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How Individual Involvement with Digitalized Work and Digitalization at the Workplace Level Impacts Supervisory and Coworker Bullying in German Workplaces

1
Department of Political & Social Sciences, University Pompeu Fabra, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
2
Department of Sociology, University of Bielefeld, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Soc. Sci. 2020, 9(9), 156; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9090156
Received: 31 July 2020 / Revised: 5 September 2020 / Accepted: 7 September 2020 / Published: 10 September 2020
Digitalized work has gained importance across industrialized countries. Simultaneously, research investigating the consequences of digitalized work for workplace relations among employees, supervisors, and coworkers, such as workplace bullying, is largely missing. This study is, to the best of our knowledge, the first to investigate how digitalized work influences supervisory and coworker bullying dependent on individual, job, and workplace characteristics. We use representative linked-employer-employee data from 3612 employees located in 100 large workplaces in Germany across all industrial sectors and apply random effects multilevel linear analyses. Individual involvement in digitalized work is related to less supervisory bullying for all employees, and for lower qualified employees to less coworker bullying. At the workplace level, when digitalization has advanced, supervisory bullying increases for highly qualified employees. Neither the individual nor the workplace effects of digitalization are explained by mediating factors such as job autonomy, routine or machine work, competency, or psychological or physical stress. Competence and job autonomy prevent the occurrence of bullying, while routine work, psychological stress, and physically demanding work are positively related to bullying. All effects are more pronounced for supervisory bullying than for coworker bullying. Individual involvement with digitalized work seems to change relational dynamics within workplaces and to protect employees from bullying. For highly qualified employees, this is probably related to the gathering of key competencies; for lower qualified employees, it might be linked to working with digital devices. In workplaces where digitalization has progressed, digitalized work may disrupt and change the established work processes and relations and increase the necessity for new coordination and, thus, the occurrence of conflicts. View Full-Text
Keywords: workplace bullying; digitalization; job autonomy; routine work; linked employer-employee data; supervisors workplace bullying; digitalization; job autonomy; routine work; linked employer-employee data; supervisors
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Melzer, S.M.; Diewald, M. How Individual Involvement with Digitalized Work and Digitalization at the Workplace Level Impacts Supervisory and Coworker Bullying in German Workplaces. Soc. Sci. 2020, 9, 156.

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