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Managing bullying in the workplace: a model of servant leadership, employee resilience and proactive personality

Saima Ahmad (Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Talat Islam (Institute of Business Administration, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan)
Amrik Singh Sohal (Department of Management, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)
Julie Wolfram Cox (Department of Management, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)
Ahmad Kaleem (School of Business and Law, Central Queensland University, Melbourne, Australia)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 25 May 2021

Issue publication date: 8 October 2021

1976

Abstract

Purpose

This paper develops and tests a model for managing workplace bullying by integrating employee perceived servant leadership, resilience and proactive personality. Specifically, this paper explores servant leadership as an inhibitive factor for workplace bullying, both directly and indirectly in the presence of employee resilience as a mediator. It further explores whether proactive personality moderates the indirect relationship.

Design/methodology/approach

This is an empirical study based on analysis of survey data collected from 408 employees working in services and manufacturing sector organisations in Pakistan. Structural equation modelling was used to test the research model.

Findings

Structural equation modelling results support the proposition that servant leadership helps in discouraging workplace bullying, both directly and indirectly, in the presence of employee resilience as a mediator. However, employee proactive personality moderates this process, such that the association between resilience and workplace bullying is stronger for individuals with high proactive personality.

Research limitations/implications

This study's findings illuminate the strong potential of servant leadership for managing workplace bullying. This potential is attributed to positive role modelling in the workplace, which may assist in building followers' resilience. This study provides evidence to support the importance of leadership in the process by which employees develop better psychological resources to combat bullying at work.

Originality/value

This is the first study that examines the direct relationship between servant leadership and bullying at work. In addition, this study introduced the mediating effect of resilience and the moderating effect of proactive personality on this relationship.

Keywords

Citation

Ahmad, S., Islam, T., Sohal, A.S., Wolfram Cox, J. and Kaleem, A. (2021), "Managing bullying in the workplace: a model of servant leadership, employee resilience and proactive personality", Personnel Review, Vol. 50 No. 7/8, pp. 1613-1631. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-06-2020-0470

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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