Organization Development

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Organization Development (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Alla Heorhiad; John Conbere; Susan Huber


Workplace bullying is a type of harassing behavior that can have negative, even devastating, consequences for both employees and the organization, but because the abuse is status blind (not related to legally protected classes of race, gender, religion, national origin, physical or mental disability, age or sexual orientation), antiharassment and antidiscrimination laws do not adequately address this phenomenon. The unique status of faculty and the protections of academic freedom, tenure, and peer review present challenges for those dealing with cases of incivility and unprofessional behavior among and between faculty members.

This interpretive collective case study captured the experiences and responses of four private college senior academic leaders, Chief Academic Officers (CAOs), who had dealt with incidences of workplace bullying between faculty. Data analysis began with in-depth examination of each individual case, where participant interviews provided the primary sources and were triangulated with secondary-source interviews and review of available documents. The cross case analysis revealed three major themes: the influence of the environment and academic culture; the influence of the unique factors of faculty employment, especially the protections and entitlements of tenure; and strategies CAOs employed at the individual and systemic levels to address bullying.

The research is significant to the field of organization development in that it shines a spotlight on the challenges of addressing this incivility in the sheltered environment of academe. Insights gained through this study may be of value to academic leaders grappling with similar situations on their own campuses and may add to the body of workplace bullying literature regarding higher education.


workplace bullying, bullying, academic freedom

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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