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Palgrave Macmillan

Laugh out Loud: A User’s Guide to Workplace Humor

  • Book
  • © 2019


  • Presents research knowledge of the nature, practice and management of humor in an accessible way to management practitioners and other organizational staff
  • Raises the consciousness and improves the practice and/or management of work humor of all readers
  • Includes practical guidance in an engaging manner and a self-assessment device
  • Identifies and offers help for workplace situations where humor can become highly problematic and create issues for managers and HR teams
  • Offers guidelines for creating beneficial and enjoyable humor contexts and interactions in modern workplaces
  • Uses stories, vignettes, joke analyses, memes, and a variety of other realistic workplace humor examples to enliven the text and illustrate key points

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About this book

This book is the first-ever authoritative work on the use and management of humor in the workplace. It is a practical guide for everyone involved: the humorists (‘jokers’), the targets (sometimes ‘victims’), the observers (‘audience’) and most of all the managers who have to ‘set the tone’ and encourage, control and manage humor.
Humor is part and parcel of every workplace. However, while it usually demonstrates and fosters a united, happy workforce, it can at times be deeply damaging and divisive.
The authors – academics with vast organizational experience and a research-based understanding of humor at work – bring together state-of-the art knowledge of the topic, making it fun, accessible and readable for all humor participants. The topics include how humor works, humor cultures in organizations, the many forms of workplace humor and their pros and cons, humor rituals at work, digital humor, workplace jokers, the 21st centuryissue of ‘political correctness’,  and both the ‘bright side’ of humor (assisting positive cultures, making work ‘fun’), and its ‘dark side’ (where humor offends and humiliates). 
With over 60  ‘real life’ illustrative stories of workplace humor, a self-completion questionnaire to measure the Humor Climate in your organization, end-of-chapter ‘takeaways’ and an end-of-book summary advocating ‘best practice’, the book is a ‘fun’, how-to-do-it guide that will both inform and entertain. 

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Table of contents (10 chapters)


“Laugh Out Loud should be of enormous value to any leader who accepts the challenge of building and maintaining a superb work place that is a joy to be part of and that delivers superlative results.” (Tom Peters, international consultant and author of In Search of Excellence (1982))

Authors and Affiliations

  • Management & International Business, University of Auckland Business School, Auckland, New Zealand

    Barbara Plester

  • University of Auckland Business School, Auckland, New Zealand

    Kerr Inkson

About the authors

Barbara Plester has needed to hone her own sense of humor to cope with her noisy, zany family, friends and pets. Born and bred in New Zealand (a ’kiwi’) she has researched humor and fun for the last 14 years. Such a research focus has elicited disbelief, ridicule but also intense interest at times. Based at the University of Auckland Business School for the past eleven years, Barbara has published academic papers in both humor and management journals, book chapters in edited volumes, and a complete book of her humor research in 2016 - The Complexity of Workplace Humour. She uses her humor research experiences in her teaching, highlighting the implications for workplace issues and organizational behavior. She has received two awards for excellence in teaching and was awarded ‘Senior Fellowship’ of the UK-based Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) in 2018. Chairing the Equity Committee for her Faculty, Barbara has a keen interest in promoting tolerance and equityfor all groups of people. Retaining her own sense of humor and fun at work and home she tries hard to constantly maintain her mantra of ‘laugh out loud!’

Kerr Inkson is a Scottish academic who emigrated to New Zealand when young. His field is organizational behavior, including research on work motivation and careers. In a 55-year career he has served seven universities, five of them in New Zealand, including 25 years at The University of Auckland, where he is now an Emeritus Professor. Recently he has focused on book writing, always with co-authors who know more about the topic than he does, the most recent of his 20 books being Managing Expatriates, with Yvonne McNulty; Understanding Careers, with Nicky Dries and John Arnold; and Cultural Intelligence (3rd edition), with David C Thomas. Kerr’s retirement hobbies are amateur dramatics, writing (including plays) and golf. His favorite radio and TV humor tends to British anarchic (The Goon Show, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers), improvisational (Whose Line is It Anyway?, Qi) and American-satirical (Stephen Colbert, John Oliver). He dislikes stand-up comedy, except for that of his compatriot, the incomparable Billy Connolly.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Laugh out Loud: A User’s Guide to Workplace Humor

  • Authors: Barbara Plester, Kerr Inkson

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Singapore

  • eBook Packages: Business and Management, Business and Management (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-981-13-0282-4Published: 05 September 2018

  • eBook ISBN: 978-981-13-0283-1Published: 24 September 2018

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: X, 186

  • Number of Illustrations: 4 b/w illustrations, 1 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Employee Health and Wellbeing, Organization, Business Strategy/Leadership

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