Joking aside: Theorizing laughter in organizations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Humour is becoming an increasingly prevalent topic in organization studies. On the one hand, humour is said to enable workers to undermine management control; on the other hand, humour is said to provide managers with a resource for ensuring compliance with corporate objectives. This paper seeks to challenge the duality found in the literature between rebellious and disciplinary forms of humour by examining the meaning and significance of laughter in organizations. Following Bergson, it will be argued that laughter serves to rectify overly rigid behaviour that has temporarily disrupted the natural elasticity of life. This will serve to attune us to the way in which laughter - whether it is directed at a dominant group or a marginalized group - plays a socially normative role in organizations through processes of ridicule and embarrassment.


  • Nick Butler
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Business Administration


  • worker resistance, Bergson, laughter, humour, management control
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-58
JournalCulture and Organization
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch