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International Journal of Humor Research

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Volume 31, Issue 3


Anecdotal evidence: understanding organizational reality through organizational humorous tales

Dariusz Jemielniak
  • Corresponding author
  • Management in Networked and Digital Societies (MINDS) department, Kozminski University, Warszaw, Poland
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/ Aleksandra Przegalińska / Agata Stasik
Published Online: 2018-05-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2017-0059


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.

Keywords: anecdotes; humor; narratives; storytelling; organizational culture; myths


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About the article

Dariusz Jemielniak

Dariusz Jemielniak, PhD in management, is Full Professor of Management at Kozminski University (Poland) where he heads MINDS (Management in Networked and Digital Societies) department, and faculty associate in Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University (USA). He is an author of “Common Knowledge? An Ethnography of Wikipedia” (2014, Stanford University Press, winner of Dorothy Lee Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Culture in 2015, and the Chair of the Polish Academy of Sciences academia award in 2016). In 2015 he joined Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. He had annual appointments at Cornell University (2004-2005), Harvard University (2007, 2011-2012, 2015-2016), University of California Berkeley (2008), MIT (2015-2016). His current research focuses on peer production, open collaboration, and citizen science. Previously he studied organizational workplace (2012, Edward Elgar, “The New Knowledge Workers”).

Aleksandra Przegalińska

Aleksandra Przegalińska, PhD in philosophy of artificial intelligence, Assistant Professor at Kozminski University, currently Research Fellow at the Center for Collective Intelligence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. Recent visiting scholar at The New School for Social Research/Brown University in New York City (2014). In 2011 Aleksandra worked as the Chairman of Media Regulation Working Party at the Council of European Union in Brussels. As a William J. Fulbright Scholar Aleksandra also majored in Sociology at The New School for Social Research in New York (2012), where she participated in research on identity in virtual reality, with particular emphasis on Second Life. Aleksandra’s current primary research interest include consequences of introducing artificial intelligence systems to people’s social and professional sphere as well as wearable technologies and human/bot interaction.

Agata Stasik

Agata Stasik, PhD in sociology, is Assistant Professor in management at Koźmiński University with background in sociology and science and technology studies. She did research on dynamics of shale gas development, the impact of the Internet on technological risk governance, risk communication, and crowdfunding of technological innovation. She has been visiting researcher at University of Vienna and University of Gothenburg.

Published Online: 2018-05-15

Published in Print: 2018-07-26

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

Citation Information: HUMOR, Volume 31, Issue 3, Pages 539–561, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2017-0059.

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