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The effect of competition and passive avoidant leadership style on the occurrence of workplace bullying

Philipp E. Sischka (Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences, University of Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg)
Alexander F. Schmidt (Department of Psychology, Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz, Mainz, Germany)
Georges Steffgen (Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences, University of Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 20 July 2020

Issue publication date: 4 February 2021

1467

Abstract

Purpose

The present study aimed to investigate the main effect of competition on workplace bullying (WB) exposure and perpetration as well as its hypothesized moderation through passive avoidant leadership style. Specifically, the authors hypothesized that competition would have a stronger influence on WB when supervisors score higher on passive avoidant leadership style.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected among employees (N = 1,260) on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk utilizing an online survey. WB exposure and perpetration were cross-sectionally assessed via self-labeling and behavioral experience self-reports.

Findings

The results partially corroborated the proposed model. Competition and passive avoidant leadership were predictors of WB exposure and perpetration (as determined by both assessment methods). Furthermore, passive avoidant leadership moderated the relationship between competition and self-labeled WB exposure. Passive avoidant leadership only moderated the relationship between competition and self-labeled WB perpetration but not the competition–WB perpetration link assessed with the behavioral experience method.

Practical implications

This study shows that competition needs to be embedded within a leadership style sensitive to the detection of and taking action against WB phenomena.

Originality/value

While other studies have mainly focused on work stressors as antecedents of WB exposure, this study looks at the motivators and facilitators of WB occurrence. Furthermore, not only WB exposure but also WB perpetration is considered here, with the latter being an underresearched topic. Moreover, the authors used two assessment methods in order to test the generalizability of the authors’ findings.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Sylvain Hoffmann and David Büchel.Funding: This research was supported by a grant from the Luxembourg Chamber of Labor.

Citation

Sischka, P.E., Schmidt, A.F. and Steffgen, G. (2021), "The effect of competition and passive avoidant leadership style on the occurrence of workplace bullying", Personnel Review, Vol. 50 No. 2, pp. 535-559. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-09-2019-0469

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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