SA Journal of Industrial Psychology
version ISSN 2071-0768
BROECK, Anjavan den; BAILLIEN, Elfi and WITTE, Hans De. Workplace bullying: a perspective from the Job Demands-Resources model. SA j. ind. Psychol. [online]. 2011, vol.37, n.2, pp. 40-51. ISSN 2071-0768.
ORIENTATION: Workplace bullying is characterised as a counterproductive interpersonal behaviour, yielding severe consequences for both the individual and the organisation. The occurrence of workplace bullying is often attributed to a stressful work environment. RESEARCH PURPOSE: The purpose of the study was to test the work environment hypothesis by applying the Job Demands-Resources model to workplace bullying. We expected job demands and job resources to relate to both perpetrators' and actors' reports of workplace bullying. MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY: We aimed to extend the outcomes examined in the Job Demands-Resources model to a specific form of counterproductive interpersonal behaviour, namely workplace bullying. From the point of view of the literature on bullying, we aimed to substantiate the well-known work environment hypothesis with empirical data. RESEARCH DESIGN, APPROACH AND METHOD: We applied structural equation modelling on questionnaire data of a large heterogeneous sample of Flemish employees (N = 749). MAIN FINDINGS: Job demands and job resources interacted in the prediction of perpetrators' reports of bullying: job demands associated positively to perpetrators' reports of bullying particularly under the condition of high job resources. Job demands related positively to targets' reports of bullying, while job resources related negatively. These associations were (partially) mediated by emotional exhaustion. PRACTICAL/MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS: These results suggest that workplace bullying may indeed be reduced by good job design, that is, by limiting the job demands and increasing job resources. Particular prevention plans may be developed for exhausted employees, as they are vulnerable to workplace bullying, in terms of both becoming perpetrators and victims. CONTRIBUTION/VALUE-ADD: This study attests to the predictive validity of the JD-R model for perpetrators' and targets' reports of workplace bullying. The findings also underline the complex and multi-causal nature of workplace bullying.