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Bullying the Boss: The Prevalence of Upward Bullying Behaviours

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2012

Belinda Wallace
Affiliation:
University of Canterbury, United Kingdom.
Lucy Johnston*
Affiliation:
University of Canterbury, United Kingdom. lucy.johnston@canterbury.ac.nz
Linda Trenberth
Affiliation:
Birkbeck College, University of London, United Kingdom.
*
* Address for Correspondence: Professor Lucy Johnston, Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8410, New Zealand.
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Abstract

The present study investigated the prevalence of upwards bullying — that is, subordinate-initiated bullying of their supervisor — in two sample groups. Subordinates (n = 491) in this study were either thesis students working under the supervision of an academic advisor or were employees working under a primary supervisor in a variety of occupations. Participants completed a measure of bullying behaviours, the Negative Acts Questionnaire, as part of an online survey. Although the overall prevalence of bullies was low (1.7%), there was a high incidence of bullying behaviour with 70.6% of the sample reporting having engaged in bullying behaviours toward their supervisor in the preceding 6 month period. The incidence of bullying behaviours was lower for the students than for the employees and lower for females than for males. Implications for workplaces are considered.

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Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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