Workplace Bullying in Academia
Interaction of Gender, Nationality, Age, and Work Context of Scientific and Non-Scientific Employees in a Large German Research Organization
Purpose: The study elaborates the contextual conditions of the academic workplace in which gender, age, and nationality considerably influence the likelihood of self-categorization as being affected by workplace bullying. Furthermore, the intersectionality of these sociodemographic characteristics is examined. Basic Design: The hypotheses underlying the study were mainly derived from the social role, social identity, and cultural distance theory, as well as from role congruity and relative deprivation theory. A survey data set of a large German research organization, the Max Planck Society, was used. A total of 3,272 cases of researchers and 2,995 cases of non-scientific employees were included in the analyses performed. For both groups of employees, binary logistic regression equations were constructed. The outcome of each equation is the estimated percentage of individuals who reported themselves as having experienced bullying at work occasionally or more frequently in the 12 months prior to the survey. The predictors are the demographic and organization-specific characteristics (hierarchical position, scientific field, administrative unit) of the respondents and selected interaction terms. Using regression equations, hypothetically relevant conditional marginal means and differences in regression parameters were calculated and compared by means of t-tests. Results: In particular, the gender-related hypotheses of the study could be completely or conditionally verified. Accordingly, female scientific and nonscientific employees showed a higher bullying vulnerability in (almost) all contexts of the academic workplace. An increased bullying vulnerability was also found for foreign researchers. However, the patterns found here contradicted those that were hypothesized. Concerning the effect of age analyzed for non-scientific personnel, especially the age group 45–59 years showed a higher bullying probability, with the gender gap in bullying vulnerability being greatest for the youngest and oldest age groups in the sample. Interpretation and Relevance: The results of the study especially support the social identity theory regarding gender. In the sample studied, women in minority positions have a higher vulnerability to bullying in their work fields, which is not the case for men. However, the influence of nationality on bullying vulnerability is more complex. The study points to the further development of cultural distance theory, whose hypotheses are only partly able to explain the results. The evidence for social role theory is primarily seen in the interaction of gender with age and hierarchical level. Accordingly, female early career researchers and young women (and women in the oldest age group) on the non-scientific staff presumably experience a masculine workplace. Thus, the results of the study contradict the role congruity theory.