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The antecedents and consequences of humour for service: A review and directions for research

Christine Mathies (School of Marketing, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Tung Moi Chiew (School of Marketing, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Michael Kleinaltenkamp (School of Business and Economics, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 14 March 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

While researchers in other disciplines seek to determine the impact that humour has in personal interactions, studies of humour in service delivery are lacking. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether it is beneficial to deliberately use humour in service encounters.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper provides a comprehensive review of humour research in multiple disciplines to assess the applicability of their key findings to the service domain. By establishing the antecedents, types, and consequences of humour, the authors build a framework and propositions to help service researchers uncover the potential of injecting humour into service interactions.

Findings

The authors find that using humour in service encounters is an ingenious affiliative behaviour which strengthens rapport between service employees and their customers. Humour also permits frontline service employees to better cope with the emotional challenges of their work, thus promising to reduce emotional labour and increase well-being. The effectiveness of service recovery efforts may also grow if employees use humour successfully to soften unpleasant emotional reactions and accept responsibility.

Originality/value

The authors explore cross-disciplinary humour research to apply the findings to the use of humour in service encounters. The authors also attempt to identify situations in which humour usage is most promising or beneficial, as well as its main beneficiaries.

Keywords

Citation

Mathies, C., Chiew, T.M. and Kleinaltenkamp, M. (2016), "The antecedents and consequences of humour for service: A review and directions for research", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 137-162. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSTP-09-2014-0187

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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