Pesterijen in kleine en middelgrote organisaties: verschillend van grote ondernemingen? | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0169-2216
  • E-ISSN: 2468-9424


Workplace bullying in small and medium sized enterprises: Different from large organizations?

Workplace bullying in small and medium sized enterprises: Different from large organizations?

Many studies investigate which task-, team- and organizational characteristics result in mobbing at work. In this article, we explore the effect of the size of the organization on the development of bullying. Therefore, we compare two qualitative studies in 19 large organizations and 47 Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SME's). The organizational size has a direct, preventive influence on bullying in SME's because (1) the behaviour of the employees is visible and striking, (2) there is less anonymity and (3) bullying is less bearable in a SME (because of the harmful group atmosphere and performances). In order to study the indirect influence of the organizational size, we compare the task-, team- and organizational risk factors of the two studies. We conclude that most of the risk factors in SME's resemble these in larger organizations. However, the SME interviewees mention more often causal and continuing risk factors such as a lack of hierarchy, rules and procedures and preventative characteristics such as a quick dismissal and the close-knit group. In comparing the underlying processes that result in bullying, we conclude that SME interviewees emphasize more often that negative behaviour is more visible and results in more negative consequences (for example bad performance, dismissal). This keeps a possible perpetrator from bullying (the effect/danger ratio is low). On the other hand, the bullying stops sooner because power is more often used in a constructive way in SME's to solve frustrations, strains, conflicts and bullying (for example by sanctions from a manager or the close-knit group who counteract against the bullying).


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