Skating on Thin Ice at Enti: HRM or Employee Bullying?

Skating on Thin Ice at Enti: HRM or Employee Bullying?

Niveen Labib Eid, Devi Akella
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5820-1.ch008
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This case study highlights how various human resources management (HRM) policies and practices at ENTI, a Palestinian non-governmental organization (NGO), can be deconstructed as depersonalized forms of 'workplace bullying' which exert a totalitarian form of control and domination over employees. It further examines how external sociopolitical forces at the macro level can be held responsible for management's autocratic regimes, where employees are closely monitored and psychologically controlled. In pursuit of explaining the complex dynamics of employee relations, workplace bullying, and HRM, the case utilizes an interpretative inquiry based on critical theoretical lens of Foucault's disciplinary power frameworks. HRM in rhetoric is a management responsibility which is primarily concerned with employees, their welfare, growth, and development. However, this case reveals the complete opposite, in the form of startling, critical insights from an under researched sector, that of the (NGOs) which have been historically envisaged as altruistic organizations and ideal workplaces.
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Organization Background

Women trafficking, incest, gender bias, dehumanization, physical violence, emotional abuse, bullying, and domestic violence are social problems which have been historically practiced against females across the world. The more these practices become publicly visible, the faster they are likely to be tackled and eradicated. However, in some conservative and masculine -oriented societies such as the Palestinian society, such phenomena are usually perceived as taboos and thus suppressed. According to the UN Special Rapporteur’s report on violence against women in 2005 and 2011 this can be traced to two main reasons. First, is that Palestine has been under occupation for seventy years, and the Palestinians have been subjected to continuous abuse which has now become part of their mental psyche. Second, gender discrimination is an offshoot of the deeply rooted religious and cultural assumptions of the Palestinian patriarchal society. Therefore, the Palestinian women are forced to endure in silence rather than publicly speak against such cultural taboos.

In the past, people were less knowledgeable, courageous, and open minded to confront these issues to protect and preserve women’s dignity and wellbeing. However, over the last few decades, the Palestinian community, along with some NGOs, civil institutions and other influential human rights defenders have been working with the official designated bodies to confront this inhuman phenomenon. The sufferings and trauma suffered by the victimized Palestinian women motivated a young female social entrepreneur called Lima, to establish Enti, an NGO committed to breaking through the community's silence to raise voice against the violence practiced by a few domineering Palestinian males on their women.

Establishment of Enti

The aforementioned social issues were behind the establishment of Enti, which in Arabic language means “yourself” and more specifically it is the pronoun used when the subject is a female. Enti's slogan over the last thirty years has not changed: 'Seek protection for yourself and also for other females”. This slogan has encouraged Palestinian women to disclose information about abuse and violence suffered or witnessed by them. Enti was initially established in 1990 as a social initiative, by five female social activists, inspired by Lima’s ideology and passion of wanting to create better lives for the vulnerable victims of domestic violence. At that time, such an initiative was seen as a pioneering cornerstone for a continuous wave of community awakening and reform in respect to matters concerning gender equality and justice for the abused. Enti, entered into numerous partnerships with various support groups, and international human rights organizations, thereby gaining access to unlimited networks and resources. These kinds of partnerships opened new venues as they have extended to Enti a significant amount of legitimacy as an organization aiming to attend to a critical social need.

Initially Enti lacked the support of the local Palestinian community. Enti was not recognized nor registered as an NGO. This created numerous challenges, politically, socially, and economically for the organization. For instance, Enti was unable to raise funds through donations, or hire employees and was heavily dependent on volunteers. However, Lima’s determination to expand and register Enti as a local NGO, resulted in the organization finally getting registered as a Palestinian NGO in 1995. The NGO now operates under the duplicated bylaws of the two governing bodies of the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government, typical for Palestine, being a country under occupation. All Palestinian organizations that operate in the occupied geographic areas are subject to the occupier's authority and have to comply with the latter's legislations. Several issues emerged over Enti's lifetime due to this contradictory nature of the two governance systems. Despite these challenges, Enti became the first pioneering NGO to combat different forms of violence and abuse suffered by Palestinian females. Enti was able to garner the attention and interest of several international formal and legal bodies, including political governments in different countries. Enti received offers from international donors to expand its services to cover new geographic areas using a variety of creative programs and projects.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Disciplines: Consists of all methods used to train people to obey orders and punishing them when they disobey.

Human resource management: Is a management function which deals with all personnel-oriented responsibilities of a business such as hiring, training, development, compensation, and implementation of labor laws.

Autocratic Leadership: Is a leadership style where the leader imposes strict authoritative control over his/her followers, rarely seeking their input or feedback, and takes all decisions based on his/her own judgment and perception.

Michel Foucault: a French philosopher whose power ideologies, addressing the relationship between power and knowledge have been used to design contemporary surveillance mechanisms to discipline and control employees in organizations.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO): Are organizations established to resolve social issues and problems existing within the society. The profits or the surplus earned by these organizations are not distributed among the stakeholders. These organizations are committed to altruism, humanity and towards providing compassion and goodwill.

Panopticon: Was an eighteen-century model of a prison design, a twelve-sided polygon with a central tower in the middle from where it was possible for a guard to observe the prisoners continuously throughout the day and thereby impose control over their behavior. The panopticon model has been used to design contemporary surveillance control measures for organizations, hospitals, and schools.

Workplace Bullying: Means persistent and repeated hurtful behavior directed at others within a workplace which causes physical or emotional harm to the victims.

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