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Humor and Administration: A Serious Inquiry into Unofficial Organizational Communication

Dean L. Yarwood
Public Administration Review
Vol. 55, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 1995), pp. 81-90
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Society for Public Administration
DOI: 10.2307/976830
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/976830
Page Count: 10
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Humor and Administration: A Serious Inquiry into Unofficial Organizational Communication
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Abstract

What is the importance of humor in public administration? Dean Yarwood examines the sources, types, and consequences of humor in administration. He suggests that much administrative humor comes from incongruity-from contrasting the naturalness and ease of traditional institutions with the forced, formal character of bureaucracy. Social scientists from a variety of disciplines have carried out empirical studies of humor in organizations. They conclude that humor has important consequences for hierarchy and for the social dynamics of organizations. Another source for understanding humor in organizations is creative literature. Here, forms of humor abound that are not emphasized in the social science literature. The author concludes that the study of organizational humor ought to be of interest to both public managers and scholars because it is part of the serious business of organizations.

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