December 16, 2010

Faculty Experiences with Bullying in Higher Education - Causes, Consequences, and Management

...While academics have paid little systematic empirical research attention to bullying in academic settings, this has not been the case in several popular online outlets and more traditional trade publications. For example, and www.mobbingportal. com/index.html represent some online destinations. In terms of a respected “industry” publication, the Chronicle of Higher Education has published numerous articles recently on the hostility and mistreatment that occurs on campuses (e.g., Fogg, 2008; Gravois, 2006). This suggests that academic settings are worthy and in need of concerted attention by researchers in workplace aggression and bullying...

...When bullying/mobbing occurs, it tends to be long-standing. McKay et al. (2008) found that 21% of their sample reported bullying that had persisted for more than five years in duration. In our 2008 study, 32% of the overall sample (faculty, staff, administrators, etc.) reported bullying lasting for more than three years. This percentage increased to 49% when we focused on faculty. It may be that academia is a particularly vulnerable setting for such persistent aggression as a result of tenure, which has faculty and some staff in very long-term relationships with one another. Both conflict (Holton, 1998) and aggression (Jawahar, 2002) research note that the longer and more interactive the relationship, the greater the opportunity for conflict and potential for aggression. Further, while ensuring a “job for life,” tenure may also restrict mobility so that once a situation goes bad, there are few options for leaving. Zapf and Gross (2001) observed that the number of actors was linked to the duration of bullying. They found that the more people who joined in the situation, the longer it went on, concluding that it may become increasingly difficult for witnesses/bystanders to remain neutral as bullying proceeds and intensifies...

...While injustice perceptions are common in all work settings, institutions of higher education may present numerous (sometimes unique) opportunities for such perceptions by faculty. For example, student evaluations of instruction are used in many important faculty personnel decisions such as discretionary salary increases, promotions, and reappointment and tenure decisions. Research clearly demonstrates that the content of the course, and “tough” grading, can adversely impact student ratings of teacher performance—leading to stress and frustration (which we discuss below), especially among junior (untenured) faculty. To combat this problem, some faculty may resort to grade inflation as a way of improving their own student evaluations—which, by the way, is often resented by other faculty members. This problem may differ according to academic disciplines and across academic departments. Faculty members are also evaluated using subjective, often ambiguous, criteria, as evident in reviews of scholarly/ intellectual contributions, department- and college-wide service, continuing growth, and community service. Few institutions have clear standards for judging such contributions and, instead, rely on general guidelines or descriptive criteria for making such evaluations. Such judgments often lead to perceptions of distributive injustice, unfair treatment associated with outcomes and procedural injustice, and unfair treatment associated with the decision-making process used to determine those outcomes (Greenberg & Colquitt, 2005)...

...Finally, the mechanisms available in higher education institutions may not be appropriately suited for helping faculty deal with these tensions due to their highly formalized structure and limited mandate (Leal, 1995). For example, in the United States and Canada, unions are designed to handle issues between faculty and the administration. They are not set up to handle member-on-member issues. Also, faculty members are less inclined to utilize these formal mechanisms because they take control of the situation out of faculty hands and into those of administration, impinging on the sacred value of autonomy...

Keashly, Loraleigh; Neuman, Joel H.(2010). Faculty Experiences with Bullying in Higher Education - Causes, Consequences, and Management. Administrative Theory & Praxis, Vol. 32 Issue 1, p48-70


Anonymous said...

These are comments from THE blog about Gloucestershire... they highlight the level of corruption in our universities and for those of us trying to take action in our own universities they highlight the tough struggle ahead.

But times have changed - this information is leaking out - slowly we are discovering the cancer that is attacking HE - and some staff with integrity are now speaking out.

@compromise agreement 28 December, 2010
Of course she signed a compromise agreement. She made extensive use of these when trying to buy off and silence senior staff who challenged her and her corrupt practices. And before THE responds to pressure from their comms director to erase this comment, it is a matter of public record that she acquired for herself a fully serviced executive apartment in Cheltenham together with a car and driver without prior Council approval and in addition to the salary package she agreed on appointment. It is also common knowledge that she forced senior staff (several now departed and silenced with compromise agreements) to arrange jobs (sinecures) for a number of her old friends and at least one close family member, in spite of desperate financial circumstances. This was nothing short of looting; hard to remember another British VC who gave so little and took so much.

Absolute Power corrupts ......... 28 December, 2010
The Council failed to control Broadfoot and those who benefited from her 'patronage' and did her bidding without question are still in senior management positions today - and still being allowed to hold the future of Gloucestershire in their hands.

Paul Hartley was her deputy during the whole period and staff fully expect him to be appointed to the VC's job after the 'interview process' in January. After all neither Council nor management would want someone new and fresh who might make real changes???No no no that would never do- we might get another Paul Bowler who might really mix things up and try and change things for the better!
The losers are students and staff who are helpless against such an autocratic regime that holds absolute power. It is disappointing that others who should speak out about what is really wrong at Gloucestershire have not- what price integrity? Keeping your job.

Speak out.

Anonymous said...

From THE blog

fight with the students 29 December, 2010
Thank you for speaking out - in other universities we are trying to expose what is happening - and your comments help us to gather strength in what can seem a lonely battle. We must fight with the students but our task is a different one. As they fight for the right to go to university we must ensure that when they get there their studies are not undermined by those at the top who have a different agenda - personal greed.

Nolan principles 29 December, 2010
Maybe council members need to remind themselves of the Nolan principles as we address Emma's question - what counts as good governance?

exposing corruption 29 December, 2010
Thank you to everyone at UoG for your hard work in exposing this corruption - we are indebted to you as we work in our own universities where senior staff also pay themselves huge salaries - sign compromise agreements for those who challenge - and where council members sit in silence.

more silence 29 December, 2010
And where some UCU officials watch in silence - betraying their members.

Happy New Year