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The escalation of conflict: a case study of bullying at work
by Stig Berge Matthiesen, Elizabeth Aasen, Gisken Holst, Kenneth Wie, Stale Einarsen
International Journal of Management and Decision Making (IJMDM), Vol. 4, No. 1, 2003
Abstract: This paper presents a rare case in the literature of workplace bullying: a victim who took her case to court, won, and then continued in her job, surrounded by her former bullies. The theoretical conflict escalation model of Evert van de Vliert is used to identify significant events and behaviour in the conflict process, categorising them as either conflict-escalating or conflict de-escalating, as well as strategic or spontaneous. Social support is discussed as a possible explanation of the ''happy ending'' of this particular bullying episode. Methodological constraints are discussed, including the distinction between different levels of research. A version of the conflict that is valid in the eyes of the victim may not be regarded as such by the opponent, nor by the group or organisation involved. However, we cannot ignore the individual perspective in the attempt to understand workplace bullying.
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