Comic relief: Subversion and catharsis in organizational comedic theatre

Westwood, R. (2004) Comic relief: Subversion and catharsis in organizational comedic theatre. Organization Studies, 25 5: 775-795. doi:10.1177/0170840604042414

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Author Westwood, R.
Title Comic relief: Subversion and catharsis in organizational comedic theatre
Journal name Organization Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0170-8406
Publication date 2004
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/0170840604042414
Volume 25
Issue 5
Start page 775
End page 795
Total pages 21
Editor H. Tsoukas
Place of publication London
Publisher Sage
Collection year 2004
Language eng
Subject C1
350299 Business and Management not elsewhere classified
720403 Management
720203 Industrial organisations
Abstract There has been a growth of interest in the role of humour in organizations from both practitioner and academic perspectives. Various claims for the functionality of humour have been made, ranging from stress reduction to helping form and cement corporate cultures. Latching on to these presumed benefits, businesses and consultants have begun to employ humour and comedy in a direct and explicit manner. However, there is a counterpoint, which suggests that humour cannot always be managed and in fact has subversive qualities. This article addresses the issue of the subversive potential of comedy in organizational contexts. It draws illustratively on the case of a successful corporate comedian to do so. The article argues, through an analysis of the case, the history and philosophy of comedy, and theories of the comedic, that while comedy has inherent subversive potential, it most often is contained. Indeed, it suggests that comedy works by intruding as a potential threat to mundane reality, but offers comic relief when it is apparent that the threat will not be actualized and the status quo ante prevails. Implications for using corporate comedy are drawn..
Keyword Management
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
2005 Higher Education Research Data Collection
UQ Business School Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 15 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 26 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 03:17:04 EST