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Targets’ coping with workplace bullying: a qualitative study

Isil Karatuna (Kırklareli University, Kırklareli, Turkey)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to explore targets’ coping strategies in dealing with workplace bullying and to determine the possible contributing effects of these strategies to the escalation or de-escalation of bullying process.


Based on a qualitative design, 20 self-reported targets were interviewed in-depth and data were analysed using the content analysis method.


Five main themes were identified in the targets’ coping with workplace bullying: first, underestimation of the problem – avoidance; second, losing patience – confrontation; third, perceiving threats to personal health – seeking support; fourth, despair – destructive coping; and fifth, giving up – exit. The use of coping strategies both influenced the course of workplace bullying and were affected by the escalating nature of the bullying process itself. The most effective strategies included problem-solving strategies like coping collectively with colleagues, seeking support of managerial staff and filing complaints to management.


The present study contributed to the workplace bullying research by describing workplace bullying as a process in which targets’ coping strategies and their consequences were evaluated and by providing data in a new national context (Turkey).



Karatuna, I. (2015), "Targets’ coping with workplace bullying: a qualitative study", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 21-37.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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