When is a bystander not a bystander? A typology of the roles of bystanders in workplace bullying


Correspondence: Dr Megan Paull, Senior Lecturer, Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, South Street, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia; e-mail: m.paull@murdoch.edu.au


The role of the bystander is one which has received only a small portion of the research attention that has been paid to workplace bullying. This paper will argue that bystanders are not just incidental but are an integral part of the context of bullying. Drawing on qualitative data from two separate studies, a typology is presented which outlines thirteen potential roles bystanders can take. This typology can be employed as an awareness-raising tool to encourage individuals to examine their own behaviour in a range of situations, and to acknowledge that their actions, either deliberate or inadvertent, can contribute to outcomes of events which may be classified as bullying. It also provides a foundation for further research into bystanders in workplace bullying.