Why did the emu cross the road? Exploring employees’ perception and expectations of humor in the Australian workplace

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Workplace humor is currently an emerging area of study in management research. While studies on the functions and outcomes of workplace humor in the United States abound, there is little research on humor in Australian workplaces. This limits Australian organizations from tapping the rich potential of humor to achieve positive employee and organizational outcomes. This study aims to start a research agenda on workplace humor in Australia by conducting a survey study of Australian employees’ perception of the occurrence and acceptability of humor behavior in their workplaces and by analyzing humor events at work. To achieve the latter objective, first, the scattered workplace humor literature is reviewed to develop a single framework that can effectively situate and capture humor events. Findings from 433 respondents indicate that humor occurs across a variety of organizations in Australia and that employees report positive views toward workplace humor. A surprising finding was that employees reported they expect their managers to use humor with them. Implications for managers and future research directions are developed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-584
Number of pages22
JournalAustralian Journal of Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Australia
  • humor behavior
  • humor events
  • managerial humor
  • workplace humor

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