Friday, 24 March 2017

Creating the Boiler Room Environment: The Job Demand-Control-Support Model as an Explanation for Workplace Bullying

Alan K. Goodboy, Matthew M. Martin, Jennifer M. Knight and Zachary Long (West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA) published in Communication Research Volume 42 Issue 2 (March 2017)


The purpose of this study was to explain workplace bullying as a symptom of high-strain employment. The Job Demand-Control-Support (JDCS) model of work design was used to frame this study and examine workplace bullying antecedents and consequences.

Full-time American employees (N = 314) working in various organizations completed a questionnaire about their bullying experiences, working environments, and occupational outcomes. Results revealed that workplace bullying was correlated with expected negative outcomes at work (i.e., job dissatisfaction, job stress, anxiety).

In line with JDCS model predictions, employees who worked at organizations characterized by high psychological demands, low control, and low supervisor social support (i.e., an additive model) reported more workplace bullying (supporting an iso-strain hypothesis).

Results of a moderated moderation analysis revealed a significant three-way interaction between demands, control, and support (supporting a buffering hypothesis); under workplace conditions characterized by low supervisor social support, employee control over how work was completed buffered the negative effect of job demands on workplace bullying.

Supervisors, then, should consider how promoting employee autonomy and communicating social support to employees might nullify workplace conditions that encourage bullying, especially when work is particularly demanding.

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