Cultures of fear and bullying in organizations

Culture of fear (from

Ashforth discussed potentially destructive sides of leadership and identified what he referred to as petty tyrants, i.e.leaders who exercise a tyrannical style of management, resulting in a climate of fear in the workplace.[28]

In a study of public-sector union members, approximately one in five workers reported having considered leaving the workplace as a result of witnessing bullying taking place. Rayner explained these figures by pointing to the presence of a climate of fear in which employees considered reporting to be unsafe, where bullies had “got away with it” previously despite management knowing of the presence of bullying.[27]

Typology of bullying behaviours

With some variations, the following typology of workplace bullying behaviours has been adopted by a number of academic researchers. The typology uses five different categories.[31] [32]

  • Threat to professional status – including belittling opinions, public professional humiliation, accusations regarding lack of effort, intimidating use of discipline or competence procedures
  • Threat to personal standing – including undermining personal integrity, destructive innuendo and sarcasm, making inappropriate jokes about target, persistent teasing, name calling, insults, intimidation
  • Isolation – including preventing access to opportunities, physical or social isolation, withholding necessary information, keeping the target out of the loop, ignoring or excluding
  • Overwork – including undue pressure, impossible deadlines, unnecessary disruptions.
  • Destabilisation – including failure to acknowledge good work, allocation of meaningless tasks, removal of responsibility, repeated reminders of blunders, setting target up to fail, shifting goal posts without telling the target.

Abusive workplace behaviours

According to Bassman, common abusive workplace behaviours are:

  • Disrespecting and devaluing the individual, often through disrespectful and devaluing language or verbal abuse
  • Overwork and devaluation of personal life (particularly salaried workers who are not compensated)
  • Harassment through micromanagement of tasks and time
  • Overevaluation and manipulating information (for example concentration on negative characteristics and failures, setting up subordinate for failure).
  • Managing by threat and intimidation
  • Stealing credit and taking unfair advantage
  • Preventing access to opportunities
  • Downgrading an employee’s capabilities to justify downsizing
  • Impulsive destructive behaviour

Bullying in information technology

Another interesting article about the subject, focusing in IT :



  1. Fernando Moreira · September 24, 2014

    Assim de repente, estou a lembrar-me de qualquer coisa….


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