BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Despite resistance to bullying from both
employers and employees, many workplace bullies achieve high levels
of career success, according to a new study from the University at
Buffalo School of Management.
Published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology, the study
found that some workplace bullies have high social skill that they
use to strategically abuse their coworkers, yet still receive
positive evaluations from their supervisors.
The study marks the first attempt to measure the relationship
between being a bully and job performance. It offers an initial
explanation of why bullies thrive in the workplace despite
organizational attempts to sanction bullying behaviors.
“Many bullies can be seen as charming and friendly, but
they are highly destructive and can manipulate others into
providing them with the resources they need to get ahead,”
says the study’s co-author, Darren Treadway, PhD, associate
professor of organization and human resources in the UB School of
Workplace bullying is pervasive. The study has noted that as
many as half of all employees in the U.S. have witnessed bullying
at work, and 35 percent have been the target of bullying.
The researchers collected behavioral and job performance data
over two time periods from 54 employees at a mental health
organization in the northwest U.S. to capture the individual
differences and social perception of bullies in the workplace.
Regression analyses were conducted on this sample size, consistent
with previous studies.
The results showed a strong correlation between bullying, social
competence and positive job evaluations.
Treadway says the findings are relevant beyond the health
services industry and that companies should limit bullying behavior
while rewarding high-performing employees.
“Employers can work to reduce the prevalence by finding
organizationally appropriate ways for employees to achieve their
goals, by incorporating measures of civility and camaraderie into
performance evaluations, and by helping staff to develop the skills
needed to manage bullies,” says Treadway.
Future research, he says, should focus on how bullies select
Treadway collaborated on the study with Brooke Shaughnessy, PhD,
postdoctoral researcher for the chair of Research and Science
Management, Technical University of Munich School of Management,
Germany; Jacob Breland, PhD, assistant professor of management,
Youngstown State University; Jun Yang, assistant professor, Renmin
University of China, China; and Maiyuwai Reeves, PhD student, UB
School of Management Department of Organization and Human
The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on
real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global
perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also
has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times,
Forbes and the Wall Street Journal for the quality of its programs
and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more
information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.