Thursday, July 31, 2008

International Workplace Bullying Conference

The Sixth International Workplace Bullying Conference came to North America for the first time when convened in Montreal, June 2008. During the Conference, the Founding Board formed a new organization, The International Association on Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace.

Founding Board members stem from
• The National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Denmark
• University of Quebec, Montreal
• Centre for Research on Workplace Behaviour, Wales
• University of Bergen, Norway
• Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki
• Portsmouth Business School, UK

The origins of the Board members testifies to the fact that Workplace Bullying is and has been taken very seriously in European countries, more so than in the United States. Yet, the problem is rampant here as well.

Cultural characteristics account for some of the difference in outlook and approach to workplace bullying. For example, overall, United States culture is more individualistic than that of any of the countries mentioned above. That people should take care of their own problems is common thinking. Also, Canada, Finland, Denmark, and Norway have been characterized by research as Feminine cultures, that is, more concerned about people and relationships than are Masculine cultures, such as the U.S., which focus on achievement above relationships.

However, the United States was represented at the Conference by Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, Ph.D., University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, who was voted to the Inaugural Board of Directors of the new International Association. Dr. Lutgen-Sandvik has conducted in-depth research on workplace bullying.

The anti-bullying movement is gaining strength in the U.S. Thirteen states have introduced anti-bullying bills, some repeatedly. None have passed—yet. As was the case with legislation against sexual harassment, it’s only a matter of time.

Meanwhile, helping targets of bullies to take self-defensive action is key to their survival.

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