Understanding the relationship between experiencing workplace cyberbullying, employee mental strain and job satisfaction: a dysempowerment approach

Although the literature on traditional workplace bullying is advancing rapidly, currently investigations addressing workplace cyberbullying are sparse. To counter this, we present three connected research studies framed within dysempowerment theory (Kane, K., & Montgomery, K. (1998). A framework for understanding dysempowerment in organizations. Human Resource Management, 37, 263–275.) which examine the relationship between volume and intensity of cyberbullying experience and individual mental strain and job satisfaction; whether the impact is more negative as compared to traditional bullying; and whether state negative affectivity (NA) and interpersonal justice mediate the relationship. Additionally, we also considered the impact of witnessing cyberbullying acts on individual outcomes. A total sample comprised 331 UK university employees across academic, administrative, research, management and technical roles. Overall, significant relationships between cyberbullying exposure and outcomes emerged, with cyberbullying exposure displaying a stronger negative relationship with job satisfaction when compared to offline bullying. Analysis supported an indirect effect between cyberbullying acts and outcomes via NA and between cyberbullying acts and job satisfaction via interpersonal justice. No support for a serial multiple mediation model of experiencing cyberbullying to justice to NA to outcome was found. Further, perceived intensity of cyberbullying acts and witnessing cyberbullying acts did not significantly relate to negative outcomes. Theoretical and practical implications of the research are discussed.