Emotional Workplace Abuse (EWA) –project offers a new approach to the study of abusive workplace behaviors and practices. The aim of the project is to assist in identifying and recognizing both direct and indirect forms of workplace abuse and their effects on the target as well as the organization. Our goal is to assist in developing tools to respond to abuse at the workplace in ethically sustainable ways.

Our research approach to emotional abuse at work is based on the following premises:

  • Emotional workplace abuse should be identified through the framework of violence. Abusive behaviors and practices should not be accepted as part of particular employees or managers’ personality and/or leadership style. Nor should emotional workplace abuse be normalized as part of (competitive) organizational culture.
  • Emotional workplace abuse is traumatizing. It breaks the boundaries between professional and personal roles and impacts negatively the target’s self-image as valuable person and competent employee.
  • Emotional workplace abuse takes place in a continuum and it cannot be reduced to isolated acts. Abusive workplace relationships operate similarly as intimate partner violence. Abusive behavior often begins with indirect forms and may escalate over time to coercive control and ostracism of the target.

Prevention of emotional workplace abuse requires that organizations have the capacity to identify and recognize early signs of workplace abuse and take necessary steps to respond to workplace violence in ethically sustainable ways.