Business Agility and Information Technology Diffusion

Volume 180 of the series IFIP International Federation for Information Processing pp 129-144

Fooling Around: The Corporate Jester as an Effective Change Agent for Technological Innovation

  • Tom McMasterAffiliated withUniversity of Salford
  • , David WastellAffiliated withUniversity of Manchester and Nottingham Business School
  • , Helle Zinner HenriksenAffiliated withCopenhagen Business School


In this reflective paper, we examine the roles and attributes of the change agent in the context of the organisational innovation adoption process. Various skills and qualities are required and expected of such a role, however wit and humor are not among those qualities typically emphasized in the subject literature. Yet these may be essential ingredients in the successful management of change. We examine the role of humour in the workplace in particular, as an empowerment tool on one hand, and as a display of subversion on the other. We note that the traditional role and attributes of the court jester exude those very qualities that might be missing in traditional descriptions of the change agent: deep insight, wit, and the ability to exert strong influence through humor. We consider the notion of the corporate jester and discuss whether such a role may hold any merit for the process of change management.