High performance work systems, justice, and engagement: Does bullying throw a spanner in the works?

Elfi Baillien*, Denise Salin, Caroline Bastiaensen, Guy Notelaers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


High performance work systems (HPWS) have typically been shown to positively influence employee attitudes and well-being. Research in the realm of HPWS has, in this respect, established a clear connection between these systems and employee engagement through organizational justice. In this study, we analyzed if being bullied affects this relationship. Using reasoning from Affective Events Theory (AET), we expected that the positive association between HPWS and engagement through perceptions of organizational justice is impaired by experiences of workplace bullying. Moreover, we expected a remaining direct effect between HPWS and engagement, also attenuated by bullying. Our results in a sample of service workers in Finland (n = 434) could not support the moderating role of bullying in the indirect effect. Workplace bullying did, however, impair the remaining direct relationship indicating it disrupts the positive effect of HPWS on engagement. In all, whereas HPWS were found to be beneficial for not bullied respondents, it was associated with decreased engagement for the bullied. Our findings further underscore the importance of preventing bullying in our workplaces, as it may significantly alter the outcomes of positively intended HR practices into an undesired result.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5583
Peer-reviewed scientific journalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 05.2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 314,2 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
  • workplace bullying
  • mobbing
  • high performance work practices
  • affective events
  • moderated mediation

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Leading for growth and well-being


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