Violence and workplace bullying: What are an organization's ethical responsiblities?

Public Administration Theory Network
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Administrative Theory & Praxis, 2010, 32 (1), pp. 96 - 115
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Understood as an act of violence intentionally perpetuated by one person over another, bullying is a direct affront to ethics, especially when ethics is seen to be grounded in a primary relationship with and responsibility for other people. Existing research has attended largely to providing individualized rather than organizational explanations of bullying and has not adequately interrogated bullying in relation to ethics. With this paper, we address the question What are organizations ethical responsibilities in responding to the bullying that occurs within them? We argue that although organizations cannot necessarily be held responsible for individual acts of bullying, they can be held responsible for asserting constant vigilance that seeks to address and minimize the presence of such acts. We call for organizations to act, not just to prevent or censure individual acts of bullying, but also to engage in an ongoing and active self-critique of all of their practices insofar as they support the institutionalization and normalization of bullying relationships.
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