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Reframing Workplace Bullying

Special issue call for papers from International Journal of Workplace Health Management

Guest edited by:

Dr. Margaret Hodgins
National University of Ireland, Galway
[email protected]

Dr Patricia Mannix-McNamara
University of Limerick
[email protected]

Aims and Scope

Research on workplace bullying has frequently been described as drawing on psychological  and social-psychological perspectives (eg Akella, 2016; Johnson, 2015; Fevre et al., 2012b), with a focus on interpersonal aggression, individual behaviours, and individually focussed interventions. Although more recently the role of organisational factors has been demonstrated (Salin et al., 2011; Baillien, 2011), it is often as correlates or as mediating factors, maintaining the focus resolutely on change at the level of individual behaviour. The role of culture too, is often acknowledged, (eg Archer, 1999; Vickers, 2009) yet this has not translated meaningfully into organisational-level interventions. It seems that many researchers see and acknowledge the organisational dimension to workplace bullying but as yet have not managed to do anything other than add it into a mix of causative factors.

A further issue that confronts research and practice in workplace bullying is the need to develop the evidence base for intervention. The negative impact of bullying on health and well-being has been measured, documented and deplored for at least 20 years, yet very little has emerged from the academic community regarding intervention. The dearth of successful interventions may be linked to the individualistic focus taken and therefore a reframing of the problem may stimulate new thinking and ideas around intervention.

This focus of this special issue is reframing workplace bullying, using the settings approach in health promotion which argues that health (or ill health) is created within the setting, by the interaction between the people, the processes the structures and that improving the health of individuals in a setting requires intervention at the level of the setting, in this case the work organisation. This links with the work of Fevre et al’s (2012) that the reason we have failed to resolve bullying problems is that the concept of bullying casts the phenomenon as a ‘private’ trouble, requiring an individualised solution (eg training, education, awareness) and reinforces their call to view workplace mistreatment as public rather than private events.

Indicative list of anticipated themes:

  1. Reframing as an organisational problem – bullying as an abuse of organisational power, rather than a problem of individual aggression, conflict escalation. The ‘power and politics’ context of workplaces has to be acknowledged. Bullying is just one manifestation of the larger phenomenon of workplace mistreatment. Incivility, sexual harassment and violence are other manifestations. So too are punitive practices, unreasonable management, insensitive bureaucratic communication or unfair allocation of resources. What all of these have in common is abuse of individual and organisational power. An approach that acknowledges the need to balance power with humanity and which focuses on creating a supportive working environment would do much to protect workers from abuse.
  2. Reframing to focus on prevention/creating  - shift the focus from the detection of specific, adversarial actions such as bullying, and focus instead on creating benign working conditions that foster a positive working environment. Taking a settings approach involves a more serious consideration of prevention -addressing the wider working environment, through creating a positive culture that supports equity, health and well-being.
  3. Reframing interventions- A whole organization focus could provide the basis for improved organizational strategies with regard to mistreatment and thus the promotion of health.


Submission deadline: July 15, 2019

Further guidance on submission:

All submissions to the International Journal of Workplace Health Management should be through ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at:

Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see:

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

The Guest Editors will conduct an initial screening of submitted papers. Those judged suitable for the special issue will be sent to at least two independent referees for double blind peer review, after which submissions may be recommended for revisions and further review, acceptance or rejection.

Interested authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue “Reframing Workplace Bullying” at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”.