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Leader humor effectiveness – The divergent dynamics of leader humor over time in East Asia and North America

Yang, I.; Horak, S. & Chi, S.-C. (2020). Leader humor effectiveness – The divergent dynamics of leader humor over time in East Asia and North America. Thunderbird International Business Review, forthcoming. DOI: 10.1002/tie.22180
Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tie.22180 

Abstract
Management research on humor, which has mainly been conducted in Anglo-Saxon regions, generally tends to assume that the use of humor by a leader towards his or her subordinates has positive effects. However, despite the popularity of such studies in Anglo-Saxon regions, less attention has so far been paid to the aspects of the cultural context of leader humor, particularly in regard to time. We argue that leader humor is not so effective in East Asia because of different preferences in relation to communication style and divergent expectations and value sets during early-phase leader–member interactions. On the other hand, however, we also argue that leader humor may become equally if not more effective in the mature phase of leader–member interactions. While cultural differences, along with the current popularity of positive emotions, including humor, at work, are much more apparent at the early stage of a relationship, our exploration uncovers areas that are important for effective cross-cultural communication training and the development of managers for global assignments.

Keywords
Global leadership, international HRM, humor, culture, relationship building, uncertainty reduction, emotions, East Asia, North America, informal institutions.


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