Workplace bullying as sensemaking: An analysis of target and actor perspectives on initial hostile interactions

Zabrodska, Katerina, Ellwood, Constance, Zaeemdar, Sara and Mudrak, Jiri (2016) Workplace bullying as sensemaking: An analysis of target and actor perspectives on initial hostile interactions. Culture and Organization, 22 (2). pp. 136-157. ISSN 1475-9551

Full text not available from this repository.
Official URL:


This study explores the micro-level processes sustaining hostile workplace behaviour at the level of interactions between targets and actors. Drawing on Weick’s [1995. Sensemaking in Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage] sensemaking theory, the study examined how targets and actors of workplace bullying made sense of each other’s behaviours during first occasions of hostility. An analysis of collective biography stories of hostility in academia showed that targets experienced destabilisation of identity, positioned actors as arbiters of adequacy, and engaged in self-undermining. Actors’ stories revealed not only moral condemnation of targets, failure to recognise the injury caused, but also precarious emotions, which could have subverted harmful behaviours. Based on these findings, the authors argue that understanding target and actor sensemaking is vital since it appears to contribute to power differentials between the parties from the very onset of hostility, thus allowing it to escalate. The implications for the development of a sensemaking approach to workplace bullying and organisational intervention are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: workplace bullying, workplace hostility, sensemaking, target, actor, collective biography, stories
Subjects: L300 Sociology
N200 Management studies
X300 Academic studies in Education
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Sara Zaeemdar
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 16:49
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 09:49

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics