The prevalence of workplace incivility in academic settings is on the rise. Understanding how university leaders navigate the accompanying subtle but damaging behaviours is critically important because perpetrators in this context are often ‘smart bullies’ who understand violence and harassment policy and can evade reprimand. This study explores workplace incivility experienced by business school leaders as victims and managers of these behaviours, based on three primary research questions:
- What acts of incivility are academic leaders experiencing?
- What impact does incivility have on the leaders who receive it?
- What strategies do academic leaders employ to manage incivility in their schools?
The study, conducted in the winter of 2023, utilized a qualitative research approach that integrated constructivist philosophy with inductive research methods. The study participants included deans, associate deans, and department chairs from selected Canadian institutions. A thematic analysis was used to analyze the data collected from the semi-structured interviews.
The results showed that incivility is ubiquitous, largely unaddressed, and significantly impacts leaders, faculty members, and their schools. The report presents two recommendations highlighting the critical need to support academic leadership development and civility education and awareness.
This study prepared by Leda Stawnychko (Bissett School of Business, Mount Royal University), was supported by BSAC and funded through its grant competition program.