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.
Journal of Service Theory and Practice – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 14, 2016
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