July 7th, 2017

2017 WBI U.S. Survey: Workplace Bullies Are Still Mostly Bosses

2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey
Perpetrator Rank & Numbers

61% of bullies are bosses
in 63% of incidents the perpetrator operates alone

The Workplace Bullying Institute commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct the 2017 national scientific U.S. survey across two days in late April. The stratified random sample of 1,008 individuals represented all adult Americans. [Zogby methodology and sample details here.] It was WBI’s fourth national survey.

We used the definition of workplace bullying that matches perfectly the definition codified in the Healthy Workplace Bill. Bullying is repeated mistreatment but also “abusive conduct.” We asked American survey respondents to consider only the most serious forms of bullying.

Mobbing was the term adopted by Heinz Leymann to describe health-harming abusive conduct at work. Mobbing implies that there are multiple perpetrators, a “gang.” Mobbing preceded the term workplace bullying historically. However, WBI has consistently defined bullying as committed by one or more persons. Bullying nearly always escalates to engage more than one person who joins the instigator to torment the target.

For this Survey question, the response categories allowed respondents familiar with bullying either directly or indirectly as witnesses [N = 374 with no experience respondents and “not sure” respondents deleted] to comment on both number of perpetrators and the organizational rank(s) of the bullies.

Wording of the Rank Question: Who was (were) the principal perpetrator(s)?

From the above table, we can say the following:

• 63% of cases involved single perpetrators
• 37% of cases involved multiple perpetrators

• 61% of perpetrators had a higher rank then their targets
• 33% of perpetrators were peers with the same rank as their targets
• 6% of perpetrators were subordinates who bullied targets with higher rank

In 7% of cases, the bullying was generated by a combination of perpetrators operating at different levels of the organization – bosses, peers, and subordinates.

Gary Namie, PhD
WBI Research Director

Download the pdf version of these Rank & Number findings.

View findings related to other questions asked in the 2017 Survey.

Download the complete report of the 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey.


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This entry was posted on Friday, July 7th, 2017 at 10:50 am and is filed under WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies. 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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