March 2nd, 2011

Expert on workplace bullying to address hot topic at MTSU March 17

Dr. Gary Namie, nationally recognized expert on bullying, will speak at Middle Tennessee State University on Thursday, March 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the State Farm Room of the Business and Aerospace Building. The title of his presentation is “Take a Stand: Stop Bullying.” The event, sponsored by the Distinguished Speaker Series and the Jennings A. Jones College of Business, will be free and open to the public.

Namie directs a national network of citizen lobbyists, which is working to pass into law the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill. He taught the first U.S. university course on workplace bullying and was an expert witness in the nation’s first “bullying trial” in Indiana.

Namie and his wife, Dr. Ruth Namie, produce information on eight public websites devoted to education about bullying for citizens, lawmakers, unions and employers. Their work has been featured on “Today,” “Good Morning America,” CNN, NPR and in newspapers across the country.

To ease traffic congestion caused by construction in the area, visitors attending the event may park in the large parking lot east of Rutherford Boulevard and ride the Raider Xpress shuttle to the Business and Aerospace Building.

For more information, contact Dr. Jackie Gilbert in the Jones College of Business at 615-898-5418. You also may check out Gilbert’s blog on bullying.



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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 at 10:00 am and is filed under Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2, WBI in the News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. J. says:

    It is fascinating, and a little surprising, that a college of business is sponsoring an anti-bullying event. It’s a lot surprising, in fact. The college of business at MTSU must be far more forward thinking and advanced than most of the business colleges in the region. Bullying in universities is epidemic and it appears to be particularly bad in some colleges of business.

    • Jay Jacobus says:

      But if a call to action brings support, we should keep an open mind.

      Who better than a drunk to attend an AA meeting?

      • kachina says:

        Addressing bullying is good business practice. If people are treated respectfully they will naturally be more engaged and productive. That should be sufficient reason to promote anti-bullying strategies even to for those who couldn’t care less about ethics and morals. The only short-lived plus to bullying is the ego boost and security it gives the functionally inadequate perpetrator.

        I think the biggest challenge to overcome is the generalized fear of confrontation. Bullies rely on not being held accountable

      • J. says:

        True. I have a slight fear they will learn to do it better, but it’s better than nothing. I am horrified by the ethics displayed in colleges of business and bullying is among the worst of the behaviors. Too many business faculty members and administrators would find themselves on the anti-worker side of things.

      • kachina says:

        Not if they are well educated on business principles like Enterprise Risk Management, corporate sustainability, employee engagement, and the good old botom line. Bullying only makes sense if you are in business for illegitimate reasons. There is no real argument FOR tolerating violence.

      • Jay Jacobus says:

        There must be arguments for violence and intimidation otherwsie all the leaders from hell (Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Saddam Husein, Kim Jong il, etc.) would not have used them. Many leaders would rather be feared than loved.

        In the US we have protections from government abuses, but corporate abuses are allowed. If a boss wants you to do something without question, he will attempt to make you afraid.

        If I can’t answer fear with fear then I am powerless to stand up to a tyrant who has the power to punish, fire, exclude, withhold, assign and degrade.

        If anyone can rescue me from my hell, please do so. But don’t tell me to stand up for myself. I’ve been standing up and no one is paying attention.

      • kachina says:

        Oh, there are arguments…they’re just not legitimate for business or public service purposes. If you are employed by a tyrant who is in business for his own nefarious purposes and you are not behaving in accordance with those objectives, expect to get mowed down. It will only get worse if you stay.

        Running away may be your best bet when standing up is literally putting you on the firing line. That’s what I did. It cost me big time, but I’m alive to tell the tale and I’m not sure I would be if I’d stayed. And no, it’s not fair, but it is real.

      • Jay Jacobus says:

        Some people find another job and leave, other people can’t find work and stay and a few people become violent. Only the first is acceptable.

        When I was attacked at AIG, I left. When I was pressured into taking an unwanted job at Firemans Fund, I left. When I couldn’t find a job while working for a bully at AON, I stayed.

        Bullies are not required to leave a person any options.

        Are unemployed victims the fault of the victims?

      • J. says:

        There is no reason to tolerate bullying and bullying will necessarily increase the costs of doing business. Faculty members and administrators in colleges of business are well educated in their disciplines (most of them), but what should happen and what does happen are often two very different things. After seeing the types of unethical and damaging practices in big business in the news, no one should be very surprised about poor ethics and bullying in colleges and schools of business.

        Universities are closed to the outside world and very few people know, or care, what goes on inside. Administrators like it that way, since it keeps them from being held accountable. This is particularly unfortunate in state universities, since the tax payers get the bill.

        I work in a college of business that has a so-called “ethicist.” As far as I can tell, he has no qualifications in ethics, academic or otherwise. He once wrote a conference paper on how to discriminate without getting caught (that isn’t the title). These people are not fired, punished, or stopped because upper administration is worse, or at least as bad. The president is an ex-business dean who was accused of violent behavior by employees at his former university. Unfortunately, no one succeeded in getting anything to stick. He is also very well connected politically.

        Bullying in universities is common practice, although some are far worse than others. I visited Dr. Gilbert’s blog and I do not doubt her intentions. However, I know how the academic system works. The presentation’s message will be for the members of the public, university administrators will not take up anti-bullying. What is taught is not necessarily what is practiced.

      • kachina says:

        The more people are educated and informed about the issue, the greater the likelihood they will recognize it when it happens to them or near them. Knowledge is powerful and can prevent damage to human beings. Group courage CAN overcome bullying if the group is cohesive and aware. I don’t think there’s any expectation that bullying behaviour will be abandoned subsequent to a flash of insight and remorse…

    • J. says:

      I agree we need far more education on the issue. I believe education of the general population will, over time, be very beneficial. However, I am not optimistic about academia. Information will not be enough to stop, or even slow, bullying in higher education. The culture is the problem, not a lack of knowledge. Bullying and abuse are almost fundamental aspects of the culture of academia. I do know some bullies in my institution who would leave an anti-bullying presentation with a far better understanding of how to be a more damaging and successful bully. They would be educated and informed, but they would use the knowledge for destructive purposes.

      Courage is rare among university faculty members (not unheard of, but not common), at least not in my roughly 15 years of experience. Most of them (not all) will look the other way, or help a bullying administrator for some short term gain. They have been taught, from graduate school through the rest of their careers, that giving in to abuse is the only way to remain employed. Administrators, and some senior faculty, use this belief to control those under them. Also, members of the various academic disciplines do not tend to like each other and there is often a great deal of resentment due to the differences in pay, so they almost never organize as a cohesive group (I have seen it once in my career). That said, I do believe educating people is essential, but I have no illusions about changes in academe.

      • Jay Jacobus says:

        What we need is preventive measures that prohibits anyone from abusing their power.

        I know that this will put us at a competitive disadvantage with China where abuse of power is well know. Nevertheless, we are a democracy and in a democracy abuse of power should be illegal.

        Perhaps the people in power will lose something, but those of us not in power will offset that loss a hundred fold with better opportunities.

        Abuse of power is a human rights violation and I don’t want the US to support it.

      • kachina says:

        Actually, treating workers well increases productivity. More time spent doing legitimate work, less on defensive manoeuvering. Workers sleep well, get sick less often, suffer fewer costly deaths and disabilities…everyone wins.

        Of course, the unenlightened will argue that you have to mistreat people to get them to “behave”….but I thought we learned that lesson with child abuse. And domestic abuse. And slavery. Abuse doesn’t work. Some people may find it amusing, but it doesn’t accomplish anything productive in the real world. Only on the inside of an unenlightened mind does the delusion gain traction.

      • J. says:

        Kachina raises an issue that I have been thinking about. The lack of productivity is one potential cost to employers who allow or encourage bullying. Bullying is used to control the target’s behavior. However, we have not managed to end child abuse, domestic violence, or even slavery. We have only succeeded in criminalizing and sometimes punishing them. Maybe bullying should be criminalized. I cannot imagine it happening, but I think I like the idea. It’s easier to sue a convicted criminal for damages than someone who has not committed a crime, so there would be no loss to those who needed civil damages.

        Bullying will, necessarily, reduce productivity and will lead to other costs. After watching what goes on in many universities and experiencing bullying, I am not sure productivity is necessarily a goal for many academic administrators. The appearance of productivity is adequate for them and that is easily generated in a university. In the case of public workers, state university employees included, there is usually little or no cost to the agency or institution as a body – the state pays (tax payers). There may be little incentive for big businesses as well, but for different reasons. A business that is too big, or too complex, to fail is too big and too complex to worry about the harm done in bullying its employees – it would take an auditor to bring it to their attention.

        As regards educational institutions, the goal of enlightenment may be hopeless since the entire system of higher education is archaic. The system moves slightly slower than a glacier before global warming.

      • kachina says:

        Society is made up of human beings, and we know that change is hard. There will be resistance.

        Overcoming bullying is a huge societal goal, and there will be casualties along the way. I am one, but it doesn’t make me less determined to see the change that supports human dignity, human rights, social justice and assurances that those who wield power are compelled to do so responsibly. Every small effort toward that goal is worth it.

  2. ES says:

    I worked for Timberland the boot company and was bullied by my manager, talking to Timberland HR, I that this had been going on for the last 20 years, Timberland chose to do nothing about the harassment by this manager. Timberland supposedly prides itself on (very publically) on being an ethical company that cares for its employees. Publically Timberlands message is clear that harassment is not tolerated.

    Sadly what I found out the truth that Timberlands ethics policy is nothing more than a marketing tool to trick the consumer into thinking the corporation is somehow better for the world and hence buying their product supports that model that a corporation can be ethical and profitable, and most people in the world fall for it.

    • kachina says:

      Individuals can talk a good game, corporate entities can write good policies and values statements and whatever else they choose, but when the actions are called to account we really see who we are dealing with. Words are just words. Watch how they walk. Like the intoxicated miscreants they are (if that’s what they are).

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