Original Research

Prevalence of workplace bullying of South African employees

Leanri Cunniff, Karina Mostert
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 10, No 1 | a450 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v10i1.450 | © 2012 Leanri Cunniff, Karina Mostert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 November 2011 | Published: 21 September 2012

About the author(s)

Leanri Cunniff, Research Unit for Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
Karina Mostert, Research Unit for Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


Orientation: Workplace bullying has negative physical and psychological effects on employees and several negative effects on organisations.

Research purpose: The purpose of the research was to determine the prevalence of workplace bullying in South Africa and whether there are differences in employees’ experiences of bullying with regard to socio-demographic characteristics, sense of coherence (SOC) and diversity experiences.

Motivation for the study: This study intended to draw attention to the implications and negative effects of workplace bullying and to determine whether employees with certain socio-demographic characteristics, SOC levels and diversity experiences experience higher levels of bullying than others do.

Research design, approach and method: The researchers used a cross-sectional field survey approach. They used an availability sample (N = 13 911). They computed frequencies to determine the prevalence of workplace bullying and used a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and analyses of variance (ANOVAs) to determine the differences between the groups.

Main findings: The results showed that 31.1% of the sample had experienced workplace bullying. The researchers found significant differences between all the socio-demographic groups. Participants with higher levels of SOC, and who experienced diversity positively, reported lower levels of workplace bullying.

Practical/managerial implications: Employers need to realise that workplace bullying is a common problem amongst South African employees and should ensure that they have the necessary prevention methods.

Contribution/value-add: This study contributes to the limited research on the prevalence of workplace bullying and its relationship with SOC and diversity experiences in the South African workplace.


diversity experiences; sense of coherence; socio-demographic characteristics; socio-demographic groups; workplace bullying


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