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Workplace bullying as a gendered phenomenon

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to argue that bullying is a gendered, rather than gender-neutral, phenomenon. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper reviews empirical findings on gender and bullying and identifies and discusses theoretical frameworks that can provide explanations for identified gender differences. Findings ‐ The paper shows that there are gender differences not only in reported prevalence rates and forms of bullying, but that gender also matters for the way targets and third parties make sense of and respond to bullying. It is shown that gendered conceptions of power, gender role socialisation theory and social identity theory are all relevant for explaining reported gender differences. Research limitations/implications ‐ The theoretical frameworks that have been selected should not be seen as exhaustive, but rather as useful examples. The authors encourage researchers in the field of bullying to pursue cross-disciplinary research and actively apply existing theoretical frameworks to integrate their findings more firmly in existing research on related themes. Practical implications ‐ The finding that bullying is gendered rather than gender-neutral has implications above all for the way managers, organisational representatives and policy-makers should address and prevent workplace bullying. Originality/value ‐ The paper questions the prevailing notion that bullying is gender-neutral and demonstrates the importance of gender in the experience of workplace bullying. It further identifies gaps in research and puts forward an agenda for future research in this area.
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Keywords: Aggression; Bullying; Gender; Gender role socialization theory; Power; Social identity theory

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 22, 2013

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