at work has become institutionalized. We argue that this institutionalization has limited our understanding of the ways that bullying is defined, constructed, experienced, resisted, and accounted for in organizations. The research draws on Phillips, Lawrence, and Hardy's Discursive Model of Institutionalization (DMI) when considering various texts about bullying at work and their role in institutionalizing bullying. As a result of doing this, we draw attention away from the dominant perspectives conceptualizing workplace bullying as an individual or interpersonal issue to explore the wider disputes over definitions and the discursive negotiation of what is and is not bullying at work within organizations. We investigate how, through the discursive effects of action, texts of bullying are created, legitimized, embedded in discourse, and institutionalized. However, we highlight that resistance challenges the rights to speak, undermines the rationality of claims, and challenges moral evaluation. We demonstrate that DMI is a useful concept for exploring the processes involved in institutionalizing. We show that bullying at work is a highly complex area where polyphony is important, and we highlight how, through the anchoring in a dominant, individualizing discourse (that usually is taken for granted), workers are produced and reproduced to fit the dominant discourse. We argue that analyzing the texts and discourses of bullying deployed by a broad range of participants at work allows us to observe the processes by which concepts may become institutionalized as well the processes by which they may resist institutionalization.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Business, Economics & Informatics > Organizational Psychology
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 12 May 2011 11:56
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:18
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/2061

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