Workplace bullying adds significantly to toxicity in workplaces. The present phenomenological study aims to unravel the experiences of primary school teachers who have faced bullying at work. Such studies in India are still sparse, and in-depth qualitative examination of the target’s experiences provides deeper insight into their view regarding anomalous behaviours and bullies. Semi-structured interviews of seven teachers were conducted and analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The analysis resulted in three themes: Workplace dynamics,” “I can tell what their problem is,” and “Coping with the problem.” The identified acts were linked to the extant model (Duluth model) describing the power control wheel at work. The researchers interpreted the bullied teachers' lived experiences to construe the affected teachers' behavioural, perceptual, and emotional responses. The findings reaffirm the existence of bullies in a teaching environment. Teachers with longer years of service acted as bullies in all the cases, and two participants just discussed Principal-on-teacher bullying. The study discusses how identified bullying acts can be categorized into themes of the power-control wheel at work. Studies on bullying in cultures with high power distance are limited and provide limited evidence on how the bullying behaviours are comparable to the acts constituting other abusive relationships.


workplace bullying, lived experiences, interpretative phenomenological analysis, Indian school teachers, coping, high power distance

Author Bio(s)

Mridul has recently joined Lovely Professional University as Assistant Professor after submission of her PhD thesis. Prior to that, she was a doctoral student in Central University of Himachal Pradesh. She received a master’s degree in Management (Major: Human Resource Management, Minor: Marketing) from Central University of Himachal Pradesh. She has teaching experience (Assistant Professor) of 1.5 years. She has qualified UGC-NET in Management four times. Her doctoral thesis work is on workplace bullying and related factors. Her interest areas include forms of workplace mistreatment, well-being at work, mental health. Please direct correspondence to serenemridul@gmail.com

Dr. Aditi Sharma is an Assistant Professor at Central University of Himachal Pradesh. She has over 10 years’ experience in academics. Her research interests include organizational culture, organizational stressors, women safety at work and leadership. Please direct correspondence to draditisharmacuhp@gmail.com


Funding Information: Mridul is a recipient of Indian Council of Social Science Research Doctoral Fellowship. Her article is largely an outcome of his/her doctoral work sponsored by ICSSR.

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