Workplace bullying in academia
Bullying in academia is a form of workplace bullying which takes places in the institutions of higher education, such as colleges and universities. It is believed to be common, although has not received as much attention from researchers as bullying in some other contexts. Academia is highly competitive and has a well defined hierarchy, with junior staff being particularly vulnerable. Although most universities have policies on workplace bullying, individual campuses develop and implement their own protocols. This often leaves victims with no recourse.
Academic mobbing is a sophisticated form of bullying where academicians gang up to diminish the intended victim through intimidation, unjustified accusations, humiliation, and general harassment. These behaviors are often invisible to others and difficult to prove. Victims of academic mobbing may suffer from stress, depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as posttraumatic stress disorder.
Bullying is the longstanding violence, physical or psychological, conducted by an individual or group and directed against an individual who is not able to defend himself in the actual situation, with a conscious desire to hurt, threaten, or frighten that individual or put him under stress.
Workplace bullying ranges into the following categories.
- Threat to professional status, such as, public professional humiliation, accusation of lack of effort and belittling.
- Threat to social status, such as, teasing and name calling.
- Isolation, such as, withholding information and preventing access to opportunities, such as training workshops, attendance and deadlines.
- Overwork, such as setting impossible deadlines and making unnecessary disruptions.
- Destabilization, for example, setting meaningless tasks, not giving credit where credit is due, removal from positions of authority.
Bullying and academic culture
Several aspects of academia lend themselves to the practice and discourage its reporting and mitigation. Its leadership is usually drawn from the ranks of faculty, most of whom have not received the management training that could enable an effective response to such situations. The perpetrators may possess tenure—a high-status and protected position—or the victims may belong to the increasing number of adjunct professors, who are often part-time employees.
The generally decentralized nature of academic institutions can make it difficult for victims to seek recourse, and appeals to outside authority have been described as "the kiss of death." Therefore, academics who are subject to bullying in workplace are often cautious about reporting any problems. Social media has recently been used to expose or allege bullying in academia anonymously. Bullying research credits an organizational rift in two interdependent and adversarial systems that comprise a larger structure of nearly all colleges and universities worldwide: faculty and administration. While both systems distribute employee power across standardized bureaucracies, administrations favor an ascription-oriented business model with a standardized criteria determining employee rank.
Faculty depend on greater open-ended and improvised standards that determine rank and job retention. The leveraged intradepartmental peer reviews (although often at a later time, these three reviews are believed to be leveraged by the fact the peers determine promotions of one another at later times) of faculty for annual reappointment of tenure-track, tenure, and post-tenure review is believed to offer "unregulated gray area" that nurture the origin of bullying cases in academia. Although tenure and post-tenure review lead to interdepartmental evaluation, and all three culminate in an administrative decision, bullying is commonly a function of administrative input before or during the early stages of intradepartmental review.
Kenneth Westhues' study of mobbing in academia found that vulnerability was increased by personal differences such as being a foreigner or of a different sex; by working in a post-modern field such as music or literature; financial pressure; or having an aggressive superior. Other factors included envy, heresy and campus politics.
The bullying in this workplace has been described as somewhat more subtle than usual. Its recipients may be the target of unwanted physical contact, violence, obscene or loud language during meetings, be disparaged among their colleagues in venues they are not aware of, and face difficulties when seeking promotion. It may also be manifested by undue demands for compliance with regulations.
Victims of academic mobbing may suffer from "stress, depression and suicidal thoughts" as well as posttraumatic stress disorder. The psychological scars have been described as potentially worse than with sexual harassment, and they may not heal for many years.
In 2008 the United Kingdom's University and College Union released the results of a survey taken among its 9,700 members. 51% of respondents said they had never been bullied, 16.7% that they had occasionally experienced it, and 6.7% that they were "always" or "often" subjected to bullying. The results varied by member institutions, with respondents from the University of East London reporting the highest incidence.
The Times Higher Education commissioned a survey in 2005 and received 843 responses. Over 40% reported they had been bullied, with 33% reporting "unwanted physical contact" and 10% reporting physical violence; about 75% reported they were aware that co-workers had been bullied. The incidence rate found in this survey was higher than that usually found via internal polling (12 to 24 percent).
Author C. K. Gunsalus describes the problem as "low incidence, high severity", analogous to research misconduct. She identifies the aggressors' misuse of the concepts of academic freedom and collegiality as a commonly used strategy.
University bullying policies and processes are open to misuse, however, and the AAUP notes that faculty who dissent on academic governance issues or who complain about workplace inequities may become the target for retaliatory bullying complaints aimed to silence unpopular views.
Bullying of medical students
In a 2005 British study, around 35% of medical students reported having been bullied. Around one in four of the 1,000 students questioned said they had been bullied by a doctor, while one in six had been bullied by a nurse. Manifestations of bullying included:
- being humiliated by teachers in front of patients
- been victimised for not having come from a "medical family"
- being put under pressure to carry out a procedure without supervision.
- Keashly, Loraleigh; Neuman, Joel H. (2010). "Faculty Experiences with Bullying in Higher Education: Causes, Consequences, and Management". Administrative Theory & Praxis. 32 (1): 48–70. doi:10.2753/ATP1084-1806320103.
- "We need a bigger conversation about bullying in academia". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
- "Academic Mobbing: Hidden Health Hazard at Workplace". NCBI. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
- Thompson, David; Arora, Tiny; Sharp, Sonia (2002). Bullying: Effective strategies for long-term improvement. (Summaries at Eric, at Questia, at Jstor)
- Rigby, Ken (2002). New Perspectives on Bullying. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN 9781853028724. OCLC 875667926.
- Macgorine A. Cassell, Fairmont State University. "Bullying In Academe: Prevalent, Significant, and Incessant (2010 IABR & ITLC Conference Proceedings )". The Clute Institute for Academic Research. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- C. K. Gunsalus (30 September 2006). The college administrator's survival guide. Harvard University Press. pp. 124–125. ISBN 978-0-674-02315-4. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- Robert Cantwell; Jill Scevak (August 2009). An Academic Life: A Handbook for New Academics. Australian Council for Educational Research. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-86431-908-1. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- Wilmshurst, Peter. "Dishonesty in Medical Research" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 May 2013.
- Reveal bullying in academia
- Workplace Bullying in the Academic World?, Higher Education Development Association, 13 May 2007, archived from the original on 24 July 2011, retrieved 5 March 2011
- Anthea Lipsett (16 September 2005). "Bullying rife across campus". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- "Workplace Mediators Seek a Role in Taming Faculty Bullies". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
- McKay, R. Arnold, D. H. Fratzl, J. Thomas, R. "Workplace Bullying In Academia: A Canadian Study". Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal. 20: 77–100. doi:10.1007/s10672-008-9073-3. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Innovation; Universities; Science and Skills Committee (2009). Students and universities: eleventh report of session 2008–09, Vol. 2: Oral and written evidence. The Stationery Office. pp. 531–532. ISBN 978-0-215-54072-0. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- "AAUP Collegiality Report". American Association of University Professors. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
- Curtis, Polly (4 May 2005). "Medical students complain of bullying". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
- Hollis, Leah P., ed. (2016). The Coercive Community College: Bullying and Its Costly Impact on the Mission to Serve Underrepresented Populations. Bingley, U.K.: Emerald Group Publishing. ISBN 9781786355980. OCLC 946605641.
- Lester, Jaime, ed. (2013). Workplace Bullying in Higher Education. Routledge. ISBN 9780415519649. OCLC 768171467.
- Riley, Stephen (2010). Barsteadworth College – How Workplace Bullies Get Away With It. London: Chipmunka Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84991-182-5.
- Towler, John (2011). Chaos and Academic Mobbing – The True Story of The Renison Affair.
- Twale, Darla J. (2008). Faculty Incivility: The Rise of the Academic Bully Culture and What to Do About It. ISBN 978-0-470-19766-0.
- Westhues, Kenneth (2004). The Envy of Excellence: Administrative Mobbing of High-Achieving Professors. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 0-7734-5979-0.
- Chapell, M., Casey, D., De la Cruz, C., Ferrell, J., Bullying in College by Students and Teachers – Adolescence, Spring, 2004.
- Hollis, Leah P. (April 1, 2015). "Bully University? The Cost of Workplace Bullying and Employee Disengagement in American Higher Education". SAGE Open. 5 (2). doi:10.1177/2158244015589997.
- Hughes, Gavin Examples of Good Practice when Dealing with Bullying in a Further/Higher Education College – Pastoral Care in Education, 2001
- Krestelica, Dragana; Barratt-Pugh, Llandis (June 2009). "Do policies on bullying make a difference? Contrasting strategy regimes within higher education in Australia and Croatia". International Journal of Management and Decision Making. 10 (5/6): 303–320. doi:10.1504/IJMDM.2009.026680.
- Lester, Jaime (2009). "Not Your Child's Playground: Workplace Bullying Among Community College Faculty". Community College Journal of Research and Practice. 33 (5): 444–462. doi:10.1080/10668920902728394.
- Lewis, Duncan Workplace bullying–interim findings of a study in further and higher education in Wales – International Journal of Manpower, Vol 20 Issue 1/2 1999
- Lewis, Duncan (2003). "Voices in the social construction of bullying at work: exploring multiple realities in further and higher education". International Journal of Management and Decision Making. 4 (1): 65–81. doi:10.1504/ijmdm.2003.002489.
- Misawa, Mitsunori (Winter 2010). "Racist and Homophobic Bullying in Adulthood: Narratives from Gay Men of Color in Higher Education" (PDF). New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. 24 (1). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
- Savva, C. and Alexandrou, A., The impact of bullying in further and higher education – Bullying at Work research and update conference 1998
- Simpson, Ruth; Cohen, Claire (2004). "Dangerous Work: The Gendered Nature of Bullying in the Context of Higher Education" (PDF). Gender Work and Organization. 11 (2): 163–186. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0432.2004.00227.x.
- Thomas, Mary (2005). "Bullying among support staff in a higher education institution". Health Education. 105 (4): 273–288. doi:10.1108/09654280510602499.
- Harassment and Bullying in Higher & Further Education The National Harassment Network First Higher and Further Education Branch Annual Conference 1997
- Zabrodska, Katerina; Kveton, Petr (2013). "Prevalence and Forms of Workplace Bullying among University Employees". Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal. 25: 89–108. doi:10.1007/s10672-012-9210-x.
- Twale D Civility, Incivility, Bullying, and Mobbing in Academe
- Karim N Bullying in Universities: It exists The Independent on Sunday 15 January 2010
- Westhues K Workplace Mobbing in Academe
- Albrecht Anti-Mobbing Help for Scientists