Social interactions at work can be awkward and tense, creating barriers for organizations to hire and retain their most qualified talents and capitalize on the benefits of their employee diversity. As leaders may not always recognize this tension or act to reduce it, employees may need to actively reshape the situation to avoid the interpersonal and career consequences. Although doing so could be deemed agentic and less acceptable for lower status employees (e.g., non-leaders and female employees), using humor may “save face” for both parties, allowing humor users to create favorable impressions particularly in difficult situations. We empirically examine these claims in a series of mixed methods studies. By more explicitly examining key features of the humorists and contexts while comparing multiple theoretical mechanisms, we aim to highlight when, how, and for whom humor may be a means to “laugh it up” the career ladder.
Jamie Gloor is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Technical University of Munich and the University of Zurich. She currently holds a Swiss National Science Foundation Grant with Agnes Baeker to investigate humor as a strategic career tool, particularly for low-status group members (e.g., non-leaders and women) and in difficult situations. Her doctoral research on the “maybe baby” effect won Emerald Best Dissertation Award at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting (2017) and was a finalist for Most Inspirational Paper for inspiring new thought in management research at the European Academy of Management Conference (2016). Her research has received international news coverage in The New York Times, Reuters, Sydney Morning Herald, and Glamour (among others).
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