Zagraniczne badania nad mobbingiem akademickim

mobbing lektura

E. Y. Tigrel,O. Kokalan, – w: Academic Mobbing in Turkey

International Journal of Behavioral, Cognitive, Educational and Psychological Sciences 1:2 2009


The main focus of this study will be the mobbing behaviors within the universities, in academic environment. Westhues [21] is one of the most important authors that researched and wrote about the mobbing in academia. After conducting many researches, he concluded that organizations, in which the job security is high, performance measures are subjective and individual and organizational goals challenge, are more prone to mobbing.

He also mentioned about the bureaucratic organizations that provide mobbing behaviors more. Another issue that researches showed is that mobbing occurs more in non-profit organizations than private companies. All of these criteria match with the education sector. 14.1% of the mobbing victims of 2400 people that Leymann [6] used for his study were working in schools, universities and other educational organizations. Gravois [19] also said that most of the Leymann’s studies were conducted among universities which are highly representative for workplace mobbing.

Westhues [22] identified the main goals of universities as maintaing the soul of objectivity and freedom of mind; but mobbing damages these goals by creating subjective and dependent minds. He also claimed that “College and university campuses are perfect breeding grounds for the culture of mobbing”. It can be said that the organization structure of education sector is preparing an utilizable base for mobbing.

Many researchers studied mobbing in academy abroad such as Raskauskas [33] who studied in New Zealand universities and observed that 65.3% of academic personnel had been mobbed. They were asked the mobbing methods and the most popular ones were diluted authority, being embarrassed in front of others, being yelled by colleagues. The reactions of the victims were reporting to an authority, union or human resource department.

Another study was conducted in UK by Boynton [34]. He founded that between 12-25% academic personnel were subjected to mobbing through lowering the performance grades, gossips, verbal harassments and attacks on race and sex. The victims reacted to the mobbing by leaving the organization or trying to leave.

The Finnish study identified the difference between the males and females in terms of mobbing victims and showed that 30% of men were subjected to mobbing while 55% of women had to deal with it [35]. Finally, a Norwegian study found that 5.2% of university personnel were subjected to mobbing [36].

Westhues [21] observed that professors, who are famous, have many publications, high evaluation scores, athletic abilities, high salary, family wealth, good looking, have children, frequently complain, even the ones with different accents, are getting mobbed more.

In universities, the popular methods of mobbing are blaming for plagiarism, sleeping with students or misusing the funds.

Gravois [29] applied the stages of mobbing to the universities by giving examples of the used methods in each stage. In the first stage, the victim is left out of guest lists, is exposed to rolling eyes during meetings and starts to feel that people dislike him/her. In the second stage, the victim’s administrative duties are being cancelled or misplaced, the class schedules are getting worse and the parking space is moved to a far away location. At the third stage, everything is going to be harsher and more harmful.

The victim is blamed for disgracing things like plagiarism, making racial and sexual harassments, misusing the university funds and misbehaving toward students. All of these behaviors affect the victim’s psychology and he/she starts to have angry toward colleagues and at that time the gossips become larger by using the anger of the victim as a support of their actions by convincing the others. At the next stage, the administrative level enters to the subject and the victim has to defend himself/herself to a disciplinary committee, ethics tribunal or any other judgment court of the university.

Olson [37] gave an example about an associate professor who was exposed to mobbing by his colleague who started a gossip against him about changing the evaluation results by erasing negative ones. He used students for this bad campaign by guiding them to fill complaint letters which grew the situation as a snowball. They convinced everyone about this lie and associate professor’s name was damaged but at the end it was understood that he was innocent.

Another example is about a 69 year old mathematics professor working at Carbondale for 27 years who has the highest evaluation marks. His 15 colleagues complained about him by claiming that many faults such as bullying, grabbing professors to talk union issues, etc. however, the professor defended himself and proved that he is innocent. After a while, he had to defend himself again for another complaint letter which was accusing him of sexual harassment.

Although he rebutted all of the accusations, his office was moved to an isolated place far away from others. This example shows that high performance, success even the seniority can not prevent to be subjected to mobbing [29].

Sutherland [38] wrote his own experiences in university about mobbing. First mobbing action, which was taken by colleagues of a junior assistant lecturer, ended with the reassignment of the assistant. The second one was a female senior colleague who had to retire early because of a new intellectual order, imposed by new administrative staff who believed that she was old school. He also witnessed other cases which were because of jealous colleagues of successful academicians.

Cabaros and Rodriguez [39] made a research about mobbing at universities and conducted a survey on 7,432 people from administration and service personnel and educative and investigative personnel in the universities of Santiago de Compostela, Vigo and Coruna. The 54% of victims were female, 70% of them were either married or had a partner and between 38 and 42 years old. The authors claimed that the reason why females are being exposed to mobbing more is that they do not have enough protection in the workplace. According to Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee, women are the victims of 75-80% of the mobbing cases in universities [40].

Another interesting thing is that the great portion of mobbers is also women. Stokes and Klein [40] mentioned about a research stating that the mobbing techniques are sneaky and collective actions which can be taken by women in general.

The victims in university were asked which type of behaviors that they were subjected and the most frequent behaviors were hiding useful information from the victims, critics of the work, ignorance, snubbing, prevention of career development, rejection of ideas, undervaluing performance, accusation of mistakes and errors and demoralizing. Attacks on religion, race, nationality, physical appearance and physical violence are the lees used ones in academic environment. The victims are being selected due to high performance and success, in other words, because of envy.

Most common results of mobbing in universities were absenteeism, long illness leaves, position or profession changes and decreasing working performance [39].


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