Title: Humour use in the workplace: a key to achievements or a Trojan horse of harassment?

Authors: Paschalia Patsala; Anastasia Lampreli; Constantinos-Vasilios Priporas

Addresses: Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK Research and Innovation, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1ET, UK ' University of Edinburgh, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL, UK ' Department of Marketing, Branding and Tourism, Business School, Middlesex University, Hendon Campus, W207 Williams Building, The Burroughs, NW4 4 BT, London, UK

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is multi-faceted: it fundamentally aims to explore the use of humorous discourse in work environment, focusing mainly on gender and age differences. Within this context, the present work uncovers nuanced and significant communication tactics applied both by males and females in business lieu. It also discusses whether humour in the workplace constitutes an innocent form of entertainment, or it may have adverse consequences for employees, disguising the biased and derogatory essence of the remarks made. The types and manifold functions of humour are presented, unravelling the positive and negative outcomes of its usage. Particular emphasis is placed on those features of humorous interaction at work that can lead to harassing episodes, as well as on the consequences of sexist humour. Other issues elaborated on in the paper are gender differences, stereotypes, organisational tension and confrontation, as well as the culture of tolerance of sexism in professional contexts.

Keywords: humour; organisational communication; gender; harassment; sexist humour; business discourse; confrontation.

DOI: 10.1504/GBER.2021.118707

Global Business and Economics Review, 2021 Vol.25 No.3/4, pp.313 - 330

Received: 08 Jun 2020
Accepted: 02 Dec 2020

Published online: 03 Nov 2021 *

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