The consequences of workplace bullying: a comparative study of migrant Chinese and other workers in the New Zealand hospitality industry

Liu, Che
Poulston, Jill
Kim, Peter
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Master of International Hospitality Management
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Auckland University of Technology

In the New Zealand hospitality industry, workplace bullying and its influences have been researched extensively (Bentley et al., 2012; O'Driscoll et al., 2011); the literature (Janta, 2011; Taran & Geronomi, 2002) notes that migrant workers are often the target of bullying in the hospitality industry. As a fast-growing ethnic population group in New Zealand, however, Chinese migrant workers have not previously been a research target in regards to workplace bullying. Therefore, the objective of this study is to determine the prevalence of perceived workplace bullying against Chinese migrant workers in the New Zealand hospitality industry and to examine the relationship between workplace bullying and its consequences in terms of organisational citizenship behaviour-individual (OCBI), turnover intention and negative word of mouth reported by employees. Four hypotheses were suggested to achieve this objective. This study adopted a quantitative research approach and recruited 64 Chinese respondents and 59 non-Chinese respondents engaged in the hospitality industry in Auckland, New Zealand. Following the data analysis, the results of both groups were discussed and compared in terms of their consistency with the findings of the extant literature. The key points of the study are summarised as follows:

Firstly, workplace bullying in New Zealand has become a severe issue, with the percentage of employees who have suffered workplace bullying reflecting a sharp increase compared to Bentley et al.’s (2009) survey conducted five years ago. The main reason for this change may be the large number of Chinese migrant workers, who suffer high levels of workplace bullying.

Secondly, and as discussed later in this dissertation, Chinese people have unique characteristics, some of which aggravate the levels of workplace bullying. Language barriers limit their ability to interact with local communities, which results in unfair treatment that includes less training and advancement opportunities, and workplace bullying. Short-term visas mean that they are dependent on their employers to obtain New Zealand permanent residency and are therefore compelled to suffer bullying and abuse when this occurs. In addition, most Chinese migrant workers are engaged in the food and beverage sector, which has higher levels of workplace bullying than other sectors.

Finally, the results of this study show that employees who suffer more workplace bullying tend to withhold their OCBI, have high turnover intention and spread negative word of mouth. Due to their suffering higher levels of workplace bullying, Chinese migrant workers are more likely to think about leaving, or actually leave their current organisations, and complain about their company or supervisor. Despite this, they appear to maintain high OCBI regardless of whether or not they have been bullied.

Workplace bullying , Hospitality , Migrant Chinese
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