Research Article

Antecedents of Bullying in the South African Workplace: Societal Context Matters

Published in: Africa Journal of Management
Volume 2, issue 1, 2016, pages: 50–72
DOI: 10.1080/23322373.2015.1126500
Author(s): Ngao MotseiDepartment of Human Resource Management, South Africa, Stella M. NkomoDepartment of Human Resource Management, South Africa


While there is a growing interest in the role of organizational context in workplace bullying, little is known about how societal context may influence perceptions of bullying in organizations. Context is defined as situational factors in the external environment which act as stimuli to how individuals in organizations may behave. Thus, the purpose of this study is to enrich theory on the influence of context in workplace bullying by exploring what participants perceive to be organizational antecedents of bullying in the workplace, with specific reference to South Africa. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with targets and human resources professionals and through focus group discussions with bystanders. Salin's framework was used to structure the interview questions, the focus group agenda, and for initial data analysis. The key findings point to the importance of explicitly incorporating societal context in understanding organizational factors which make bullying possible and more likely to occur. The study makes a significant theoretical contribution by expanding Salin's framework by including societal context as a significant element in understanding the organizational antecedents of bullying in the workplace.

Get new issue alerts for Africa Journal of Management