Purpose: In this paper the authors argue that organizational climate and workplace bullying are connected, intertwined and affect each other. More precisely, the focus of the present study is how a hostile climate at work is related to workplace bullying. A hostile work climate is defined as an affective organizational climate permeated by distrust, suspicion and antagonism. The authors tested four hypotheses about the reciprocal effects and possible gender differences.
Design/methodology/approach: The study is based on a longitudinal probability sample of the Swedish workforce (n = 1,095). Controlling for age, the authors used structural equation modelling and cross-lagged structural regression models to assess the reciprocal effects of a hostile work climate on workplace bullying. Gender was added as a moderator to test two of the hypotheses.
Findings: The results showed a strong reciprocal effect, meaning there were significant associations between a hostile work climate and subsequent bullying, β = 0.12, p = 0.007, and between baseline bullying and a subsequent hostile work climate, β = 0.15, p = 0.002. The forward association between a hostile work climate and bullying depended on gender, β = −0.23, p < 0.001.
Originality/value: The findings point to a possible vicious circle where a hostile work climate increases the risk of bullying, which in turn risks creating an even more hostile work climate. Furthermore, the findings point to gender differences in bullying, showing that the effect of a hostile work climate on workplace bullying was stronger for men.
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