I’ve blogged about staff bullying in schools before, so it won’t come as a surprise that it goes on in Universities, despite the usual policies against it. As one website (bulliedacademics.blogspot.com) states:
'The bullying of academics follows a pattern of horrendous, Orwellian elimination rituals, often hidden from the public'.
Nevertheless, there are some Universities that actually study workplace bullying. For example, the 8th International Conference on Workplace Bullying and Harassment is being hosted this June by at the University of Copenhagen.
What do you mean you’ve never heard of it?
Okay. Then you must remember the 7th International Conference on Workplace Bullying and Harassment hosted last June by the Centre for Research on Workplace Behaviours at the University of Glamorgan Business School, Cardiff?
Missed that one too, huh?
With the resources they have to collate valuable information, I can’t help feeling that University research facilities stop short. They’ll calculate the organisational and societal cost of bullying. They’ll tally up the risk factors. They’ll whisk their tape measures out and size workplace bullying up. And what do they do with their annual percentages and pie charts? I guess they’re published in some obscure academic journal with the conclusion: ‘Bullying costs companies and employees in a variety of ways.’
Maybe it’s not the lecturer's or student's job figure out how to stop it. Universities are, after all, academic institutions above businesses. It’s their job to come up with new and fashionable theory. It’s not a requirement to establish whether anything works.
But I can’t believe they’ll come up with anything truly groundbreaking unless they go further than creating graphs and posing pre-prepared questions to employees. They need to get hands-on with businesses.
They could, of course, start with their own.
Perhaps the first step for Universities is to recognise that they are businesses and that writing policies or even theoretical papers which prove little more than the writer thought about workplace bullying once-upon-a-time do little more than prove they’re closer to modern business than I’m sure they’d care to admit.