An Industrial Relations Perspective of Workplace Bullying
Workplace bullying research shares some common ground with the study of industrial relations. Obviously, both are concerned with employment. Both are related to some form and degree of confl ict at work, and whether and how it might be resolved. Both recognise an imbalance of power as a central element of their analyses; and both, at least in Britain-where the bullying of subordinates by managers is the predominant pattern-are primarily focused on the relationship between managers and workers. Yet there has been little attempt to bring the two fi elds of study together. There are, of course, important differences. Workplace bullying is a much newer and obviously much more specifi c area of study. Whilst this has drawn heavily on psychological and social psychological perspectives with attention concentrated on the micro-level processes, industrial relations has had workplace, sectoral, national, and international concerns and has drawn on different academic disciplines to inform its approach. However, these differences in conjunction with the similarities add interest to the question of whether new areas of understanding could be opened up in both fi elds by exploring workplace bullying issues within the context of industrial relations. This particular chapter attempts to answer part of that question by indicating some of the ways in which industrial relations might contribute to the workplace bullying debate.