Preventing and Neutralizing the Escalation of Workplace Bullying. The Role of Conflict Management Climate
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Workplace bullying is, by definition, a gradually escalating process, theorized to occur from psychosocial stressors when there is a lack of management intervention in escalating conflicts, and a lack of fair and robust conflict management procedures in the organization. Based on national probability survey data gathered in 2015–2016 from the official Norwegian employee-register, we investigated how a strong perceived climate for conflict management may buffer the escalation of workplace bullying over time. A total of 1197 respondents participated in the study at two measuring points. The average age at baseline was 45.20 years (SD = 9.98), and the sample consisted of 52.1% women and 47.9% men. Structural equation modelling in Mplus 7.4 was used to test the construct validity and the study’s hypothesis. As expected, the analyses showed that a strong conflict management climate buffered the escalation of workplace bullying. Exposure to bullying behaviour at T1 largely explained (47%) new and increased instances of bullying behaviour at T2, but only for those employees working in what they perceived as a weak conflict management climate. We conclude that a strong conflict management climate neutralizes the escalation and development of workplace bullying.