Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Member

Pamela A. Havice, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Michelle Boettcher

Committee Member

Tony W. Cawthon

Committee Member

Leah P. Hollis


Workplace bullying situated specifically in higher education has been an under-researched topic. Researchers have focused investigations in the academy toward the prevalence and nature of bullying. Consequently, institutional responses have largely centered on policy implementation in an attempt to discourage and eliminate the occurrence of the unwanted behavior. While prior research has identified organizational antecedents associated with workplace bullying, fewer studies have focused upon how certain organizational antecedents, such as organizational culture, facilitate incidents of bullying.

The purpose of this study was to explore an institution's organizational culture to determine how culture functioned as a macrosystem antecedent to university workplace bullying. Via a social ecological lens, the researcher examined the university's culture using Schein's (2010) approach to cultural analysis. Observational data and individual interviews with faculty and staff at the research site enabled the identification and investigation of relevant artifacts, which uncovered the values and espoused beliefs attached to them by members of the university. The investigation yielded five basic underlying assumptions embedded in the university's culture. The five assumptions were (a) perception not reality was what mattered, (b) employee value equaled title and position, (c) the organizational structure guided and maintained daily order, (d) rules must be followed, especially the unwritten rules, and (e) unquestionable loyalty expected and required. The researcher connected these data to existing research to illustrate how organizational culture functioned as a macrosystem antecedent to workplace bullying in a higher education setting. Results revealed the university's culture functioned in 10 ways that could facilitate bullying in an institution of higher education. From the results, the researcher provided implications for practice as well as suggestions for future research.



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