Workplace bullying across the globe: a cross-cultural comparison

Denise Salin, Renee Cowan, Oluwakemi Adewumi, Eleni Apospori, Jaime Bochantin, Premilla D'Cruz, Nikola Djurkovic, Katarzyna Durniat, Jordi Escartín, Jing Guo, Idil Išik, Sabine T. Koeszegi, Darcy McCormack, Silvia Inés Monserrat, Eva Zedlacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to analyze cross-national and cross-cultural similarities and differences in perceptions and conceptualizations of workplace bullying among human resource professionals (HRPs). Particular emphasis was given to what kind of behaviors are considered as bullying in different countries and what criteria interviewees use to decide whether a particular behavior is bullying or not.

HRPs in 13 different countries/regions (n=199), spanning all continents and all GLOBE cultural clusters (House et al., 2004), were interviewed and a qualitative content analysis was carried out.

Whereas interviewees across the different countries largely saw personal harassment and physical intimidation as bullying, work-related negative acts and social exclusion were construed very differently in the different countries. Repetition, negative effects on the target, intention to harm, and lack of a business case were decision criteria typically used by interviewees across the globe – other criteria varied by country.

Practical implications
The results help HRPs working in multinational organizations understand different perceptions of negative acts.

The findings point to the importance of cultural factors, such as power distance and performance orientation, and other contextual factors, such as economy and legislation for understanding varying conceptualizations of bullying.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalPersonnel Review
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)204-219
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Cross-cultural comparison
  • Power distance
  • Qualitative
  • Workplace bullying
  • Performance orientation
  • Harassment
  • Human resource professionals

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

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