•  
  •  
 
Perspectives

Publication Date

5-1-2010

Abstract

This review examines the role of humor in work place interactions through the social constructionist perspective (Hatch 1997). That is, this review explores the ways in which people construct their interactions through humor, and the effects that has on their performance in the work place. However, according to Robinson, “any attempt to analyze humor risks taking all the fun out of the subject,” but this review is going to do just that (2001:123). Humor is often defined as being in the eye of the beholder. However, there are a few theories as to what constitutes humor. Humor is generally known as a verbal or written incongruity, or inconsistency with a societal norm, and communicated with the intention of being amusing (O’Quin 1981). This review focuses on that humor which is intended to be humorous, regardless of the outcome. Humor is a diverse and complex creature that has been scrutinized by some of the most learned scholars over the years, as shown in this review, which has sources dating back to 1951. The wealth of knowledge gathered on humor over the years shows that humor can be used in just about any way imaginable. Humor can be used to alienate people (Emerson 1969; Fine and De Soucey 2005; Robinson and Smith-Lovin 2001; Stephenson 1951), to create conflict (Hatch 1997; Stephenson 1951), to ease conflict (Rose 2007; Romero and Cruthirds 2006; Stephenson 1951), to broach taboo topics (Emerson 1969; Sanford and Elder 1984; Stephenson 1951), or even to explore one’s own identity (Rose 2007; Sanford and Elder 1984).

This review will briefly touch on all of these things, but the main focus of this review is the use of humor in the workplace, and how it is used to the benefit of the company and its employees. The review explores how and why humor builds group cohesion, facilitates communication, relieves stress, and (spark) sparks creativity (Romero and Cruthirds 2006; Romero and Pescosolido 2008). Managers and employees who use humor in a productive manner can create an atmosphere that stimulates many desirable aspects of the corporate workplace. However, humor is not entirely a bag full of chuckles, as there are some serious implications that are associated with humor (Emerson 1969). Humor can be used in a variety of unpleasant ways(;), both intentionally and unintentionally, such as to create boundaries between people, and can cause hurt feelings. This is important because it is entirely counterproductive to humor that enhances work place productivity. Productivity in the work place is essential, especially to managers, as this generation of employees increasingly expect work to be fun (Romero and Pescosolido 2008). This is highly relevant in this day and age, as employers must look for innovative ways to motivate their employees.

Share

COinS