Publication Details

Thirlwall, A. 2014, 'My Little Desert Island: Using metaphors to identify the emotional impact of workplace bullying', 28th ANZAM Conference: Reshaping Management for Impact, ANZAM, Australia, pp. 1-23.

Link to publisher version (URL)

ANZAM Conference


Bullying is now recognized as a disruptive and persistent feature of work but despite the difficulties it causes within organisations, managers appear to be unwilling or unable to manage workplace bullying. One reason for this phenomenon's persistence may be its invisibility for those who have not experienced it; therefore, this paper provides step-by-step details of an alternative approach for recognizing and understanding the impact of workplace bullying on employees. Using empirical data from targets of bullying, naturally occurring metaphors are systematically analysed and linked with emotions. It was found that metaphors associated with shame, sadness, and pain emerged strongly from the data and recognition of such emotions is likely to contribute to the visibility of bullying. Finally, this paper provides a novel methodology for gaining insight into a problem that has evaded any lasting solutions.