Bystanders’ Experiences of Witnessing Workplace Bullying Incidents in the New Zealand Hospitality Industry: What Factors Affect Their Attitudes and Behaviours?

Wu, Linxi
Mooney, Shelagh
McIntyre, Nancy
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Master of International Hospitality Management
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Auckland University of Technology

Workplace bullying in the hospitality industry has been called an “elephant in the room” issue. The definition, causes, effects and influential factors on workplace bullying have been investigated by many scholars. However, research objectives until now, have mainly focused on victims and perpetrators, with little attention given to the bystanders, the individuals who witness the bullying. This small-scale qualitative interpretivist study aimed to investigate factors that affect bystanders’ attitudes and behaviours by conducting eight semi-structured interviews to explore the experiences of witnessing workplace bullying incidents in Auckland hospitality organisations in New Zealand. The findings suggest that the bystander effect does occur in the New Zealand hospitality industry; as bystanders, participants’ attitudes and behaviours were affected in a variety of ways: the industry working conditions, their witnessing experiences, their personality and home-country culture, their organisation’s culture, and their managerial position and visa status. The discussions offer valuable insights into workplace bullying in the hospitality industry from a bystander’s perspective. The conclusion provides practical implications for New Zealand hospitality organisations to promote helping interventions to ease workplace bullying tensions and also expands the theoretical frameworks commonly used to discuss workplace bullying.

Workplace bullying , Hospitality , Bystander effect , New Zealand
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