How well did the authors explain what they did and what they found?

  1. Provide a summary of the article. Be sure to include:
    • A brief overview of the background information (introduction/lit review)
    • The variables and relationships between them being examined
    • The characteristics of the participants
    • The method and measures used to collect data (does not apply to meta-analyses)
    • The results (it’s ok if you don’t fully understand what’s going on, just tell me in general what they found; no need to use statistics)
    • The implications of the study (why is it important, how is it useful, etc.)
  2. Write down your thoughts and reactions to the article.
    • How interesting was the topic?
    • How well did the authors explain what they did and what they found?
    • Were there any weaknesses in the article?
    • How can you personally use the information in the article?

Each section (the summary and reactions) should be about a page or two; your paper should be around 2-4 pages overall (I don’t care if it’s more or fewer pages so long as you adequately cover everything).  Provide enough detail in the summary that tells me you understood the article, but not so much that you’re going over every little thing.  In your reactions, provide responses that tell me you thought critically about the article and its message.

The assigned articles are more related to the “O” side of I-O psychology.  The “I” side is comprised of the topics we cover in class; in fact, “industrial psychology” and “personnel psychology” mean basically the same thing.  Hopefully in taking INP 4203 you’re getting a good idea of what goes on in the I side.  The O side looks less at individual differences and more at how organizations influence the people working in them.

I’m very interested in the “I” side but generally less interested in the “O” side of the field.  However, many of my colleagues are more interested in the “O” than “I” side, and I can recognize that there is a lot of useful information in the “O” side.  As such, I’m using the extra credit assignment to give you (those who do it) some exposure to the “O” side, which some of you may find more interesting or relevant.

Additional instructions:

Your paper should be in APA format to the best of your ability.  I won’t really be grading it based on correct formatting, but you should get used to this kind of formal writing format. 

Workplace bullying and intention to leave: the moderating effect of perceived organisational support

Nikola Djurkovic and Darcy McCormack, School of Business, La Trobe University Gian Casimir, Newcastle Graduate School of Business, University of Newcastle Human Resource Management Journal, Vol 18, no 4, 2008, pages 405–422

This study examined whether perceived organisational support (POS) moderates the relationship between workplace bullying and victims’ intention to leave. Based on data from 335 schoolteachers, a hierarchical regression analysis using the product term revealed that POS moderates the effects of bullying on intention to leave. Furthermore, a series of univariate regression analyses revealed that the effects of bullying on intention to leave were significant with lower levels of POS but were non-significant with higher levels of POS. Several implications for future research and policy are drawn from the findings. Contact: Nikola Djurkovic, School of Business, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia. Email: n.djurkovic@latrobe.edu.au

INTRODUCTION

Workplace bullying is receiving increasing attention in the academicliterature and has become a salient issue for organisations. Bullyingreduces organisational effectiveness partly because it renders the victims more likely to both be absent and leave the organisation (Quine, 1999; Hoel et al., 2003). Dealing effectively with bullying is therefore a major concern for organisations. Perceived organisational support (POS) refers to the perception that one is valued and treated well by the organisation (Eisenberger et al., 1986). Despite evidence (e.g. Quine, 2001) that various forms of workplace support (e.g. support from colleagues) moderate the relationship between bullying and propensity to leave the organisation, the moderating effects of POS are yet to be examined. This study therefore investigates the moderating effects of POS on the relationship between bullying and intention to leave by using a sample of schoolteachers in Australia.

Workplace bullying

Several definitions of workplace bullying have been provided in the literature. Despite several definitions of bullying, there is a general consensus regarding what constitutes bullying (e.g. Einarsen et al., 2003). Specifically, for a behaviour to qualify as bullying, it must be perceived by the victim as oppressive, unfair, humiliating, undermining, threatening, difficult to defend against or an infringement of the victim’s human rights. Furthermore, according to several authors (e.g. Vartia, 2001;

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Einarsen et al., 2003), such behaviours are considered to be bullying only if they recur over an extended period of time.

Bullying is a multidimensional construct and comprises a wide spectrum of behaviours that can be targeted at the work or at the personal characteristics of the victim. The more subtle types of bullying behaviours include withholding information and physically or socially isolating the victim, whereas the more overt types include setting impossible deadlines for the victim and publicly belittling the victim. This wide spectrum of behaviours has been categorised in several different taxonomies (e.g. Leymann, 1990; Zapf et al., 1996; Rayner and Hoel, 1997) that have considerable similarities. The Negative Acts Questionnaire (NAQ; Einarsen and Raknes, 1997), which is a commonly used measure of workplace bullying behaviours, has been revised by Hoel and Cooper (2000) to comprise four categories: (1) work-related harassment (e.g. persistently criticising the victim’s work); (2) personal harassment (e.g. spreading rumours about the victim); (3) organisational harassment (e.g. removing key areas of responsibility from the victim); and (4) intimidation (e.g. threatening the victim with violence).

Workplace bullying has several unfavourable psychological effects on victims (Fox and Stallworth, 2005), such as negative affect, depression, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts (Einarsen and Matthiesen, 1999). There is evidence supporting the psychosomatic model of bullying, which posits that bullying leads to negative affect, which then leads to physiological problems (Mikkelsen and Einarsen, 2002). Consistent with the psychosomatic model of bullying, being bullied has been shown to be associated with physiological problems, such as musculoskeletal pains, chronic fatigue syndrome (Einarsen and Mikkelsen, 2003), headaches, stomach disorders, rashes (e.g. O’Moore et al., 1998; Vartia, 2001) and cardiovascular disease (Kivimaki et al., 2003).

Workplace bullying has widespread negative effects on organisations because it affects not only the victims but also those who witness the bullying (Hoel et al., 1999). Bullying adversely affects organisational performance in terms of output, creativity and innovation (Rayner et al., 2002). Being bullied at work also reduces the organisational satisfaction and commitment of victims (Hoel and Cooper, 2000), and increases both their absenteeism (Vartia, 2001) and the likelihood that they will contemplate leaving the organisation. Bullying, both directly and indirectly, via negative affect and physical symptoms, increases the intention to leave of victims (Djurkovic et al., 2004). Intention to leave has been found to be a significant predictor of turnover (Begley, 1998), which has substantial costs for organisations (Cascio, 1987; Waldman et al., 2004). It is noteworthy that some employees leave their jobs because they have been bullied. For example, in a UK-based study, approximately a quarter of victims left their jobs because they were being bullied (Rayner and Cooper, 1997).

POS

Employees anthropomorphise their organisations according to how their organisations treat them (e.g. Rhoades and Eisenberger, 2002). After assigning human-like characteristics (e.g. caring nature, considerate nature) to their organisations, employees develop a set of beliefs on the extent to which their organisations value their contributions and care about their well-being. These beliefs have been labelled POS, which comprises three forms of favourable treatment: (1)

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organisational rewards and job conditions; (2) fairness; and (3) supervisor support (Eisenberger et al., 1986).

Factors that influence organisational rewards and conditions include pay, recognition, promotions, job security, autonomy, role stressors and training. POS is increased by voluntary actions (e.g. training) taken by the organisation that benefit employees rather than by actions that are compulsory as a result of external factors (e.g. legislation; Eisenberger et al., 1986). Furthermore, POS increases when organisations are seen by their employees to be fair and just. POS is increased also by perceptions that one’s supervisor is supportive because supervisors are often considered by employees to be acting on behalf of the organisation and are seen to be closely associated with senior management. Employees generally rely heavily on their supervisors’ orientation towards them as an indicator of organisational support (Eisenberger et al., 2002).

POS has been shown consistently to be associated with outcomes that are favourable to the organisation. For instance, there is evidence that POS is correlated positively to organisational commitment (e.g. Shore and Wayne, 1993), long-term obligations, organisational identification among employees, loyalty (e.g. Rhoades and Eisenberger, 2002), in-role performance (e.g. Eisenberger et al., 1986, 1990), trust in organisations (e.g. Chen et al., 2005), organisational citizenship behaviour (e.g. Moorman et al., 1998), job satisfaction and intent to remain (e.g. Stamper and Johlke, 2003). Furthermore, there is evidence that POS is correlated negatively to absenteeism (e.g. Eisenberger et al., 1986) and withdrawal (e.g. Allen et al., 2003).

Workplace bullying and POS in the teaching profession

Occupations such as teaching have been suggested to be particularly susceptible to bullying (Randall, 2001). Indeed, it has been suggested that the prevalence of bullying among teachers in Great Britain is surpassed only by the prevalence among postal/telecommunications and prison staff (Hoel and Cooper, 2000). There is evidence that employees in the education sector of several countries experience relatively high rates of bullying (e.g. Australia: Vickers, 2001; McCarthy et al., 2003; Finland: Bjorkqvist et al., 1994; the Netherlands: Hubert and van Veldhoven, 2001; the UK: Lewis, 2003; the USA: Price Spratlen, 1995). Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that schoolteachers in China (McCormack et al., 2006), Ireland (O’Moore et al., 2003), the UK (NASUWT, 1996; Edelmann and Woodall, 1997) and the USA (Blase and Blase, 2003) have been targets of workplace bullying.

A possible explanation for the relatively high rate of workplace bullying among schoolteachers lies in the nature of teacher output; specifically, its quality and quantity are difficult to measure, resulting in a high emphasis being placed on interpersonal relationships with both colleagues and superiors in performance appraisals (Hubert and van Veldhoven, 2001). The emphasis on interpersonal relationships in these types of work settings has also been discussed by Zapf (2001). The high emphasis that is placed on interpersonal relationships in the teaching profession may create an environment that is conducive to bullying (Hubert and van Veldhoven, 2001).

The teaching profession in Australia where this study was conducted has been characterised by increasing workloads and working hours (e.g. Dorman,

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2003; Thomas et al., 2003), work intensification (e.g. Roulston, 2004), additional responsibilities and activities (e.g. Moore and Knight, 2006), and stress and burnout (e.g. Howard and Johnson, 2004; Burchielli and Bartram, 2006). Managers and leaders in schools in Australia are also dealing with increasing pressures from several sources, such as autonomy in decision making, accountability and efficiency requirements (Wildy et al., 2004), with evidence in some schools of poor communications between school leaders and teachers, minimal consultation with school staff in decision making and limited access for staff to discuss problems with their school’s leaders (Dinham et al., 1995). There is also evidence in some schools of interpersonal conflicts among teachers, particularly in situations where teachers are working in teams (Main, 2007).

POS has also been established as an important variable in the teaching profession. For example, POS was found to have a significant impact on job satisfaction and career satisfaction among schoolteachers (Erdogan et al., 2004). Specifically, POS was found to buffer against or compensate for the negative effects of low work–value congruence. Schoolteachers with high levels of POS were found to be satisfied with their careers even in situations where there is low congruence between their values and those of the organisation (Erdogan et al., 2004).

Does POS moderate the relationship between bullying and intention to leave?

There is qualitative evidence that the way in which an organisation deals with incidents of emotional abuse moderates the relationship between emotional abuse and its effects on victims (Keashly, 2001). Organisational support strongly influences systemic aspects of emotional abuse at work (Keashly, 2001). For example, support from co-workers and supervisors as well as the presence and effective implementation of relevant workplace policies helps victims to cope with, and respond to, abuse at work. Indeed, the effects of emotional abuse on victims’ organisational commitment, productivity and turnover intentions are attenuated by organisational support (Keashly, 2001).

There is evidence also that instrumental support (i.e. support from co-workers, supervisors and management, such as assistance to complete tasks) moderates the effects of workplace violence on emotional well-being, somatic health and job- related affect, whereas informational support (i.e. training on how to deal with aggressive events at work) moderates the effects of workplace violence on emotional well-being (Schat and Kelloway, 2003). Specifically, among victims who reported low levels of violence, there was little difference in emotional well-being, somatic health and job-related affect between those who reported low levels of instrumental support and those who reported high levels of instrumental support. In contrast, among victims who reported high levels of violence, the differences in emotional well-being, somatic health and job-related affect were greater among victims who reported low levels of instrumental support than among victims who reported high levels of instrumental support. A similar interaction effect was found between violence and instrumental support with regard to emotional well-being.

Workplace resources (i.e. physical, intellectual, technical, financial and social) have been shown to moderate the effects of bullying on the relationship between bullying and three outcome variables (i.e. job satisfaction, depression and propensity to leave)

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(Quine, 2001). Specifically, the negative effects of bullying were greater among victims who reported low levels of the availability of workplace resources than among victims who reported high levels of the availability of workplace resources.

POS includes elements of organisational support (e.g. caring about the general satisfaction of employees, taking pride in the accomplishments of employees) that are not considered in the availability of workplace resources, instrumental support or informational support. Furthermore, POS subsumes the belief that the organisation cares about one’s well-being, considers one’s goals and values, and takes pride in one’s work-related achievements. These aspects of organisational support are important as they relate directly to the relational exchanges of social exchange theory.

Social exchange theory (Blau, 1964) provides a useful perspective for understanding the effects of POS. According to social exchange theory, relationships can be based on economic exchanges and/or social exchanges. Relationships that are based primarily on economic exchanges tend to be instrumental and short-term oriented, whereas those that are based primarily on social exchanges tend to lead to deeper levels of trust as a result of a relational bond between the parties. Social exchange involves perceptions of mutual obligations (Shore and Tetrick, 1991) that are unspecified and that imply the reciprocity norm (Gouldner, 1960). Furthermore, social exchanges tend to engender feelings of obligation and gratitude, whereas economic exchanges do not (Blau, 1964).

POS is an important type of social exchange that occurs between an organisation and its employees, because it indicates to employees that the organisation is committed to them and values them (Eisenberger et al., 1986). POS should engender feelings of obligation, gratitude and trust towards the organisation, thereby resulting in favourable outcomes for both the organisation and the employees. High levels of POS are therefore more likely than low levels of POS to make employees feel obligated to remain with and work hard for the organisation. This rationale is supported by, for example, the finding that reciprocation wariness (i.e. a generalised cautiousness in reciprocating assistance because of a fear of exploitation in interpersonal relationships; Eisenberger et al., 1987) was related negatively to the in-role job performance of retail employees when POS was low, but was related positively to their in-role job performance when POS was high. The poor performance of wary employees, stemming from their fear of exploitation in social exchange, was therefore mitigated by high POS (Lynch et al., 1999).

It is posited in the current article that POS moderates the relationship between bullying and intention to leave the organisation for both affective and cognitive reasons. Specifically, it is suggested that POS cushions victims psychologically from the effects of bullying by conveying to them that the organisation values them and cares about their well-being. Additionally, POS involves relational exchanges that create an obligation for employees to remain with the organisation based on the reciprocity norm. The following hypothesis is therefore proposed:

Hypothesis 1: The relationship between bullying and intention to leave will be moderated by POS. Specifically, the relationship between bullying and intention to leave will be stronger among victims who perceive low levels of organisational support than among victims who perceive high levels of organisational support.

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METHOD

Participants

A total of 1,293 questionnaires were distributed to teachers in government and non-government high schools in Australia. A total of 335 respondents returned useable questionnaires, representing a response rate of 26 per cent. Although this response rate may be considered low for studies in organisations in general, the sensitive nature of the issue of workplace bullying may explain the response rate. The sample comprised 240 teachers in government schools and 95 teachers in non-government schools. The sample comprised 228 females (68 per cent) and 103 males (30 per cent); four participants did not indicate their gender. There were 152 female teachers and 85 male teachers in government schools while there were 76 female teachers and 18 male teachers in non-government schools.

The average age of the participants was 44.0 years (standard deviation (SD) = 9.4 years). The average tenure was 9.5 years (SD = 7.2), and the average teaching experience was 18.2 years (SD = 10.0). A multivariate analysis of variance revealed a significant difference in age between teachers from the two types of school and non-significant differences in tenure and teaching experience. For government schools, the average age of the teachers was 45.3 years (SD = 9.0), the average tenure was 9.8 years (SD = 7.4), and the average teaching experience was 18.5 years (SD = 9.9). For non-government schools, the average age of teachers was 40.8 years (SD = 9.5), the average tenure was 8.5 years (SD = 6.4), and the average teaching experience was 17.3 years (SD = 10.2).

Measures

Dependent variable The items used in the analyses are presented in the appendix. Krausz et al.’s (1995) scale was used to measure intention to leave. The items in this scale were modified slightly, however, to better fit the teaching profession, as this scale was designed originally for the nursing profession. Specifically, ‘school’ was substituted for ‘hospital’, ‘teaching’ for ‘nursing’ and ‘department’ for ‘ward’.

Independent and moderating variables Hoel and Cooper’s (2000) revised 29-item version of Einarsen and Raknes’ (1997) NAQ was used to measure bullying. This version of the NAQ has been used in other studies (e.g. Hoel et al., 2004) and was modified slightly for use in the current study to render it more suitable for teachers. The modification was to change the illustrative examples for two of the items. Specifically, the example ‘travel expenses’ was modified to ‘teaching materials budget’ and the examples ‘overtime, night work’ were modified to ‘teaching unpopular classes.’ Although the NAQ has been used primarily in Europe, its items also seem applicable to workplaces in Australia, as workers in Australia would arguably have broadly similar notions to those in Europe as to what constitutes acceptable behaviours in the workplace. It should be noted that although Hoel and Cooper’s (2000) scale comprised four subscales, one of these sub-scales (i.e. intimidation) and other items with low loadings were not included in the analyses. The scale used in the analyses therefore contained three subscales: work-related harassment, organisational harassment and personal harassment. Respondents were asked to indicate on a 5-point Likert scale (0 = never; 4 = daily) the frequency with

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which they had been subjected to any of the listed behaviours at their workplace in the past 12 months.

Eisenberger et al.’s (1986) survey of POS was used to measure POS according to the procedure employed by Eisenberger et al. (1990), which involved selecting the nine highest loading items of the 36 items of the original scale as determined in Eisenberger et al. (1986). According to Rhoades and Eisenberger (2002), the use of shorter versions of the POS scale is not problematic because the original scale is unidimensional and has high internal reliability.

Procedure

A package containing a copy of the questionnaire, an information sheet with brief details of the research and a prepaid return envelope was placed in each teacher’s school mailbox. This data collection procedure enabled participants to complete the questionnaire at a time and place of their choice, and it assured them of anonymity as they posted the completed questionnaire directly to the researchers. All teachers were informed that participation was voluntary and that no individual or school would be identified at any stage of the research.

RESULTS

All analyses were conducted using SPSS 12.0 (Chicago, IL). Of the 335 respondents, 194 (58 per cent) reported that the main perpetrator of the bullying behaviour was of higher rank than the respondent, 87 (26 per cent) reported that the perpetrator was of the same rank, and 43 (13 per cent) reported that the perpetrator was of lower rank (11 missing data). In the majority of cases, the bullying was vertical and downward. This is consistent with most other studies of workplace bullying that have been conducted in Australia (e.g. McCarthy et al., 2003; Mayhew et al., 2004) and in various settings around the world, with the exception of Scandinavia, where research indicates that horizontal bullying (i.e. from colleagues) is as common as downward bullying (Zapf et al., 2003).

Table 1 contains the means, SD, correlations and internal reliabilities for the measured variables. As can be seen in Table 1, all of the scales had acceptable internal reliability, given that their coefficients were all greater than 0.60 (Hair et al., 1998). Bullying had a significant negative correlation with POS and a significant positive correlation with intention to leave, whereas POS had a significant negative correlation with intention to leave. Moreover, age and gender both had significant negative correlations with intention to leave, indicating thereby that younger and male teachers reported higher levels of bullying than did older and female employees.

As all of the data were obtained from the same source (i.e. victims) by using the same method, the issue arises as to whether the covariance among the constructs is an artefact of single-source common-method bias. To address this issue, a single- component test was conducted on all of the items that were retained after the principal components analyses. The results from this analysis revealed that the first component accounted for 29.1 per cent of the total variance in the items, which indicates that common source/method variance does not explain the majority of the covariance between the items.

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A principal components analysis was conducted to examine the overall structure of the measurement model. The setting used in this analysis was a varimax rotation with a six-component extraction because there were six constructs measured in the questionnaire: the four bullying subscales (i.e. work-related harassment, personal harassment, organisational harassment and intimidation), POS and intention to leave.

According to Hair et al. (1998), it is necessary to take sample size into account when determining the cut-off value for item loadings. They suggested a cut-off value of 0.30 for a sample size of 350. Additionally, Hair et al. (1998) recommended increasing the cut-off value as the number of items increases. Based on these recommendations, it was decided to use a cut-off value of 0.50 for the overall principal components analysis loadings. The final overall principal components analysis yielded a five-component varimax solution comprising organisational harassment, work-related harassment, personal harassment, POS and intention to leave. The findings from this analysis are presented in Table 2, and the final scales are presented in the Appendix.

As shown in Table 2, the POS items loaded on the first component, the work- related harassment items loaded on the second component, the organisational harassment items loaded on the third component, the personal harassment items loaded on the fourth component and the intention to leave items loaded on the fifth component. Overall scores for each of these five constructs were calculated by averaging the scores of their respective items. The overall scores were used in all of the analyses.

Regression analyses

The effects of age, gender and tenure on intention to leave were controlled by using standardised residual scores obtained from regressing intention to leave on age, gender and tenure. The independent variable (i.e. bullying) and the moderator variable (i.e. POS) were standardised, and the product term was calculated using the standardised scores (Aiken and West, 1991). A hierarchical regression analysis

TABLE 1 Means (SD), correlations* and internal reliabilities** for the measured variables

Mean (SD) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

(1) Age 44.0 (9.4) (2) Gender -0.22 (3) Tenure 9.5 (7.2) -0.02 0.05 (4) Experience 18.2 (10.0) -0.04 0.12 0.58 (5) Bullying 0.5 (0.4) -0.03 -0.16 -0.08 -0.01 (0.78) (6) POS 2.0 (0.9) -0.02 0.12 0.07 0.11 -0.41 (0.93) (7) Intention to leave 0.7 (0.8) -0.16 -0.10 -0.10 -0.01 0.40 -0.36 (0.62)

* Significance: r > 0.09, p < 0.05; r > 0.13, p < 0.01; r > 0.18, p < 0.001. ** Cronbach’s alpha for each scale is presented in parentheses on the diagonal. POS, perceived organisational support.

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revealed that POS moderated the relationship between bullying and intention to leave: for the product term, b = 0.09, p < 0.05, DR2 = 0.01. To more closely examine the moderation effect, the sample was divided into three groups according to POS scores based on the Likert scale categories (i.e. 0 = strongly disagree, 1 = disagree, 2 = neither agree nor disagree, 3 = agree and 4 = strongly agree). Specifically, the three groups were created as follows: (1) the ‘disagree’ group had POS scores less than or equal to two (n = 164); (2) the ‘neutral’ group had POS scores greater than two and less than or equal to three (n = 142); and (3) the ‘agree’ group had POS scores greater than three (n = 29).

TABLE 2 Loadings* for bullying, perceived organisational support (POS) and intention to leave items (ITL)

Components

Scale 1 2 3 4 5

OH OH1 0.74 OH2 0.62 OH3 0.64 OH4 0.61

PH PH1 0.64 PH2 0.59 PH3 0.63 PH4 0.60

WRH WRH1 0.79 WRH2 0.76 WRH3 0.70 WRH4 0.59 WRH5 0.59

POS POS1 0.77 POS2 0.76 POS3 0.86 POS4 0.82 POS5 0.85 POS6 0.82 POS7 0.79

ITL ITL1 0.57 ITL2 0.77 ITL3 0.74

* Loadings >0.50 shown. OH, organisational harassment; PH, personal harassment; WRH, work-related harassment.

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A univariate linear regression analysis was conducted with bullying on intention to leave for each of the three groups. The findings from these three analyses were as follows: (1) for the disagree group, b = 0.30, t = 3.91, p < 0.001; (2) for the neutral group, b = 0.35, t = 4.42, p < 0.001; and (3) for the agree group, b = 0.10, t = 0.52, p > 0.05. These findings indicate that the effects of bullying on intention to leave are significant for the disagree and neutral POS groups, but are not significant for the agree POS group. The hypothesis that the effects of bullying on intention to leave will be less pronounced with high levels of POS is therefore supported.

In order to gain additional insight to the hypothesised relationship among the variables of interest, three exploratory moderation analyses were conducted – one for each of the categories of bullying. These hierarchical regression analyses revealed that POS did not moderate the relationship between organisational harassment and intention to leave (b = 0.02, p > 0.05) nor the relationship between personal harassment and intention to leave (b = 0.07, p > 0.05). However, POS did moderate the relationship between work-related harassment and intention to leave: for the product term, b = 0.09, p < 0.05, DR2 = 0.01. To more closely examine the moderation effect, the sample was divided into three groups according to POS scores by using the procedure described above.

A univariate linear regression analysis was conducted with work-related harassment on intention to leave for each of the three groups. The findings from these three analyses were as follows: (1) for the disagree group, b = 0.28, t = 3.65, p < 0.001; (2) for the neutral group, b = 0.32, t = 3.96, p < 0.001; and (3) for the agree group, b = -0.02, t = -0.08, p > 0.05. These findings indicate that the effects of work- related harassment on intention to leave are significant for the disagree and neutral POS groups but are not significant for the agree POS group; that is, the effects of work-related harassment on intention to leave will be less pronounced with high levels of POS.

DISCUSSION

Workplace bullying was found to have a significant positive correlation with intention to leave, which corroborates the findings of previous studies (e.g. Djurkovic et al., 2004). A noteworthy aspect of this finding with regard to the current study is that the measure of bullying that was used did not include extreme types of bullying, such as physical abuse, being shouted at or threats of violence. The positive correlation between bullying and intention to leave reveals therefore the substantial impact that bullying can have on victims in that even less severe types of bullying are associated with victims thinking about leaving the workplace (e.g. department), the organisation, and/or the profession. This is of particular significance to occupational professions and groupings with shortages of personnel. One example is the teaching profession in several countries, including Australia (Webster et al., 2005), where the data for this study were collected. Education systems and establishments can ill afford to lose highly trained employees.

POS is a type of social exchange between employees and their organisations, whereby the employees believe, based on the way in which their organisations treat them, that the organisation values their contributions and cares for their well-being. Social exchanges lead to the development of loyalty, trust and unspecified obligations

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based on the reciprocity norm. It is arguably the case that social exchanges between employees and their organisations create an unspecified obligation, on the part of the employees, to remain with the organisation. Based on this argument, it stands to reason that POS reduces intention to leave, which is supported by the strong negative correlation that was found between POS and intention to leave.

POS moderated the relationship between workplace bullying and intention to leave. The moderation effect was such that there was a non-significant correlation between bullying and intention to leave among those employees who agreed that their organisations were supportive. In contrast, there was a significant positive correlation between bullying and intention to leave among those employees who either disagreed that their organisations were supportive or were neutral about whether their organisations were supportive. These findings indicate that high levels of POS can offset the effects of bullying on intention to leave. While bullying (in any form) and POS can occur simultaneously, it is unlikely that the perpetrator of the bullying and the source of the perceived support would be the same individual. It is possible, for example, that targets are assigned to different roles against their will by their direct supervisors while senior managers provide the targets with the means to perform the relevant tasks to the best of their abilities.

An exploratory examination of the relationship between the three categories of bullying included in this study and intention to leave revealed that POS moderated only the relationship between work-related harassment and intention to leave. This finding indicates that POS can lessen the impact of work-related harassment on the target’s intention to leave. It is plausible that POS is particularly important in the presence of work-related harassment because this type of bullying behaviour relates directly to the target’s work performance in terms of criticisms, monitoring of work, and reminders of errors and mistakes. In contrast, organisational harassment may relate more to systematic deficiencies in the organisation and less to individual performances while personal harassment relates more to the target’s personal characteristics, so leaving the organisation in such situations may be the preferred option of the target irrespective of POS.

Limitations and directions for future research

A limitation of this study is that it considered only one dependent variable (i.e. intention to leave). It would be useful for further work to be conducted on the joint effects of bullying and POS with regard to other variables, such as organisational commitment and in-role job performance, which are important to organisations. Furthermore, in this study, only one moderator variable was considered, and it would be worthwhile to examine the effects of other potential moderators, such as the personal characteristics of victims, on the relationship between bullying and various outcomes.

It should be noted, as outlined earlier in this article, that not all of the items of the NAQ were included in the analyses partly because of the relatively conservative criterion used for acceptable item loadings. The low loadings of some of the NAQ items could possibly be a result of the predominance of downward bullying, which is not the case in Scandinavia, where the NAQ was developed. Furthermore, it is plausible that the particular behaviours (e.g. intimidating behaviours) that were measured by the deleted items are not correlated to other types of bullying

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behaviours in the teaching profession in Australia. Although not all of the bullying items were subsequently included in the final analyses, this is not considered problematic, as a target need be the recipient of only any one (or more) type of bullying behaviour provided that such behaviour occurs frequently and over a period of time (Leymann, 1990).

A distinction was not made between horizontal and vertical bullying in terms of the hypothesis development as this was beyond the scope of the current study. It is possible, however, that the role of POS as a moderating variable could differ depending on whether the main perpetrator is a colleague of, or a superior to, the target. It would therefore be useful for future studies to examine this issue.

The cross-sectional design used in this study is a limitation in that it does not allow inferences to be drawn about the causal relationships between bullying, POS and intention to leave. Future research should consider using a longitudinal design that would better facilitate the drawing of causal inferences. For example, a future study might be designed such that bullying behaviours are measured in the first round of data collection, POS is measured in the second round and intention to leave in the third round. All of the data collected for this study were obtained from a single source (i.e. the victims) and via a common method (i.e. a questionnaire with Likert scales). Mono-source and common-method biases therefore may have increased both the measurement error and/or the correlations among the variables measured in this study. Although it is difficult to prove that such biases are not highly influential, the findings from the single-component principal components analysis, the other principal components analyses and the moderation analysis indicate that mono-source and common-method biases were not substantial in this study.

Practical implications of the findings

As noted in the Introduction, the teaching profession in Australia has been characterised by increasing pressures, for both teachers and school leaders, that are conducive to workplace bullying. That POS moderated the effects of workplace bullying on intention to leave provides insights as to how the negative effects of bullying can be countered. Although this study was conducted among schoolteachers, the results of this research can arguably be generalised to other occupational groups, as the variables that have been examined are not unique to schoolteachers. The findings indicate that one way in which organisations can reduce the impact of bullying on intention to leave is to engender a culture that signals to its employees that the organisation values their contributions and cares for their well-being (Brodsky, 1976; Rayner et al., 2002). These signals may be particularly valuable in situations where work-related bullying behaviours are present and may lessen staff turnover.

Leaders in an organisation play an important role in the development and maintenance of organisational culture (Schein, 1992). Leaders shape organisational culture via several mechanisms, including how they behave in general and how they respond to situations (Schein, 1992). If an organisation is to send a message to its employees that they are valued and cared for, then it is imperative that leaders themselves are aware of the various subtle behaviours that constitute bullying and that they refrain from enacting such behaviours (Fox and Stallworth, 2005). In this way,

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leaders act as role models for other members of the organisation. Furthermore, when informed of workplace bullying, leaders need to respond in ways that demonstrate to victims and other staff that the organisation supports them and will not tolerate such behaviour (Brodsky, 1976; O’Moore et al., 1998; Hoel and Salin, 2003). Better still, leaders need to proactively address workplace bullying and can do so by developing formal statements and policies that indicate clearly that bullying is unacceptable and that bullying holds serious consequences for the perpetrators. Such primary interventions play a critical role in preventing bullying behaviours in the workplace. In Australia, it is common for schools to have formal policies on general staff conduct, including workplace bullying and harassment. These policies are developed on the basis of the employer’s obligation to create and maintain a safe and healthy work environment. However, the actual application and enforcement of such policies appear to be largely at the discretion of the leadership team of each individual school.

Specific ways in which an organisation can demonstrate that it is supportive of its employees include providing avenues for victims to lodge their complaints and ensuring that these complaints are acted on in ways that signal to all employees that the organisation will protect their basic human rights. Furthermore, it is important that organisations demonstrate that they are concerned about the welfare of their employees by encouraging them, from time to time, to come forth should they have any work-related or personal problems with which the organisation can assist them. An example of such an approach is the use of employee assistance programmes. Moreover, the organisation needs to address any such problems in a sensitive and supportive manner so that victims will realise that the organisation is truly concerned about their well-being. In addition to this, the organisation needs to follow up such instances with organisation-wide communications informing all employees that the organisation abhors the ill-treatment of its employees. This type of approach to dealing with workplace bullying would arguably lead to the perception among the vast majority of employees that the organisation values them and cares about their well-being.

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their useful feedback and suggestions, which led to improvements to the article.

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APPENDIX

Description of measures

Organisational harassment

OH1: Being given tasks with clearly unreasonable targets or deadlines. OH2: Being exposed to an unmanageable workload. OH3: Systematically being required to carry out tasks which clearly fall outside your job description. OH4: Being assigned a different role against your will.

Work-related harassment

WRH1: Persistent unreasonable criticism of your work and effort. WRH2: Inappropriate attempts to find fault with your work. WRH3: Repeated reminders of your errors and mistakes. WRH4: Excessive monitoring of your work. WRH5: Being humiliated or ridiculed in connection with your work.

Personal harassment

PH1: Being the subject of excessive teasing or sarcasm. PH2: Being the target of practical jokes carried out by people you do not get along with. PH3: Offensive remarks or behaviour with reference to your race or ethnicity. PH4: Unwanted sexual attention.

Perceived organisational support

POS1: The school strongly considers my goals and values. POS2: Help is available from my school when I have a problem. POS3: The school really cares about my well-being.

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POS4: The school is willing to extend itself to help me perform to the best of my ability. POS5: The school cares about my general satisfaction at work. POS6: The school cares about my opinions. POS7: The school takes pride in my accomplishments at work.

Intention to leave

ITL1: I intend to transfer to another department at this school. ITL2: I intend to leave the school. ITL3: I intend to leave the teaching profession.

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