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Humour in Business: a double-edged sword. A study of humour and style shifting in intercultural business meetings

By P. Rogerson-Revell


This paper discusses the use of humour in a series of intercultural business meetings. The findings of the study show that humour is present in all meetings but the frequency and tone of the humour varies with the style of the meetings. Indeed shifts in style between formality and informality are a common feature of the meetings and humour is one of several interactive strategies which cluster together to mark these shifts towards greater informality. It appears that these style shifts and the humour within them can be used strategically to show solidarity and power, particularly by the dominant ‘in-group’ of western, male participants. It is suggested that, in these meetings, humour acts as a ‘double-edged sword’ being used to both positive and negative effect: facilitating, on the one hand, collaboration and inclusion and, on the other, collusion and exclusion

Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.pragma.2006.09.005
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