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Human resource management practitioners’ responses to workplace bullying: cycles of symbolic violence

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Human resource management practitioners’ responses to workplace bullying: cycles of symbolic violence. / Harrington, Susan; Warren, Samantha; Rayner, Charlotte.

In: Organization, Vol. 22, No. 3, 01.05.2015, p. 368-389.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Harrington, Susan ; Warren, Samantha ; Rayner, Charlotte. / Human resource management practitioners’ responses to workplace bullying: cycles of symbolic violence. In: Organization. 2015 ; Vol. 22, No. 3. pp. 368-389.

Bibtex

@article{9b756f14ad6f47e6af02bb2c3b14d78a,
title = "Human resource management practitioners{\textquoteright} responses to workplace bullying: cycles of symbolic violence",
abstract = "In the United Kingdom the majority of those reporting being bullied at work claim their manager as {\textquoteleft}the bully{\textquoteright} (Hoel and Beale, 2006). A global phenomenon, workplace bullying is damaging to those involved and hence their organizations (Einarsen et al., 2003), justifying academic attention and a practical need to develop mechanisms that tackle the phenomenon. Bullying is typically a problem {\textquoteleft}owned{\textquoteright} by Human Resource (HR) departments, yet existing evidence suggests that targets perceive HR practitioners (HRPs) as inactive, hence ineffective, in response to claims (Lewis and Rayner, 2003). However, very little is known about how HRPs themselves interpret and respond to claims of bullying. We address this gap, drawing on Bourdieu{\textquoteright}s concept of {\textquoteleft}symbolic violence{\textquoteright} to interpret experiential interview data. Our findings suggest HRPs enact symbolic violence on employees who raise claims of bullying against their managers by attributing managerial bullying behaviours to legitimate performance management practices. A critical discourse analysis identified four interpretive mechanisms used by HRPs that served to exonerate managers from bullying behaviours, thereby protecting the interests of the organization at the expense of an employee advocacy role. These data suggest that, rather than being solely a phenomenon perpetrated by individuals, workplace bullying is often a symptom of managerialist and capitalistic discourses of intensified performance management in organizations, reinforced by the embedding of existing professionalization discourses with the field of Human Resource Management in the UK.",
keywords = "Bourdieu, critical discourse analysis, HRM, human resource management, intervention, managerialism, managers, Performance management, symbolic violence, workplace bullying",
author = "Susan Harrington and Samantha Warren and Charlotte Rayner",
year = "2015",
month = may,
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/1350508413516175",
language = "English",
volume = "22",
pages = "368--389",
journal = "Organization",
issn = "1350-5084",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Inc.",
number = "3",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Human resource management practitioners’ responses to workplace bullying: cycles of symbolic violence

AU - Harrington, Susan

AU - Warren, Samantha

AU - Rayner, Charlotte

PY - 2015/5/1

Y1 - 2015/5/1

N2 - In the United Kingdom the majority of those reporting being bullied at work claim their manager as ‘the bully’ (Hoel and Beale, 2006). A global phenomenon, workplace bullying is damaging to those involved and hence their organizations (Einarsen et al., 2003), justifying academic attention and a practical need to develop mechanisms that tackle the phenomenon. Bullying is typically a problem ‘owned’ by Human Resource (HR) departments, yet existing evidence suggests that targets perceive HR practitioners (HRPs) as inactive, hence ineffective, in response to claims (Lewis and Rayner, 2003). However, very little is known about how HRPs themselves interpret and respond to claims of bullying. We address this gap, drawing on Bourdieu’s concept of ‘symbolic violence’ to interpret experiential interview data. Our findings suggest HRPs enact symbolic violence on employees who raise claims of bullying against their managers by attributing managerial bullying behaviours to legitimate performance management practices. A critical discourse analysis identified four interpretive mechanisms used by HRPs that served to exonerate managers from bullying behaviours, thereby protecting the interests of the organization at the expense of an employee advocacy role. These data suggest that, rather than being solely a phenomenon perpetrated by individuals, workplace bullying is often a symptom of managerialist and capitalistic discourses of intensified performance management in organizations, reinforced by the embedding of existing professionalization discourses with the field of Human Resource Management in the UK.

AB - In the United Kingdom the majority of those reporting being bullied at work claim their manager as ‘the bully’ (Hoel and Beale, 2006). A global phenomenon, workplace bullying is damaging to those involved and hence their organizations (Einarsen et al., 2003), justifying academic attention and a practical need to develop mechanisms that tackle the phenomenon. Bullying is typically a problem ‘owned’ by Human Resource (HR) departments, yet existing evidence suggests that targets perceive HR practitioners (HRPs) as inactive, hence ineffective, in response to claims (Lewis and Rayner, 2003). However, very little is known about how HRPs themselves interpret and respond to claims of bullying. We address this gap, drawing on Bourdieu’s concept of ‘symbolic violence’ to interpret experiential interview data. Our findings suggest HRPs enact symbolic violence on employees who raise claims of bullying against their managers by attributing managerial bullying behaviours to legitimate performance management practices. A critical discourse analysis identified four interpretive mechanisms used by HRPs that served to exonerate managers from bullying behaviours, thereby protecting the interests of the organization at the expense of an employee advocacy role. These data suggest that, rather than being solely a phenomenon perpetrated by individuals, workplace bullying is often a symptom of managerialist and capitalistic discourses of intensified performance management in organizations, reinforced by the embedding of existing professionalization discourses with the field of Human Resource Management in the UK.

KW - Bourdieu

KW - critical discourse analysis

KW - HRM

KW - human resource management

KW - intervention

KW - managerialism

KW - managers

KW - Performance management

KW - symbolic violence

KW - workplace bullying

U2 - 10.1177/1350508413516175

DO - 10.1177/1350508413516175

M3 - Article

VL - 22

SP - 368

EP - 389

JO - Organization

JF - Organization

SN - 1350-5084

IS - 3

ER -

ID: 11237975