Humor Boosts Bottom Line, Study Shows
Philadelphia, Pa. -- A recent study reveals a direct link between
a manager's use of humor and enhanced corporate performance.
"It's long been argued that a good sense of humor is a key communication
tool that can bring about group cohesion and commitment, thus facilitating
good performance," said Dr. John J. Sosik, study co-author and assistant
professor in the graduate management program at Penn State's Great Valley
graduate campus in suburban Philadelphia.
"But until now, humor's effects have largely been untested. This study
gives us some evidence of these effects that, in the past, were just hunches."
The study, presented at the national meeting of the Society of Industrial
and Organizational Psychology in San Diego, is co-authored by Dr. Bruce
J. Avolio, professor of management at the State University of New York,
Binghamton; Dr. Jane M. Howell, associate professor in the School of Business
at the University of Western Ontario and Sosik.
Titled "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Bottom Line,"
the study examined the effects of leadership behavior and humor style on
individual and unit performance. Data were collected in a major Canadian
financial institution by gathering survey data from 322 employees. Performance
data, collected a year later, measured unit performance and performance
"The pattern of results indicates that the style of humor exhibited
by a leader had a positive impact on unit performance...These preliminary
results suggest that how leaders influence their direct reports with respect
to humor style may be one of a number of factors which contribute to bottomline
performance," explained Avolio.
Interestingly, managers who had adopted a "transformational" leadership
style - a management style research has shown to promote the highest levels
of employee and overall organizational performance - were found to use humor
most often, the study found.
"This is an exciting finding," Sosik said. "Humor juxtaposes
two seemingly opposite concepts. As a result, employees are able to visualize
concepts they might not have otherwise considered, thus creating new ideas
and potentially an improved bottom line. In short, this suggests that a
leader's use of humor may help shape a creative and efficacious work force."
Avolio, also a fellow at of the Center for Leadership Studies at SUNY Binghamton,
has authored or edited numerous research articles and several books, including
Improving Organizational Effectiveness Through Transformational Leadership
(co-editor, 1994). Sosik has published research papers in numerous management
journals, including the Journal of Leadership Studies and the Journal of
Business and Psychology. Howell, a recognized expert on charismatic leadership,
has also published widely in leading journals.
Contact: Nancy Crabb (610) 648-3276 firstname.lastname@example.org