Category Archives: Research

Ethnicity, workplace bullying, social support and psychological strain in Aotearoa/New Zealand

New Zealand Journal of Psychology Vol. 42, No. 2, 2013. This research explored whether respondents who self-identified as New Zealand Europeans experienced less bullying and less severe outcomes than those who self-identified as Māori, Pacific Island or other ethnic groups. Social support was also examined as a potential buffer against the negative effects of bullying – Read more here.

  • Dianne Gardner, Massey University
  • Tim Bentley, Auckland University of Technology
  • Bevan Catley, Massey University
  • Helena Cooper-Thomas, The University of Auckland
  • Michael O’Driscoll, University of Waikato
  • Linda Trenberth, University of London, UK

Student Safety Audit – NZUSA

NZUSA’s Tertiary Women’s Focus Group produced a Safety Audit of campuses in 2011, which is attached here for download.

Violence against women is a huge problem throughout New Zealand, with many incidents going unreported. Often victims are blamed, the focus is on the behaviour of the victim, and rape myths are perpetuated (“She was asking for it by wearing a short skirt”). The victim is never at fault in cases of harassment and assault, but many people refuse to accept this and continue marginalising victims.

This report is targeted at both Universities and Polytechnics. Tertiary study shapes the lives of many people and it is the responsibility of the campus community to ensure that everyone has good experiences while studying.

Tertiary study is often young people’s first foray into the ‘real world’, therefore it is important to try and create a culture of respect and safety. Institutions must have an appropriate attitude when it comes to issues such as harassment and assault, and should be willing to fix gaps in their procedures when needed. This report attempts to begin this process.

The report consists of three parts –

  1. A review of the sexual harassment policies of every public tertiary education provider in Aotearoa New Zealand,

  2. The results of the NZUSA Student Relationship survey focussed around students’ perceptions of relationship abuse, and

  3. Physical safety audits from select campuses

Australian research shows workplace bullying involves us all

“Bystanders are not incidental, but are an integral part of the context of bullying, with some siding with the bully or victim, either actively or passively,” Dr Paull said. “People don’t always appreciate the impact of their actions, or inactions. For example, a social reaction to walking into a room where colleagues are laughing is to laugh along without thinking. But you could be adding fuel to someone’s embarrassment.”


Thanks to Fellowsisters @ Flickr for the photo

Wellbeing at School: Building a safe and caring climate that deters bullying

Wellbeing Brochure

Sally Boyd and Helena Barwick

This booklet is a summary of an extensive review of research and other literature undertaken to guide the development of the Wellbeing@School website self-review process, survey tools and content. This website is being developed by NZCER.

(Thanks to Dunedin Public Libraries for the photo

Workplace change and bullying

Australian research has found links between organisational restructuring and workplace bullying.  The study looked at bullying in the Australian public sector, finding that although bullying is presented as a problem of the individual,  organisational factors such as restructuring actually create the power relations needed to facilitate and support it. The research also notes that in some instances, the organisation itself, through restructuring policies and practices, was perceived to be the perpetrator.

(via EEO Trust Newsletter, May 2012)


Understanding Stress and Bullying in New Zealand Workplaces -Final report to OH&S Steering Committee

This report presents the findings from a Health Research Council of New Zealand and Department of Labour funded study that sought to develop and evaluate a valid and reliable methodology for the measurement of workplace stress and bullying in New Zealand organisations.

The report concludes by providing recommendations for a full national workplace stress and bullying prevalence study, and notes the urgent need for intervention research in the education and health sectors, where bullying and stress appear particularly prevalent. Of particular note was the importance of focusing on the role of organisational factors, such as leadership, human resource practices, bullying reporting, and work organisation, in the prevention of workplace stress and bullying.

Read the report here

Gender Differences in Workplace Bullying

 Workplace bullying is defined as:

Deliberate, repeated, and hurtful acts that take place of work and/or in the course of employment.  Bullying may include direct or indirect harassment, professional misconduct, or abuse of power.  It is characterized by unfair treatment, rumor spreading, or any repeated action you find offensive, intimidating, malicious, or insulting.  Any actions that could reasonably be regarded as undermining an individual’s right or dignity at work is considered workplace bullying.

The following findings are from our sample of 1,117 university staff.  Of the sample, 64% was female and 26% male.  Gender differences found in workplace bullying are detailed below.

Workplace Bullying

  • 70% of female respondents reported having been bullied at work, compared to 53% of male respondents.  This difference was statistically significant.
  • 61% of female victims were academic staff while 39% were general staff.
  • 73% of female academic staff who responded reported being bullied while 66% of general staff.
  • 56% of female victims reported being bullied by another female in the workplace while 44% were bullied by a male.
  • The majority of female victims (60%) reported the bully was someone with authority over them like a manager, while 20% reported it was a co-worker at a higher university ranking, 16% were bullied by a co-worker at the same ranking, and 4% bullied by a co-worker at a lower ranking.

Gender Comparisons

Comparisons of the scores of those who had experienced bullying and those who had not on subscales of Maslach’s Burnout Inventory found that staff members who were victims of bullying reported significantly more occupational stress than non-victims.

T-tests comparing female and male victims of workplace bullying indicated that female victims reported experiencing more forms of workplace bullying, more emotional exhaustion, and more effects of victimization.  Male victims reported higher levels of workplace stress resulting in depersonalization.

Male and female victims did not differ significantly in the percentage who were still working with the bully (67% Female, 70% Male), whether they felt it had effected their health (70% Female, 68% Male) or performance (70% Female, 62% Male), or whether workplace bullying had led them to consider leaving their job at the university (74% Female, 69% Male).


Again I must point out the limitations of this sample:

  • This is not a random sample and should not be considered representative of all university staff.
  • It is possible that those who have experienced bullying at work were more likely to respond to the on-line survey.  If so, this would limit generalizability of the prevalence numbers.  However, responses from more victims would strengthen the findings regarding the different forms of bullying and the effects reported by staff.

This research as conducted at the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006 through an anonymous survey on workplace bullying in New Zealand Universities.  The findings from this research are in the process of being written up for submission to academic journals.  Please do not cite without permission.  Contact Dr. Juliana Raskauskas,, with any inquiries.