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Barbara Plester

Doctor of Philosophy, (Management)
Study Completed: 2008
Massey Business School


Thesis Title
Laugh Out Loud: The Relationship between Humour and Organisational Culture

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Ms Plester’s research explored the influence of organisational culture on humour enactment in four New Zealand companies from different industries. A qualitative mixed-method approach was used and an assessment tool was created to compare levels of formality and/or informality in the organisations studied. Ms Plester created a theoretical model to explain significant aspects of the relationship between humour and organisational culture. She contends that formality levels within organisational culture influence workplace humour enactment. Her research found that within organisations, boundaries were created and these constrained and/or enabled humour activities. Specific individuals (identified as either jokers or gatekeepers) assumed dichotomous roles and within these roles either challenged or constrained the humour boundaries. Organisational members perceived that humour and organisational culture have both positive and negative impacts upon workplace outcomes.

Dr Margot Edwards
Dr Mark Orams
Associate Professor Janet Sayers