Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Gender and Workplace Bullying in Lao Organisations

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Version 2 2023-09-26, 23:58
Version 1 2021-12-07, 11:56
posted on 2023-09-26, 23:58 authored by Sayaseng, Vanhsana

Workplace bullying has gained more attention in many Western countries and in some Asian countries than in Laos. It is a serious workplace health and safety issue for both individuals and organisations. In order to understand workplace bullying experienced by individuals, it is important to put bullying in a gendered context. This will help people better understand the perceptions and coping tactics of individuals who have experienced workplace bullying. Where existing studies consider gender, they mainly focus on statistical differences in patterns of bullying experienced between women and men and only a few discuss the gendered processes of workplace bullying. This is an exploratory study addressing gender and workplace bullying in a distinctive non-Western context, taking specific cultural factors into account. This thesis studies the perceptions of ten Laotian women, including myself, of bullying in their current and previous workplaces. These include NGOs, private and public organisations. In this national context, the concept of workplace bullying is not well recognised and understood, and gendered and workplace bullying has not been studied at all. The topic is seen as an extremely sensitive one. Snowball sampling techniques were used to recruit participants. Selected key concepts of workplace bullying from Western-based studies were adapted in order to identify and explore bullying in the Laotian context. In addition, a qualitative epistemology, in which social constructionism and interpretivism were employed, was used to understand and interpret the forms of workplace bullying as experienced by the Laotian women in the study. Semi-structured interviews were developed to help identify experiences of bullying in relation to gender and culture. The analysis of gender and workplace bullying is based on gendered organisation theory and social dominance theory.  The findings indicate a number of risk factors that I have identified associated with workplace bullying in Laos. These include gender and culture factors such as marital status, power distance, ethnocentrism, Westerner privilege and religion. These risk factors give more context to the Negative Acts Questionnaire-Revised (NAQ-R) framework when understanding and interpreting the nature of workplace bullying. Importantly, gender and culture have a strong relationship and cannot be separated from each other when understanding workplace bullying. Various forms of workplace bullying appear to be different from that found in many Western studies and are based on the risk factors. Remedies are also different because of the lack of support systems available, and the fact that participants often have to cope with the bullying by themselves.  I hope that my findings can inform the Lao government to pay more attention in developing policies to address and prevent the phenomenon of workplace bullying in Lao organisations, and also can educate women’s organisations about the nature of this problem so that they can find effective ways to better address and prevent the problems associate with workplace bullying.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Commerce

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



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Victoria University of Wellington School

Victoria Management School


Jones, Deborah