Do we really need another review of the workplace bullying literature? John Collins Candidate: Doctor of Education, UniSA
Overview In the beginning... (the context) My methodology – the Twitter version The dominant discourse of the literature Its common sense & adoption Example / ‘case study’ Conclusion – we do need more reviews of the literature?
In the beginning... Joined state public service, Nov 2003 40 years in the workforce, never aware of bullying Bullied to the point where I thought I was going to die Joining the EdD program in mid-2004 was one of the things to “save” me.
The context So, workplace bullying was a natural choice for study and research... and it follows that I, as a researcher and a (once) target of bullying, am not an impartial bystander
So, how did I come to my methodology? I read widely about workplace bullying and became very familiar with the literature... and reviews of the literature But what I read, again and again, did not reflect (or “capture”) my experience A breakthrough was discovering Norman Fairclough* and a literature around the ideas of power, language, ideology and text. eg ‘Language and Power’, 2001
Institutional Ethnography “ to begin to understand oppression
Institutional Ethnography “ to begin to understand oppression, one must be able to identify and challenge the prevailing problems in otherwise unquestioned, taken for granted, prevailing ways of knowing and acting ” Campbell, 2003
Institutional Ethnography “ to begin to understand oppression, one must be able to identify and challenge the prevailing problems in otherwise unquestioned, taken for granted, prevailing ways of knowing and acting ” Campbell, 2003 “ an IE study identifies an area of local practice and asks ‘ what is happening here? ’ ” Grace, 2005
Coming to the Lit Review A lit review is problematic for an Institutional Ethnographer – the researcher has ‘ position ’ ! Campbell and Gregor 2002 IE becomes a means of expanding people ’ s own knowledge rather than substituting the expert ’ s knowledge for our own. Smith 2005
Starting the Lit Review Reviews of the literature, form part of the literature In general, most lit reviews: don’t adequately cover MY experience very similar – follow a pattern, cite the same authors, make the same general recommendations
Starting the Lit Review Although highly valuable in their own way, many research reports merely confirm, for example, that bullying occurs in this sector or that and agree, or disagree, with other or general findings However there are also bodies of literature which stand out from the pack as ‘different’
An example / case study A 2009 authoritative, commissioned review* of the literature on workplace bullying
An example / case study A 2009 authoritative, commissioned review* of the literature on workplace bullying cites leading authors so as: 1. to dismiss ‘mobbing’ as an alternate term for workplace bullying 2. adopt a particular (for me, problematic) definition * 2009 (confidential), UniSA
Consequences – mobbing A corpus of authoritative research that treats mobbing as significantly different to bullying is overlooked. Valuable insight from the research on mobbing including, importantly, on the ways to treat and prevent both mobbing and bullying, are ‘lost’
Consequences - definition Adopting what the author states as being “possibly the most widely cited (definition) in recent years” again dismisses a body of knowledge that takes issue with one or more aspects of the definition.
Definition adopted In order for the label bullying to be applied to a particular activity it has to occur repeatedly and regularly e.g. weekly and over a period of time e.g. about six months. A conflict cannot be called bullying if the incident is an isolated event... Einarsen, et al. 2003
Ignores, for example Hockley C, UniSA,1999 views of other cited authors (eg: Rayner) REASONS (from the literature) why definitions are sooooo important (eg: Rigby K, UniSA, 2002) and... lived experience
Remember the IE question “What’s going on here?”
‘Other’ literature Academic literature to popular or “institutional” literature Guidelines Policies Media Legislation
Back to our ‘case study’... “it is intuitive that developing policies and procedures... should contribute to improving the workplace” cf: Grogan & Dann “Perfect Policies, Putrid Practices. Workplace bullying in the public sector” UniSA, 2002 Boucaut, R “Workplace bullying: a complex organisational problem” UniSA, 2001
Summary I am partial, I have an agenda My method of inquiry is critical and asks the question, what’s going on here? The academic literature, while valuable, contains an hegemonic master narrative This ‘common sense’ transfers to institutional literature
Conclusion I posed the question: Do we really need another review of the workplace bullying literature? The answer: Yes, of course!
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