Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Judith McKay

Second Advisor

Robin Cooper

Third Advisor

Robert J. Witheridge


bystanders, organizational climate, organizational leadership, witnesses, workplace bullying, workplace conflict


Bullying in the workplace is prevalent in the United States and its impact is harmful not only to targets, but to the organization and its members. Through exploring the experiences of employees who self- identify with having witnessed bullying in the workplace, this transcendental phenomenological study was guided by the following two-part research question: “What is the experience of witnessing bullying in the workplace and how do participants describe their organizations where workplace bullying was witnessed?” The carefully constructed wording of my research question indicates that I was not searching for causal relationships. Instead, I was open to whatever came forth from participants’ comprehensive descriptions of their experience of witnessing workplace bullying and of the organizations where their experiences occurred. The study included a sample of 12 mid-career professionals drawn from numerous industries and from across various regions of the United States. Lengthy phenomenological interviews were conducted by telephone and the transcribed interviews were analyzed using The Modification of the Van Kaam Method (Moustakas, 1994). The analysis found four themes that weaved through all twelve of the participants. They are: 1) Making Sense through Metaphors; 2) Emotional Impact; 3) Taking an Intentional Stance; and 4) Awareness of Organizational Trustworthiness. By providing fresh understandings and perspectives regarding organizations where bullying exists and the impact that bullying has on the organization and its employees, the findings are valuable to the field of conflict analysis and resolution.

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