Workplace Bullying Prevention: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Publication Date


Document Type



Aim: The aim of this study was to analyse the discourses of workplace bullying prevention of hospital nursing unit managers and in the official documents of the organizations where they worked. Background: Workplace bullying can be a self-perpetuating problem in nursing units. As such, efforts to prevent this behaviour may be more effective than efforts to stop ongoing bullying. There is limited research on how healthcare organizations characterize their efforts to prevent workplace bullying. Design: This was a qualitative study. Method: Critical discourse analysis and Foucault's writings on governmentality and discipline were used to analyse data from interviews with hospital nursing unit managers (n = 15) and organizational documents (n = 22). Data were collected in 2012. Findings: The discourse of workplace bullying prevention centred around three themes: prevention of workplace bullying through managerial presence, normalizing behaviours and controlling behaviours. All three are individual level discourses of workplace bullying prevention. Conclusion: Current research indicates that workplace bullying is a complex issue with antecedents at the individual, departmental and organizational level. However, the discourse of the participants in this study only focused on prevention of bullying by moulding the behaviours of individuals. The effective prevention of workplace bullying will require departmental and organizational initiatives. Leaders in all types of organizations can use the results of this study to examine their organizations' discourses of workplace bullying prevention to determine where change is needed.

Publication Title

Journal of Advanced Nursing





First Page


Last Page




Publisher Policy

pre-print, post-print (with 12 month embargo)

This document is currently not available here.

Find in your library