Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton May 15, 2018

Anecdotal evidence: understanding organizational reality through organizational humorous tales

Dariusz Jemielniak, Aleksandra Przegalińska and Agata Stasik
From the journal HUMOR

Abstract

In the paper, we propose a new focus in qualitative organization studies, which we call organizational anecdotal evidence. The novelty of our method is in linking storytelling, studies of organizational anecdotes, and humor studies. We claim that organizational anecdotes, jokes, and short fictional stories should become a core object of organizational culture analysis, rather than be refuted as unimportant. This is so because the study of organizational anecdotes and fictional stories shared by the social actors is more meaningful and gives more insight into their culture than establishing mere facts. In the article, we briefly relate the limitations of factual studies in many areas of organizational research, describe the theoretical background of our method (coming from humor studies, storytelling, and organizational anecdotes analysis), and propose their combination as a new approach for organization scholars, namely, organizational anecdotal evidence research. The utility of the proposed methodological approach is demonstrated based on original research conducted in a public administration organization.

Funding statement: This research has been funded by Polish National Science Center, grant no.UMO-2015/19/B/HS4/03223

References

Akgün, AE., H. Keskin & J. Byrne. 2012. Organizational emotional memory. Management Decision 50(1). 95–114.10.1108/00251741211194895 Search in Google Scholar

Alvesson, M. 1993. Cultural Perspectives on Organizations. New York: Cambridge University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Alvesson, M. 2012. Understanding organizational culture. London - New Delhi - Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Search in Google Scholar

Austin, JL. 1962. How to do things with words. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Bakhtin, MM. 1984. Rabelais and his world. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Bakhtin, MM. 1986. Speech genres and other late essays. Austin: University of Texas Press. Search in Google Scholar

Bauman, R. 1975. Verbal Art as Performance. American Anthropologist 77. 290–311.10.1525/aa.1975.77.2.02a00030 Search in Google Scholar

Benton, G. 1988. The origin of the political joke. In C. Powell & C. Patton (Eds.), Humor in society: Resistance and control, pp. 85–105. New York: St: Martin’s Press. Search in Google Scholar

Berger, PL. & T. Luckman. 1967. The social construction of reality; a treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. Search in Google Scholar

Boje, DM. 1994. Organizational Storytelling. The Struggles of Pre-modern, Modern and Postmodern Organizational Learning Discourses. Management Learning 25(3). 433–461.10.1177/135050769402500304 Search in Google Scholar

Boje, DM. 1995. Stories of the storytelling organization: A postmodern analysis of Disney as” Tamara-Land”. Academy of Management Journal 38(4). 997–1035. Search in Google Scholar

Boje, DM. 2001a. Carnivalesque resistance to global spectacle: A critical postmodern theory of public administration. Administrative Theory & Praxis 23(3). 431–458.10.1080/10841806.2001.11643535 Search in Google Scholar

Boje, DM. 2001b. Narrative methods for organizational and communication research. London - Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE. Search in Google Scholar

Boje, DM. 2008. Storytelling Organizations. London - Thousand Oaks, CA - New Delhi: Sage. Search in Google Scholar

Boje, DM. 2014. Storytelling organizational practices: Managing in the quantum age. New York: Routledge. Search in Google Scholar

Boje, DM., M. Driver & Y. Cai. 2005. Fiction and humor in transforming McDonald’s narrative strategies. Culture and Organization 11(3). 195–208.10.1080/14759550500203151 Search in Google Scholar

Boje, DM., JT. Luhman & AL. Cunliffe. 2003. A dialectic perspective on the organization theatre metaphor. American Communication Journal 6(2). 1–16. Search in Google Scholar

Boyce, M. E. 1996. Organizational story and storytelling: A critical review. Journal of organizational change management 9(5). 5–26.10.1108/09534819610128760 Search in Google Scholar

Bruner, J. 1991. The narrative construction of reality. Critical Inquiry 18(1). 1–21.10.1086/448619 Search in Google Scholar

Buchanan, EA. (Ed.). 2004. Readings in virtual research ethics: Issues and controversies. Hershey - London - Melbourne - Singapore: Information Science Publishing. Search in Google Scholar

Burke, D. 1998. Street Talk: How to Speak and Understand American Slang. Los Angeles - San Francisco: Optima Books. Search in Google Scholar

Butler, J. 1990. Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York - Milton Park: Routledge. Search in Google Scholar

Cann, A., AJ. Watson & EA. Bridgewater. 2014. Assessing humor at work: The humor climate questionnaire. Humor 27(2). 307–323. Search in Google Scholar

Case, P. & H. Gaggiotti. 2016. Italo Calvino and the organizational imagination: Reading social organization through urban metaphors. Culture and Organization 22(2). 178–198.10.1080/14759551.2014.901325 Search in Google Scholar

Clandinin, DJ. 2006. Handbook of narrative inquiry: Mapping a methodology. London - New Delhi - Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Search in Google Scholar

Claver, E., J. Llopis, JL. Gascó, H. Molina & FJ. Conca. 1999. Public administration: From bureaucratic culture to citizen-oriented culture. International Journal of Public Sector Management 12(5). 455–464.10.1108/09513559910300226 Search in Google Scholar

Conquergood, D. 1992. Ethnography, rhetoric, and performance. Quarterly journal of Speech 78(1). 80–97.10.1080/00335639209383982 Search in Google Scholar

Cooper, CD. 2005. Just joking around? Employee humor expression as an ingratiatory behavior. Academy of Management Review 30(4). 765–776.10.5465/amr.2005.18378877 Search in Google Scholar

Corvellec, H. 1996. Stories of Achievements-Narrative Features of Organizational Performance. Lund: Lund University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Coser, LA. 1974. Greedy institutions; patterns of undivided commitment. New York: Free Press. Search in Google Scholar

Czarniawska, B. 1997. A four times told tale: Combining narrative and scientific knowledge in organization studies. Organization 4(1). 7–30.10.1177/135050849741002 Search in Google Scholar

Czarniawska, B. 2004. Narratives in social science research. London-Thousand Oaks-New Delhi: Sage. Search in Google Scholar

Czarniawska, B. 2014. Social science research: From field to desk. London - New Delhi - Thousand Oaks: Sage. Search in Google Scholar

Czarniawska, B. 2017. The Fate of Counter-Narratives. In T. Kuhn, M. Wolff Lundholt & S. Frandsen (Eds.), Counter-Narratives and Organization, pp. 195. New York - Oxon: Routledge. Search in Google Scholar

Czarniawska-Joerges, B. 1998. Narrative approach in organization studies. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications. Search in Google Scholar

Czarniawska-Joerges, B. 1999. Writing management: Organization theory as a literary genre. Oxford - New York: Oxford University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Czarniawska-Joerges, B. & P. Guillet De Monthoux. 1994. Good novels, better management: Reading organizational realities. Chur: Harwood Academic Publishers. Search in Google Scholar

Dailey, SL. & L. Browning. 2014. Retelling stories in organizations: Understanding the functions of narrative repetition. Academy of Management Review 39(1). 22–43.10.5465/amr.2011.0329 Search in Google Scholar

De Angelis, R. 2003. Between anthropology and literature. London: Routledge. Search in Google Scholar

Denzin, NK. 2003. Performance Ethnography: Critical Pedagogy and the Politics of Culture. London: Sage Publications. Search in Google Scholar

Duncan, WJ. & JP. Feisal. 1989. No laughing matter: Patterns of humor in the workplace. Organizational Dynamics 17(4). 18–30.10.1016/S0090-2616(89)80024-5 Search in Google Scholar

Fleming, P. & A. Spicer. 2007. Contesting the corporation: Struggle, power and resistance in organizations. Cambridge. UK - New York: Cambridge University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Fleming, P. & A. Sturdy. 2011. ‘Being yourself’in the electronic sweatshop: New forms of normative control. Human Relations 64(2). 177–200.10.1177/0018726710375481 Search in Google Scholar

Forabosco, G. 1992. Cognitive aspects of the humor process: The concept of incongruity. Humor 5(1/2). 45–68. Search in Google Scholar

Gabriel, Y. 1995. The unmanaged organization: Stories, fantasies and subjectivity. Organization studies 16(3). 477–501.10.1177/017084069501600305 Search in Google Scholar

Gabriel, Y. 2000. Storytelling in organizations: Facts, fictions, and fantasies. New York-Oxford: Oxford University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Gabriel, Y. 2004a. Myths, stories, and organizations: Premodern narratives for our times. Oxford - New York: Oxford University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Gabriel, Y. 2004b. The narrative veil: Truth and untruths in storytelling. In Y. Gabriel (Ed.), Myths, Stories and Organizations: Premodern narratives for our times, pp. 17–31. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Geertz, C. 1973. The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic Books. Search in Google Scholar

Geertz, C. 1983. Local knowledge: Further essays in interpretive anthropology. New York: Basic Books. Search in Google Scholar

Glaser, BG. & AL. Strauss. 1967. The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Hawthorne, N.Y.: Aldine de Gruyter. Search in Google Scholar

Grant, D., T. Keenoy & C. Oswick. 1998. Discourse and organization. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications. Search in Google Scholar

Hatch, MJ. 1997. Irony and the social construction in the humor of a management team. Organization Science 8(3). 275–288.10.1287/orsc.8.3.275 Search in Google Scholar

Hatch, MJ. & SB. Ehrlich. 1993. Spontaneous humor as an indicator of paradox and ambiguity in organizations. Organizational Studies 14(4). 539–560. Search in Google Scholar

Hjorth, D. 2005. Organizational entrepreneurship with de Certeau on creating heterotopias (or spaces for play). Journal of Management Inquiry 4(14). 386–398. Search in Google Scholar

Höpfl, H. 1995a. Organizational rhetoric and the threat of ambivalence. Studies in Cultures, Organizations and Societies 1(2). 175–187.10.1080/10245289508523454 Search in Google Scholar

Höpfl, H. 1995b. Rhetoric and the threat of ambivalence. Studies in Cultures, Organizations and Societies 1(2). 175–187.10.1080/10245289508523454 Search in Google Scholar

Hunter, C., D. Jemielniak & A. Postuła. 2010. Temporal and Spatial Shifts within Playful Work. Journal of Organizational Change Management 23(1). 87–102.10.1108/09534811011017225 Search in Google Scholar

Jabri, M. 2005. Narrative identity achieved through utterances: The implications of Bakhtin for managing change and learning. Philosophy of Management 5(3). 83–90.10.5840/pom2005539 Search in Google Scholar

Jemielniak, D. 2008. Little Johnny and the Wizard of OS: The PC User as a Fool Hero. In M. Kostera (Ed.), Organizational Olympians: Heroes and heroines of organizational myths, London: Palgrave. Search in Google Scholar

Jemielniak, D. & M. Kostera. 2010. Narratives Of Irony And Failure In Ethnographic Work. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences 27(4). 335–347.10.1002/cjas.177 Search in Google Scholar

Kahn, WA. 1989. Toward a sense of organizational humor: Implications for organizational diagnosis and change. The Journal of applied behavioral science 25(1). 45–63.10.1177/0021886389251004 Search in Google Scholar

Klerk, V. d. 1991. Expletives: Men only?. Communications Monographs 58(2). 156–169.10.1080/03637759109376220 Search in Google Scholar

Knights, D. & H. Willmott. 1999. Management lives: Power and identity in work organizations. London - Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE. Search in Google Scholar

Kostera, M. 2007. Archetypes. In S. Clegg & J. R. Bailey (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Organization Studies, London: Sage. Search in Google Scholar

Kostera, M. (Ed.). 2008. Organizational Olympians. London: Palgrave-McMillan. Search in Google Scholar

Kunda, G. 1992. Engineering culture: Control and commitment in a high-tech corporation, Rev. ed. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Landreville, KD. 2015. Satire as uncertain territory: Uncertainty expression in discussion about political satire, opinion, and news. Humor 28(4). 559–582. Search in Google Scholar

Lang, JC. & CH. Lee. 2010. Workplace humor and organizational creativity. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 21(1). 46–60.10.1080/09585190903466855 Search in Google Scholar

Latour, B. 1986. The powers of association. In J. Law (Ed.), Power, Action and Belief - A New Sociology of Knowledge?, London - Boston - Henley: Routledge&Kegan Paul. Search in Google Scholar

Lynch, OH. 2009. Kitchen antics: The importance of humor and maintaining professionalism at work. Journal of Applied Communication Research 37(4). 444–464.10.1080/00909880903233143 Search in Google Scholar

Mao, J.-Y., JTJ. Chiang, Y. Zhang & M. Gao. 2017. Humor as a Relationship Lubricant: The Implications of Leader Humor on Transformational Leadership Perceptions and Team Performance. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. doi: DOI:10.1177/0018726708088999. Search in Google Scholar

Martin, J. & C. Siehl. 1983. Organizational culture and counterculture: An uneasy symbiosis. Organizational Dynamics 12(2). 52–64.10.1016/0090-2616(83)90033-5 Search in Google Scholar

Morreall, J. 1983. Humor and emotion. American Philosophical Quarterly 20(3). 297–304. Search in Google Scholar

Morreall, J. 1991. Humor and work. Humor-International Journal of Humor Research 4(3-4). 359–374. Search in Google Scholar

Oring, E. 2004. Risky Business: Political Jokes under Repressive Regimes. Western Folklore 63(3). 209–236. Search in Google Scholar

Perks, LG. 2012. The ancient roots of humor theory. Humor 25(2). 119–132. Search in Google Scholar

Phillips, N. 1995. Telling organizational tales: On the role of narrative fiction in the study of organizations. Organization studies 16(4). 625–649.10.1177/017084069501600408 Search in Google Scholar

Phillips, N., TB. Lawrence & C. Hardy. 2004. Discourse and institutions. The Academy of Management Review 29(4). 635–652.10.5465/amr.2004.14497617 Search in Google Scholar

Rhodes, C. 2001. The Simpsons, popular culture, and the organizational carnival. Journal of Management Inquiry 10(4). 374–383.10.1177/1056492601104010 Search in Google Scholar

Rhodes, C. & A. D. Brown. 2005. Writing responsibly: Narrative fiction and organization studies. Organization 12(4). 467–491.10.1177/1350508405052757 Search in Google Scholar

Romero, E. & A. Pescosolido. 2008. Humor and group effectiveness. Human Relations 61(3). 395–418.10.1177/0018726708088999 Search in Google Scholar

Schaefer, ZA. 2013. Getting dirty with humor: Co-constructing workplace identities through performative scripts. Humor 26(4). 511–530. Search in Google Scholar

Schieffelin, E. L. 1998. Problematizing Performance. In F. Hughes-Freeland (Ed.), Ritual, Performance, Media, 194–207. London: Routledge. Search in Google Scholar

Schultz, F., I. Castelló & M. Morsing. 2013. The construction of corporate social responsibility in network societies: A communication view. Journal of Business Ethics 115(4). 681–692.10.1007/s10551-013-1826-8 Search in Google Scholar

Shifman, L. & M. Blondheim. 2010. The medium is the joke: Online humor about and by networked computers. New Media & Society 12(8). 1348–1367.10.1177/1461444810365311 Search in Google Scholar

Smircich, L. 1983. Organizations as shared meanings. In L. R. Pondy, P. J. Frost, G. Morgan & T. Dandridge (Eds.), Organizational symbolism: Monographs in Organizational and Industrial Relations, pp. 55–66. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. Search in Google Scholar

Thomae, M. & A. Pina. 2015. Sexist humor and social identity: The role of sexist humor in men’s in-group cohesion, sexual harassment, rape proclivity, and victim blame. Humor 28(2). 187–204. Search in Google Scholar

Vigoda, E. 2003. Performance and Democracy in the Public Sector: Exploring Some Missing Links in the Study of Administration and Society (Part B-Administrative Performance, Citizens’ Participation, and Community Involvement). International Journal of Public Administration 26(8-9). 985–989.10.1081/PAD-120019356 Search in Google Scholar

Waymer, D. & N. Logan. 2016. Extending Organizational Memory and Corporate Communications Research via Autoethnography/Autobiography. The Qualitative Report 21(8). 1457–1474. Search in Google Scholar

Weaver, S. 2010. The ‘Other’Laughs Back: Humour and Resistance in Anti-racist Comedy. Sociology 44(1). 31–48.10.1177/0038038509351624 Search in Google Scholar

Weick, KE. 1969/1979. The social psychology of organizing. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publications. Search in Google Scholar

Weick, KE. & F. Westley. 1999. Organizational learning: Affirming an oxymoron. In S. Clegg, C. Hardy & W. Nord (Eds.), Handbook of organizational studies, pp. 190–208. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Search in Google Scholar

Westwood, RI. 2004. Comic relief: Subversion and catharsis in organizational comedic theatre. Organization studies 25(5). 775–795.10.1177/0170840604042414 Search in Google Scholar

Westwood, RI. & A. Johnston. 2013. Humor in organization: From function to resistance. Humor 26(2). 219–247. Search in Google Scholar

White, HV. 1973. Metahistory: The historical imagination in nineteenth-century Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Yarwood, DL. 1995. Humor and administration: A serious inquiry into unofficial organizational communication. Public Administration Review 55(1). 81–90.10.2307/976830 Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2018-05-15
Published in Print: 2018-07-26

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston