Daily work pressure and exposure to bullying-related negative acts: The role of daily transformational and laissez-faire leadership

Kari Wik Ågotnes, Anders Skogstad, Jørn Hetland, Olav Kjellevold Olsen, Roar Espevik, Arnold B. Bakker, Ståle Valvatne Einarsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The present study integrates the work environment hypothesis and the effort-reward imbalance model to argue that work-related antecedents of workplace bullying are moderated by the day-to-day leadership practices of one's immediate leader. Specifically, we propose that individuals’ daily experiences of work pressure are positively related to their daily experiences of bullying-related negative acts. Moreover, we claim that this relationship is weaker on days when those individuals report high (vs. low) levels of transformational leadership behaviour, and stronger on days when they report high (vs. low) levels of laissez-faire leadership behaviour. To test these three hypotheses, we asked 61 naval cadets on a tall ship sailing from Northern Europe to North America to fill out a diary questionnaire for 36 days yielding 1509 observations. The results of multilevel analyses supported our hypothesis of a positive relationship of cadets’ daily reports of work pressure with their daily reports of bullying-related negative acts. In addition, laissez-faire leadership behaviour (but not transformational leadership behaviour) moderated the work pressure–bullying-related negative acts relationship. Our findings support the assumption that laissez-faire leadership is an important component in the development of conflict escalation and workplace bullying, while transformational leadership is not. We discuss theoretical as well as practical implications of these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-433
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Management Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Bullying
  • Laissez-faire leadership
  • Negative acts
  • Transformational leadership
  • Work pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management


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