Competitive workplaces are full of backstabbing co-workers looking to succeed at a colleague's expense, though few report such incidents to management, The Creative Group reported this week.

While half of some 250 advertising and marketing executives surveyed by the California-based staffing firm said they were victims of backstabbing colleagues in the past, only 10 percent said the best response was to contact management. Just five percent said they would alert other employees.

"In advertising or marketing -- as with any competitive field -- it's not uncommon for people to promote themselves at the expense of others," Megan Slabinski, executive director of The Creative Group, said in a statement. Yet, she warned that in a cutthroat industry, a heavy-handed response can carry its own implications.

"Saying the wrong thing can make a bad situation worse," she said.

Despite that risk, up to 70 percent of the executives surveyed identified personal confrontation as the best course of action.