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Category: Business

Autor: anton 02 December 2010

Words: 4841 | Pages: 20











It is possible that most of us; the students, the employees or even some academicians don’t know the term “mobbing”. Mobbing is a new term in today’s management issues. The term comes from other fields of study, i.e.; behavioral sciences.

Mobbing basically refers to an attacking behavior. Mobbing was used firstly to describe the attacks from a smaller group of animals directed against one single larger animal. Later on, this animal behavior term was carried on to child behavior, and referred to the very destructive behaviors of a group of children towards another child.

Dramatically; similar type of behavior was observed in grown-ups’ workplace life and the term “mobbing” gained another definition to its literature. The observations in the workplaces were aiming to eliminate one or seldom more than one employee from the organization. This behavior, mobbing, can be briefly described as psychological terror at work place. More detailed definitions will be covered later on in the paper.

Another issue to take into consideration is the importance of mobbing. It has negative effects on not only on the employee but also on the workplace and the organizations long term costs. It is important both to prevent mobbing as well as ending the continuing mobbing acts in the workplace. Many effects of mobbing are observed already some of which are increased long-term costs for the organization, decreased employee motivation, increased employee turn-over. Many more effects will be taken into deeper questioning and will be provided with more information later on in the text content.

Since mobbing is a new term and there hasn’t been any sufficient research ended to provide us with rich information. Nevertheless many sources are present to help us understand the term mobbing fully and with out any doubt. As time passes and the society will get more and more concerned in mobbing issue, the researches and the data and facts about mobbing will be more and richer for sure.

Thus mobbing may be seen as a minor problem, it has a much more negative effect compared to its size. We hope that in these globalizing and competitive markets, organizations will get more and more aware of the term “mobbing” and prevent loss of efficiency and prevent the increase of costs and become a strong member, at least a member without weaknesses of this new market economy and achieve to operate in the long term.


Mobbing has been defined in management science as well as child behavioral sciences and animal behavioral sciences. Mobbing’s all definitions will be listed below according to their field of study and their meaning.

Animal Behavioral Sciences:

Mobbing was used to describe the animal group behavior in which a group of smaller animals come together and attack one single larger animal. This attacking action was referred to as “mobbing”.

Child Behavior Sciences:

After the animal behavior definition, the similar kind of attacks and actions were observed for the children. There was a similar communication between children. At that time mobbing had gained another definition to its literature. The new definition was: the very destructive behavior of small groups of children directed against a single child.

Management Sciences:

The field which has added various definitions to mobbing literature is the management sciences. There are so many definitions of mobbing, from long to short, abstract to concrete, from many sentences long to two words long. We will list the most helpful and useful definitions below to make it easier to understand the term mobbing from all perspectives.

Hostile and un-ethical communication which is directed in a systematic manner by one or more individuals, mainly toward one individual, who, due to mobbing, is pushed into a helpless and defenseless situation and held there by continuing mobbing activities.

The concept of mobbing was introduced in Germany by Heinz Leymann at the beginning of the 1990s, about 10 years after its introduction in Scandinavia. Theoretically mobbing is an extreme form of social stressors at work. It is amazing both from the scientist’s and the practitioner’s point of view that there was so little prior research in this area.

A social interaction, through which one s attacked by one or more (seldom more than 4) individuals on almost a daily basis and for periods of many months, forcing the person into an almost helpless position with a high potential risk of expulsion.

Mobbing is long lasting, recurrent, and serious negative actions and behavior that is annoying and oppressing. It is not mobbing if you are scolded once or somebody shrugs his/her shoulders at you once. Negative behaviors develop into mobbing when it becomes continuous and repeated. Often the victim of mobbing feels unable to defend him/herself.

The direction of hostile communication and behaviors toward one individual.

The phenomena of repeated workplace aggression by individuals to harm other with whom they work.

Psychological terror at workplace

Ganging up on someone in the work place

The situations where an employee is persistently picked on or humiliated by leaders or coworkers. Originally refers to group aggression.

Mobbing or mobbing is one form of extreme negative social interaction at work.

All these definitions vary in their content but refer to the same fact; a fact that one faces attacks and blames that he/she cannot defend against. This is the important point of mobbing. One feels that he or she cannot defend against those mobbing acts. The subjected person is put in a defenseless position and after some time is pushed to or left with no other choice to leave the position or even the organization. The facts causing this situation and the effects or outcomes of this situation will be covered in the next section of the paper.

Mobbing can be seen as a syndrome, getting its triggering factors from the work environment. The detailed explanation is given below, from Leymann(1996), explaining the syndrome in 5 stages:


Begins with a conflict

Aggressive or passive aggressive acts and psychological assaults follow.

Management gets involved to the detriment of the target (mostly a desire to get rid of the problem, more significantly the mobbed person)

Misdiagnosis: the target is branded as difficult or mentally ill

Expulsion occurs, the target is forced to leave his/her position or the organization

Mobbing also has its subdivisions. Mobbing can be observed in three different ways. The distinction between the three forms is their direction of flow. Below is the brief explanation of each subdivision:

Mobbing shows itself in 3 ways. (from Herr Zucker’s study)

by employees against a colleague - horizontal

by employees against a subordinate - downward

by employees against a superior – upward mobbing


Mobbing, as a situation in a workplace, does not appear or take place suddenly. It has some reasons to occur and these causes are important to find. Finding these causes will both prevent mobbing in organizations and help the organizations facing mobbing activities to overcome mobbing and find effective methods to overcome it.

The prejudice wide spread says that the mobbing problem occurs once an employee with character difficulties enter into workforce. The researches haven’t validated this hypothesis. But, there is still one question in our minds about that worker with personality difficulties. Is it the mobber employee or the mobbed employee that has character difficulties can not be answered through validation of scientific data.

However, we have two factors deeply related with mobbing. These two factors are not proved to be the causes of mobbing yet, due to the lack of researches on mobbing, but are the suspects to be so. Both conflict and stress is observed in workplaces in which mobbing take place. We will discuss and show their relevancy with mobbing in the subtitles below.


The German stress oriented researches show a relationship between mobbing and stress. But, the use of these stress researches cause confusion when comparing the results from stress related researches such as mobbing. Therefore, discussions arise about the role between mobbing and stress. The terminology leaves it unclear whether stress is the source of mobbing, or mobbing is the source of stress. Thus, a logical explanation can not be present; very poor psychological conditions at workplaces may cause biological stress reactions, which can also be observed by the adrenaline produced by the body. Frustrated people blame each other, and become each other’s stressors. This situation triggers a “mobbing” activity toward 1 person.


The fact that the “conflict solving” researches haven’t focused on the health outcomes, leaves us an open ended answer for the relationship between mobbing and conflict. Nevertheless, it is observed that the mobbing activities occur after a conflict. This may occur very quickly after a conflict, or maybe weeks or months after a conflict. We can also call mobbing as an exaggerated conflict.

Conflicts are sure to arise in an organization but the key point is to know why that conflict occurred and to take action before that conflict goes far beyond and causes a larger conflict within the whole organization. The enlargement of these conflicts can be seen as a factor that triggers or leaves an open door to mobbing activities.

Therefore another term comes in the frontline; conflict management. It is the essential key to deal with mobbing and of course to prevent it. Poor conflict management is an aspect why an organization can not deal with mobbing and overcome it. Below is the explanation of poor conflict management and detailed explanation.


The poor managerial actions may be one of the two possible actions listed below:

getting involved in the group dynamics on an equal basis (stirs up the situation and makes it worse, heating it up more)

Neglecting that there is a conflict, denying the existence of a conflict. (which gives time to deepen and escalate the conflict situation)

Both the two are dangerous, and when combined with poor work organization become a threat to be triggering mobbing activities at workplace as well as giving mobbing the opportunity to develop itself.

In addition to these, there are other two factors that show a relevancy with mobbing activities, and must be taken into consideration. These factors are the personality of the victim and the work organization of the workplace.


Researches haven’t yet revealed any importance of personality traits. But we will take into consideration the “personality” in terms of what has to be done and what are each person’s obligations.

We must not forget that the workplace is always regulated by behavioral rules. One of these are; effective cooperation, controlled by the supervisors. Conflicts are sure to arise, but the vital part is not its occurrence. The vital part is that conflicts have to be settled. The supervisor’s obligation is to ensure the settlement. If not, the escalation of the conflict is inevitable. And we know that the escalation of the conflict will result in a tendency toward mobbing at workplace. Mobbing is often a sign that a conflict around the organization of work tasks has taken on a private touch. When a conflict is “privatized”, or in other words, there occurs a dislike between two individuals behind the development of the conflict, then that is a conflict the employer or the manager has to stop. Once at that level, it is useless to blame one’s personality. So, to conclude we can say that; if a conflict has reached to become “mobbing”, the responsible of that and the one to blame there is the management primarily.

Another reason to distinguish personality traits from mobbing is that when a post-traumatic stress syndrome develops, the victim or the mobbed person is sure to develop major personality changes as a symptom of a major mental disorder due to the mobbing process.


In all the researches and cases, extremely poor production and working methods were found. The findings from a research held in a Hospital will tell us the hidden truth and the cause of mobbing.

In a hospital where research was held, the nurses were interviewed. Quite a few nurses knew who their boss or chief was. (in hospitals there are 2 hierarchies, 1 led

by doctors who are responsible for diagnosing and determining the treatments, and 1 led

and carried out by the nurses, who are responsible for carrying out the treatments of the patients) The present hierarchies supply bases, or in other words, the unclearness of the boss for the nurses, are caused by extensive workloads or poor working organization.

In such situations, the un-official institution of spontaneous leadership (which is dangerous for an organization due to its high risk) takes place in order to accomplish the jobs waiting. This means that, time to time, one nurse can take over the command within a group of nurses, without having the authority to do so in order to accomplish the jobs. No clear cut rules or the knowledge of whether the other fellow nurses will do what they are said to do states us the high-risk of the fact. Accordingly; in workplaces as stated above conflicts are sure to occur very frequently.

It is obviously clear that there is no clear-cut prescription for the causes of mobbing. No significant rule, proved hypothesis or generally accepted terms exist yet due to the ongoing and unfinished researches. Thus, all the present researches show a tendency to prove all of the above listed causes and there is one thing for sure that if an organization will pay attention to the subjects and topics listed above, that organization will have gone a long way in preventing and understanding the fact “mobbing”.

Along with the causes, another point to take into consideration is the outcomes of these causes; the effects of mobbing. These effects have impact on the victim, on the organization and on the society as well. Before going into deeper information on these effects there is one sharp effect of mobbing on the victim to remind; if it lasts for years, mobbing can ultimately result with expulsion from the labor market; because the person will not be able to find employment due to the psychological damage incurred.

Below are the effects of mobbing on the victim, the organization and the society.


After a person being mobbed in workplace, it is widely observed that the person is expelled from the working life long before retirement by means of the social effects of mobbing. Mobbing is highly destructive for the victim. Mobbing has a negative effect on the victim’s professional work life. Not only does negatively effects but also worsens the position of the victim.

Another fact that must be considered is that as the age gets older the opportunity to find another job diminishes and the victim gets tied to the workplace involuntarily where he is being mobbed. This fact is evidenced by the research held by Leymann in 1995; victims who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are rarely younger than 40 ages. People older than 40 ages cannot swap his work place and gets under pressure by staying in the place where he/she is being mobbed.

If mobbing lasts for years, mobbing can ultimately result with expulsion from the labor market; because the person will not be able to find employment due to the psychological damage incurred.

There is also a list of effects on the victim shoving in detail in what aspects the victim suffer negative effects. They are:

EFFECTS OF MOBBING ON VICTIM’S POSSIBILITIES TO COMMUNICATE ADEQUATELY: Management gives no responsibility to communicate, the victim is silenced, verbal attack against the victim regarding to work tasks, verbal activities aiming to reject the victim.

EFFECTS OF MOBBING ON THE VЭCTIM’S POSSIBILITIES TO MAINTAIN SOCIAL CONTACTS: Colleagues do not talk with the victim any longer, or the victim is forbidden to do so by management, the victim is isolated in a room away from others.

EFFECTS OF MOBBING ON VICTIM’S POSSIBILITIES TO MAINTAIN THEIR PERSONAL REPUTATION: Gossiping about the victim, others ridicule the victim, others make fun about the victim’s handicap, the victim’s ethnical heritage, or the way the victim talks.

EFFECTS OF MOBBING ON VICTIM’S OCCUPATIONAL SITIOATION: The victim is not given any work tasks again, the victim is given meaningless work tasks.

EFFECT’S ON VICTIM’S PHYSICAL HEALTH: The victim is given dangerous work tasks, others threaten the victim physically, and the victim may be sexually harassed in an active way.


It is obviously seen from a research in a company that the sick-leaves from that company have increased in the long-term. The research also shows and demonstrates that mobbing activities cause many different costs for the company. The researcher also evaluated that an expensive professional vocational rehabilitation to the victims were less costly to the company. To sum up we can say that mobbing causes high costs due to higher production costs, higher personnel turnover, lack of personnel motivation and so on.

The reflection of the negative effects of mobbing for the victim can be observed in the organization as well. It must not be forgotten that what makes an organization work or turn around is the employees working in it. Every single issue bothering the employees will eventually have a remarkable negative effect on the organization itself.


In a Swedish research, it is obviously seen that as much as 25% of the workforce over the age of 55 retired early from their works. Victims of mobbing, as mentioned before, is put in a defenseless position and forced to leave the organization. And after that age, it becomes nearly impossible for that employee to find another job. The only option left for that employee is to carry on working in the organization where he or she is mobbed, or to retire early and put an end to his or her suffer from the mobbing actions.

This shows us how effective mobbing is on both the employees and the workforce of that country. Consequently, a negative effect on that country’s economy is observed. Especially in European countries, the average population age is high; therefore the economies of those countries will be affected directly by the early retirement of the workforce members.


Leymann states out in his research covering Sweden in year 1987 that 10% to 20% of mobbing victims contract serious illnesses or even commit suicide. Every 6th to 15th of suicide incident in Sweden is caused by such workplace problems. These data shows us that 40% of the whole suicide events in Sweden, mobbing is the key factor pushing the victim to suicide (in Sweden there happen 1800 suicide events every year).

To overcome such effects, an organization can use the below prevention methods of mobbing:

The prevention of Mobbing:

a) Changes in Work Design: All measures that increase the control of the workers on the design of their work are suitable as prevention measures for the mobbing process.

b) Changes in Leadership Behavior: For the prevention of mobbing, it probably would be sufficient if the concepts taught in modern management are actually realized in leadership behavior.

These seem to be very simple methods but they are extremely effective methods. By using these methods an organization can save both itself and the employees’ psychological wellbeing.


Particularly role conflict, but also leadership, work control and social climate is correlated with mobbing. The risk factors of mobbing at work can be found in the psychological work environment and organizational climate. Consequently the possibility of experiencing mobbing in any organization is fairly high. Due to this high possibility rate, it is important to pay attention to the mobbing issue to both prevent and over come it.

It is important that not only the victims but also the observers of mobbing experienced a deficiency in work environment. The victims of mobbing may after long lasting negative treatment tend to describe their work environment very negatively in every respect. Mobbing may have worsened their work tasks and work environment as a whole, so the reports of the observers are of great importance. Mobbing should be negatively correlated with variables such as job complexity, job control and variability and social support by colleagues and supervisors.

To prevent the worsening of the work environment and relevantly the organization itself, mobbing must be taken into account. To get the best out of an organization, there is a list of things to do and to control. Mobbing is surely one of them due to its importance occurred from the negative effects on the organization, the employees and the society as well. This is why mobbing is important for organizations, especially in today’s highly competitive and global markets.


Mobbing is a commonly observed fact in today’s work life. Even in schools it is possible to observe such happenings. In this section we will give examples of mobbing from daily life. By this way we will make it easier to understand the concept of mobbing.

Mobbing can cause severe illnesses; occupational and earning disability, social exclusion and even suicide. It frequently generates chronic syndromes of combined psycho – physical disorders, restricting and impairing the afflicted persons.

Below are some footnotes about mobbing; useful information when mentioning about real life examples:

The case studies described in the literature suggest that individuals in a weak power position are more likely to become mobbing victims.

A Norwegian study among teachers also demonstrated weak correlations between absenteeism from work and mobbing. In an Australian study, those employees who were confronted with mobbing reported significantly more short term and long term absenteeism.

Women are more often mobbing victims than men. This could be a selection effect because women are more open to answering health-related questions than men.

The economic depression and changes at work during the past few years in Finland has led to a situation in which the number of personnel has decreased and the stress of the employees increased. The difficult situation at workplaces and the uncertainty due to anticipated changes can also promote mobbing at work.

At the mobbing work places, the general atmosphere was most often experienced as strained and competitive with everybody pursuing their own interest.

At the mobbing work places differences of opinion were most often settled by taking advantage of one’s position or authority, or by order.

We will now demonstrate a case study in which a German employee, a well educated person, 56 years old employee. A father of a 19 year old daughter married and divorced. We will tell in detail his background, his work life experiences and every issue bothering him in his work life. Finally we will demonstrate the illnesses he suffered due to mobbing. We will mention him as Mr. R. in the below case study.

Before we start it ill be useful to remind that; from a clinical point of view it must be kept in mind that mobbing and the consequent damages to health represents a psychodynamic process. The examiner only selects the momentary, subjective setting. Care must therefore be taken not only in judgments reached but also in the proposal of invention derived.

He spent a major part of his school life in an extern college, finishing in 1961 with the high school/college diploma: Only disturbed sleep during the final examinations. Some accident – related and other physical complaints are not relevant to this mobbing discussion. Mr R. declared that he was never seriously ill except from his present workplace environment.

Later in his private life, he was divorced; otherwise there were no problems. He now is living with his new female partner who is 12 years younger than himself.

The workplace and mobbing anamnesis of Mr. R. Showed, from the college-diploma on, a splendid career as a local government official, with employment at several county administrations and as the director of a community administration since 1974. The first 10 years of his career, under the then elected mayor, were very good, with just the interpersonal conflicts that occur in any organization.

However from 1984 which was the beginning of the governmental period of the then newly elected and still ruling mayor, his work situation became immediately and increasingly, stressful. The normal conflicts of the former work situation turned into psychological violence to him.

This led to a prevalence of illness. He was also obliged to see the medical officer to have a judgment made on his working capability. Moreover the mayor was intending a disciplinary tribunal against him, aimed at expelling him from his status of an official.

Health Status

Mr. R. Had been injured frequently in the past and had become very vulnerable. Therefore he tended to interpret harmless interventions as afflictions. Generally he appeared easily unsure of himself, unveiling desperate , anxious but also unprotected aspects of his personality.

As a result he reacted impulsively was maladapted and inflexible, socially retreating too soon and an enhanced suspicious behavior. He was internally restless with a generally lowered reagibility. He described his workplace problems very extensively, constantly appearing rather agitated.

His thinking was continuously circling around the sufferings in his workplace, the memories repeatedly urging themselves into his mind, thus getting the character of intrusions.

Applying the instrument for stress-oriented job analysis and the social stressors scale we found that, despite a low sick leave rate, stress levels were generally high with strong fluctuations, primarily caused by work organization, work environment and social conditions, less by general organizational conditions; the tasks appeared stress-free.


The explanations of Mr. R. can, of course, not be considered as facts but as the diagnostically and therapeutically traceable interpretations and descriptions of the patient. The basic conflict may have originated in the different opinions of the elected mayor.

The consequence of this conflict was the demonstration of omnipotence by the mayor and the over – reactive behavior of Mr. R.


Regarding the workplace environment, he seemed to have had conditions, below average. A generally high stress level was prevailing, primarily caused by the work organization, work environment and social conditions. But the differential diagnostic question about his before mobbing personalities can certainly not be answered to the last extent.

Was it that the newly elected mayor’s fault for Mr. R. to feel this much of stress, or was it Mr. R.’s personal fault that he felt so much pressure on him? Was it that Mr. R. didn’t have the enough qualifications and experience to carry out the administrative officer job?

The answer is no for all of the questions above. The problem was with neither with the new elected mayor nor with Mr. R. The problem, or in other words, the facts that lead Mr. R. to get mobbed was with the organization. We can list the problems of the organization as follows:

The work place environment: they seemed to have had rather bad conditions, below average.

A generally high stress level was prevailing, primarily caused by the work organization, work environment and social conditions of the workplace.

From this case study we can understand that there is a correlation between stress to mobbing. It must not be forgotten that also stress has a positive correlation with conflict. So, from this case study we understand that stress and conflict, whether they are the triggering fact of mobbing or the outcomes of mobbing, have a very negative effect on the victim’s both work life and private life. We can presume Mr. R. as an average employee, with his qualifications and suitability for the job analysis. Without the negative effects of mobbing he would have done much better in his job as well as in his private life. To sum up, this case study proves all of the properties, effects, causes and importance mentioned earlier in the text.


The new concept in managerial sciences, mobbing, has gained its importance in Europe relatively fast than other new concepts. This fast strike of mobbing is caused by its earlier existence. Mobbing term was not discovered, it was realized. Mobbing has been an ongoing fact in organizations, both public and private as well as academic workplaces and schools, and has just been realized.

In today’s workplaces, employers pay attention to many aspects of the organization. The stock state, production parameters, employee satisfaction, employee efficiency, production efficiency, saving of time and material and so on are all computed and given attention to. This is done because there is an extremely competitive, globalised market structure. To compete and keep on running, an organization must pay attention to these.

Mobbing is for sure one of the new members of that “things to pay attention” list of the organizations. This is caused by the importance of mobbing on an organization. This concept must be fully understood by the management of organizations, mobbing cannot be overcame only by the employees’ efforts. Management must be fully understood by the management so that management can imply the precautions and carry out mobbing management as well.

To conclude, mobbing is a hidden enemy in an organization. Management can not easily be aware of mobbing activities in that organization. Managements of firms and organizations must pay attention to mobbing in order to supply their employees with a peaceful and comfortable work environment. Or else, the case study above will prevail itself in any organization. We hope that the negative effects of mobbing will be prevented by all organizations resent in the market economy.

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