Workplace bullying can have devastating effects on the mental and physical health of those who are targeted, as well as having broader organisational and societal costs. Bystanders are those who witness or come to hear of bullying behaviours going on in their organisation but who are not (initially, at least) directly involved. Research tells us that bystanders can enact a variety of behaviours when they witness bullying, including stepping in to help the victim or confront the perpetrator, offering emotional support to the victim, ignoring the situation, or even joining forces with the perpetrator. However, we know little about how different bystander responses shape the effects of bullying on targets and perpetrators. In this PhD, the successful candidate will lead a programme of research to shed light into this important issue. The PhD will use quantitative methods, integrating both a longitudinal field study and an experimental vignette study. The research produced will have substantial practical value, as it can be used as the basis for designing future organisational interventions.
The successful candidate will have a strong aptitude for research design and statistics and will likely have a background in psychology or a related discipline. They will be supervised by Professor Karen Niven and Dr Sam Farley and will be situated within the Institute of Work Psychology (IWP), which is a thriving group of internationally recognised researchers with a strong PhD community. The project also offers an opportunity to collaborate with researchers at Malmo University, Sweden, including an extended research stay.
This PhD project offers the successful candidate the opportunity to forge an international collaboration with experts in workplace bullying at the Centre for Work Life and Evaluation Studies at Malmo University, Sweden, including an extended research stay there. The researchers at Malmo – Professor Tuija Muhonen, Dr Sandra Jönsson, Dr Kristoffer Holm, and Dr Rebecka Cowen Forssell – have developed significant expertise in workplace bullying and bystander behaviour and have excellent links with a range of public and private sector organisations in Sweden. Researchers at Sheffield, including Dr Farley, have a longstanding collaboration with the team at Malmo.
The plan is for the successful candidate to have an extended stay at Malmo University in the second year of their studies, so that they can collect data in Sweden with the help of the research team there. Workspace will be provided at Malmo, within the Centre, and the student would be welcomed into the PhD student network there as well as being a valued member of the Centre. Formal supervision from Professor Niven and Dr Farley in Sheffield would continue throughout the stay in Malmo, ensuring continuity of support throughout the entire PhD.