Higher Education Henchmen: Vicarious bullying and underrepresented populations


  • Leah P. Hollis Morgan State University




workplace bullying, vicarious bullying, higher education


This study is an original examination of the overlooked phenomenon of vicarious bullying in higher education.  While researchers have brought attention to direct bullying, vicarious bullying—which results when a third party acts as the aggressor or henchman—can also create destructive environments that lead to employee disengagement and turnover. The findings reported in this analysis were obtained through a meta-analysis of 317 American institutions of higher education, thus including both four-year and two-year colleges. The purpose of this analysis was to consider the frequency of vicarious bullying as reported by the study participants. The participants invited to engage the instrument were from 317 colleges and universities.  Of these study respondents 35% of them (n = 197) reported being the target of vicarious bullying.  Participants from underrepresented backgrounds involving race, gender, and sexual orientation also reported vicarious bullying with higher frequency than the 35% frequency reported from the general sample.

Author Biography

Leah P. Hollis, Morgan State University

Dr. Leah P. Hollis is an assistant professor at Morgan State University. She has done extensive research on workplace bullying in American higher education. She may be reached at leah.hollis@morgan.edu


Bernard, A. (2017). Beyond the wheelchair. Workplace bullying and persons with disabilities. Global Journal of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, 5 (3). 41-47

Bernays, E. L. (2001). Viewpoint: The Case for Licensing PR Practitioners. Public Relations Quarterly, 28 (1), p.32.

Bond, S. A., Tuckey, M. R., & Dollard, M. F. (2010). Psychosocial safety climate, workplace bullying, and symptoms of posttraumatic stress. Organization Development Journal, 28 (1), pp. 37-56.

Branch, S., Ramsay, S. & Barker, M. (2013). Workplace Bullying, Mobbing and General Harassment: A Review. International Journal of Management Reviews. pp. 280–299. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2370.2012.00339.

Byrne, Z.S., (2014). Understanding employee engagement: Theory, research, and practice. New York, NY. Routledge.

Cowan, R. (2012). It’s Complicated: Defining workplace bullying from the human resource professional’s perspective. Management Communication Quarterly. 3. pp. 377-403. Doi: 10.1177/0893318912439474.

Dictionary, O. (2014). Oxford dictionaries. Language Matters.

Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., Zapf, D., & Cooper, C. (2011). Bullying and harassment in the workplace. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Einarsen, S., Skogstad, A., Rørvik, E., Lande, Å. B., & Nielsen, M. B. (2016). Climate for conflict management, exposure to workplace bullying and work engagement: a moderated mediation analysis. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 1-22.

Erkutlu, H., & Chafra, J. (2014). Ethical leadership and workplace bullying in higher education. Hacettepe University Journal of Education, 29, 55-67.

Fritz, J. (2014). Organizational misbehavior bullying in the workplace: causes symptoms, and remedies. Ed. John Lipinski & Laura Crothers. New York, NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis.

Getty, J. A. (2013). Practicing Stalinism: Bolsheviks, boyars, and the persistence of tradition. Yale University Press.

Goldblatt, V. (2007). Bye-bye bullies: How to get people to want to work. New Zealand Management, 54(4), 39-41.

Hollis, L. P., & McCalla, S. A. (2013). Bullied back in the closet. Journal of Psychological Issues in Organizational Culture, 4(2), 6-16.

Hollis, L. P. (2016). Bruising the Bottom Line: Cost of Workplace Bullying and the Compromised Access for Underrepresented Community College Employees. In Hollis, L.P. (Ed.) In The Coercive Community College: Bullying and its Costly Impact on the Mission to Serve Underrepresented Populations. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. United Kingdom. pp. 1-26

Hollis, L.P. (2016a). Canary in the mine: ombuds as first alerts for workplace bullying on campus. Journal of International Ombudsman Association. 9. (1). pp. 23- 31.

Hollis, L. P. (2016b). Cybershaming–Technology, Cyberbullying, and the Application to People of Color. In Hollis, L.P. (Ed.) In The Coercive Community College: Bullying and its Costly Impact on the Mission to Serve Underrepresented Populations. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. United Kingdom. pp. 125-135.

Hollis, L. P. (2016c). Socially Dominated: The Racialized and Gendered Positionality of Those Precluded from Bullying. In The Coercive Community College: Bullying and its Costly Impact on the Mission to Serve Underrepresented Populations (pp. 103-112). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Hughes, J. J. (2012). Nazis on the run: How hitler's henchmen fled justice. The Catholic Historical Review, 98 (1), pp. 150-151.

Keashly, L., & Neuman, J. H. (2010). Faculty experiences with bullying in higher education: Causes, consequences, and management. Administrative Theory & Praxis, 32 (1), pp. 48-70.

Jolliffe, D. & Farrington, D.P., (2006). Examining the relationship between low empathy and bullying. Aggressive behavior. 32 (6). pp.540-550.

Rodríguez-Muñoz, A., Notelaers, G., & Moreno-Jiménez, B. (2011). Workplace bullying and sleep quality: The mediating role of worry and need for recovery. Behavioral Psychology/ Psicologia Conductual, 19 (2), pp. 453-468.

Ryan, M. (2016). Besting the workplace bully. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 55 (4), pp. 267-269.

Simpson, R., & Cohen, C. (2004). Dangerous work: The gendered nature of bullying in the context of higher education. Gender, Work & Organization. 11 ( 2), pp. 163-186.

Steinacher, G. (2012). Nazis on the Run: How Hitler's Henchmen Fled Justice. Oxford University Press.

Strathern, A. (1993). Violence and political change in papua new guinea. Bijdragen Tot De Taal-, Land- En Volkenkunde, 149 (4), p. 718.

Thomas, M. (2005). Bullying among support staff in a higher education institution. “Health Education, 105, pp. 273-288.

Zabrodska, K., & Kveton, P. (2013). Prevalence and forms of workplace bullying among university employees. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal. pp. 89-108. 10.1007/s10672-012-9210-x




How to Cite

Hollis, L. P. (2017). Higher Education Henchmen: Vicarious bullying and underrepresented populations. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 4(12). https://doi.org/10.14738/assrj.412.3364