ArticlePDF Available

The relationship of leaders’ humor and employees’ work engagement mediated by positive emotions: Moderating effect of leaders’ transformational leadership style

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine affective events theory (AET) by testing the mediating effect of employees’ positive affect at work in the relationships of leaders’ use of positive humor with employees’ work engagement, job performance, and organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs); and the moderating effect of transformational leadership style on the relationship between leaders’ use of positive humor and subordinate’s positive affect at work. Design/methodology/approach Data were obtained from 235 full-time employees working for a large information technology and business consulting corporation. Moderated mediation (Hayes, 2013) was performed to test the proposed model. Findings Leaders’ positive humor was related to creation of subordinates’ positive emotions at work and work engagement. Positive emotions at work did not mediate between leaders’ humor and performance or OCBs. In addition, leaders’ use of transformational leadership style made the relationship between leaders’ positive humor and employees’ positive emotions at work stronger. Research limitations/implications This study provides evidence of the positive relationship of leaders’ positive humor with employees’ positive emotions at work and work engagement. Such knowledge may help to inform the training workshops in humor employed by practitioners and potentially create a more enjoyable and fun workplace, which can lead to greater employee engagement. Originality/value AET helps explain effects of leader humor, but the effects of are complex. Leader’s use of even positive humor is most likely to have favorable effects mainly depending on their leadership style (transformational) and if their humor successfully leads to positive emotions among employees.
Content may be subject to copyright.
QUERY FORM
JOURNAL: Leadership &Organization Development Journal
VOL/ISSUE NO: 37/8
ARTICLE NO: 587157
ARTICLE TITLE: The relationship of leaders’ humor and employees’ work engagement
mediated by positive emotions: moderating effect of leaders’ transfor-
mational leadership style
AUTHORS: Ashita Goswami, Prakash Nair, Terry Beehr and Michael
Grossenbacher
Note to Editors: The queries listed in the table below are for the Author. Please ignore
these queries.
Note to Authors: During the production of your article we came across the following
queries listed in the table below. Please review the queries and insert
your reply or correction at the corresponding line in the PDF proof of
the article which follows this query page.
No. Queries
Q1 Please check the change in spelling from Csikkszentmihalyi, 1996 to Csikszentmihalyi, 1996 as
per the reference list in the sentence Little examinationcreativityis correct. Else provide
complete publication details for Csikkszentmihalyi, 1996.
Q2 Please check the change in spelling from Decker and Rotundo, 2001 to Decker and Rotondo, 2001
as per the reference list in the sentence Little examinationrelationsis correct. Else provide
complete publication details for Decker and Rotundo, 2001.
Q3 References Martin and Dobbins (1988); Priest and Swain (2002); Williams and Anderson (1991)
are cited in the text but not included in the reference list. Please provide complete publication
details to include in the reference list; else confirm the deletion of the text citation.
Q4 Please check the change in spelling from Weiss and Crapanzano, 1996 to Weiss and Cropanzano,
1996 as per the reference list in the sentence The combination of leaderspositive humorat
workis correct. Else provide complete publication details for Weiss and Crapanzano, 1996.
Q5 Please check the change in spelling from Bono and Ellies, 2006 to Bono and Ilies, 2006 as per the
reference list in the sentence Although theexamined beforeis correct. Else provide complete
publication details for Bono and Ellies, 2006.
QUERY FORM
JOURNAL: Leadership &Organization Development Journal
VOL/ISSUE NO: 37/8
ARTICLE NO: 587157
ARTICLE TITLE: The relationship of leaders’ humor and employees’ work engagement
mediated by positive emotions: moderating effect of leaders’ transfor-
mational leadership style
AUTHORS: Ashita Goswami, Prakash Nair, Terry Beehr and Michael
Grossenbacher
Note to Editors: The queries listed in the table below are for the Author. Please ignore
these queries.
Note to Authors: During the production of your article we came across the following
queries listed in the table below. Please review the queries and insert
your reply or correction at the corresponding line in the PDF proof of
the article which follows this query page.
Q6 Please provide the issue number in the reference: Avolio et al. (2009); Barbour (1998); Bledow
et al. (2013); Burford (1987); Hiller et al. (2011); Lippitt (1982); Podsakoff et al. (2012); Podsakoff
et al. (2009); Roberts and Wilbanks (2012); Schaufeli et al. (2002); Freud (1928).
Q7 Please provide the volume and page range in the reference: Cheng and Wang (2014).
Q8 Please provide the page range in the references: Fredrickson (2000); Yukl and VanFleet (1991).
Q9 Please provide short caption for Table VI.
The relationship of leaders
humor and employees
work engagement mediated
by positive emotions
Moderating effect of leaderstransformational
leadership style
Ashita Goswami
Psychology Department, Salem State University, Salem, Massachusetts, USA
Prakash Nair
Department of Leadership and Organization Development,
Infosys Leadership Institute, Bangalore, India, and
Terry Beehr and Michael Grossenbacher
Psychology Department, Central Michigan University,
Mt Pleasant, Michigan, USA
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine affective events theory (AET) by testing the
mediating effect of employeespositive affect at work in the relationships of leadersuse of positive
humor with employeeswork engagement, job performance, and organizational citizenship behaviors
(OCBs); and the moderating effect of transformational leadership style on the relationship between
leadersuse of positive humor and subordinates positive affect at work.
Design/methodology/approach Data were obtained from 235 full-time employees working for a
large information technology and business consulting corporation. Moderated mediation (Hayes, 2013)
was performed to test the proposed model.
Findings Leaderspositive humor was related to creation of subordinatespositive emotions at work
and work engagement. Positive emotions at work did not mediate between leadershumor and
performance or OCBs. In addition, leadersuse of transformational leadership style made the
relationship between leaderspositive humor and employeespositive emotions at work stronger.
Research limitations/implications This study provides evidence of the positive relationship of
leaderspositive humor with employeespositive emotions at work and work engagement. Such
knowledge may help to inform the training workshops in humor employed by practitioners and
potentially create a more enjoyable and fun workplace, which can lead to greater employee engagement.
Originality/value AET helps explain effects of leader humor, but the effects of are complex. Leaders
use of even positive humor is most likely to have favorable effects mainly depending on their leadership
style (transformational) and if their humor successfully leads to positive emotions among employees.
Keywords Affective events theory, Transformational leadership, Work engagement,
Positive emotions at work, Positive humor, Work behaviours
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Leaders engage in behaviors at the workplace that are intended to influence their
subordinatesactions (Avolio et al., 2009; Hiller et al., 2011); and leadership is an
interpersonal activity that has been studied extensively in the workplace. The present
Leadership & Organization
Development Journal
Vol. 37 No. 8, 2016
pp. 1-19
© Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0143-7739
DOI 10.1108/LODJ-01-2015-0001
Received 3 January 2015
Revised 25 June 2015
Accepted 27 June 2015
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/0143-7739.htm
1
Leaders
transformational
leadership style
study examines one of the most commonly studied leadership behavioral styles not for
its direct effects on employee effectiveness behaviors but instead for a secondary
benefit that it may have. It may make the leaders use of humor more effective in
motivating employees by encouraging their engagement with their work.
Leadersuse of humor is an interpersonal activity, just as the larger construct of
leadership itself is. In the present study, we conceptualize leadershumor as a relatively
stable disposition or trait. When people perceive humor in another, they attribute the
trait of a good sense of humor to that person. We posit that humor in the leader
can make the subordinate experience positive emotions, which will result in a
more engaged employee. There are many types of humor; however, affiliative,
self-enhancing, aggressive, and self-defeating humor (Martin et al., 2003). Some of these are
more positive and some are more negative in character. The present study specifically
examines positive humor as a potentially favorable leader characteristic. Positive humor is
defined as a trait or individual difference linked to attempt to amuse others with a benign
and benevolent intent (Decker and Rotondo, 2001), and it can result in enjoyment in telling
jokes, increasing interpersonal cohesiveness, and reducing stress (Martin et al., 2003). If it
has these effects, then applied to leadership, positive humor can be an individual
difference in leaders that enhances their leadership effectiveness with subordinates in the
social setting of the workplace (Decker and Rotondo, 2001).
Little examination of humor has been undertaken in leadership research, but
positive humor used by leaders in interactions with their subordinates has been
gaining some attention recently (Mesmer-Magnus et al., 2012) because of its apparent
favorable impact on work outcomes (Hughes et al., 2008; Vecchio et al., 2009), such as
leadership effectiveness ratings (Decker and Rotondo, 2001), creativity
Q1
(Csikszentmihalyi, 1996), individual and group performance (Avolio et al., 1999),
group cohesion (Cooper, 2008; Martin and Lefcourt, 1983; Mesmer-Magnus et al., 2012),
and leader-subordinate
Q2 relations (Decker and Rotondo, 2001; Mesmer-Magnus et al.,
2012). Managers who use positive humor in day-to-day interaction are perceived
favorably by their employees (Messmer, 2006); and the younger workforce in the
present day places higher importance on a workplace culture; that is, tension free, fun,
and positive (Wiltham, 2007), suggesting that humor might be more important for
post-baby-boom workers. A few organizations such as Southwest Airlines and Sun
Microsystems pay heed to that demand by giving the potential recruits humor
assessments in the selection procedure (Barbour, 1998; Holmes and Marra, 2002;
Romero and Cruthirds, 2006; Romero and Pescosolido, 2008).
Although some previous studies have examined leadership style and humor
(Avolio et al., 1999; Vecchio et al., 2009), very few studies have examined mechanisms
that could potentially explain the relationship between leadershumor and outcomes
that could affect overall organizational functioning. This is important if employers are
to understand humor enough to implement practices based on its effects. The present
study attempts to associate leaders positive humor with important outcome
variables, subordinateswork engagement and their actions resulting in job
performance and good organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs). Engagement is a
motivational variable in that it includes high energy and focus, and it is important
because it is related to a variety of other meaningful individual outcomes such as
employee burnout (Crawford et al., 2010), organizational commitment, turnover intent,
and job satisfaction (Saks, 2006). Further, it has also been linked to organization-level
outcomes including productivity, profit, and employee turnover, demonstrating fiscal
benefits (Harter et al., 2002).
2
LODJ
37,8
Affective events theory (AET) helps to explain how leadershumor can result
in employee engagement. AET states that occurrences or events at work result in
prompt positive or negative affect in the employees, and the present study focuses on
positive emotion (affect) as the explanatory variable for effects of leadershumor
on subordinatesengagement. Positive affect is important in AET because it is
expected to influence important work attitudes and behaviors (Weiss and Cropanzano,
1996). In other words, emotions at work (positive affect) mediate the relationship
between work environment and work outcomes such as engagement in the present
study. Therefore, the present study tests is a mediation model wherein leaderspositive
humor may induce positive affect or emotions at work (that act as an intervening
variable), which in turn may positively influence work engagement, performance, and
OCBs. In addition, however, we propose that this mediation works better when the
leaders use transformational leadership behaviors (i.e. transformational leadership is a
moderator; see Figure 1).
2. Literature review and hypotheses development
2.1 Humor, affect at work and work engagement
Although research on humor has only recently caught on in the management and
leadership literature (Cheng and Wang, 2014; Cooper, 2005), research on humor had
been a topic for a few decades in the areas of social psychology, personality
psychology, and health research. For example, some of the earlier studies focused
Q3 on
stress buffering effects of positive humor (Lefcourt and Martin, 1986; Martin and
Dobbins, 1988; Martin and Lefcourt, 1983). An earlier study by Martin and Lefcourt
(1983) found people with low positive humor had a positive relationship between life
event stressors and mood disturbances. Some studies have found positive effect of
humor on their health outcomes (Celso et al., 2003; Fry, 1995). Other studies have
established positive associations between humor, personality, and individual
differences. For example, a study by Kuiper et al. (1995) explored the connections
between positive humor, cognitive appraisals and extraversion and emotionality,
finding positive associations between humor, positive affect and task motivation.
Gradually humor entered integrated into management literature as management
scholars and organizational psychologists further expanded the research by exploring
humor as leader trait or characteristic (Decker and Rotondo, 2001) relating to trust in
Positive Humor Positive Emotions at
Work
Employee Engagement
Performance
Organizational Citizenship
Behavior (OCBs)
Transformational
Leadership
Note: Moderated mediation with positive work experiences as a mediator and
transformational leadership as a moderator of the indirect path between humor and
engagement
Figure 1.
Summary of
hypotheses
3
Leaders
transformational
leadership style
leaders reported by subordinates (Hampes, 1999), creativity (Holmes, 2007), and
leadership effectiveness ratings (Priest and Swain, 2002). These earlier studies focused
on humor of the focal persona and outcomes of that person. The present study
examines cross-person effects instead, that is, the potential effects of one persons
humor (the leader) on another person (the subordinate or follower).
Positive humor can help leaders by shaping the work environment in ways that are
favorable for leadership (Decker and Rotondo, 2001). As stated previously, humor can
be considered a trait or an individual difference of the person that can expresses itself
in a social setting. Based on the wheel model of humor (Roberts and Wilbanks, 2012),
the expression of humor can start and perpetuate a cycle of positive emotions (Roberts
and Wilbanks, 2012); humorous events produced by a humorous person help to create
positive affect in members of the audience through a social contagion process. Based on
this model of humor, leadershumor in the workplace could enhance positive affect or
emotions experienced by employees. There may be something primal about humor,
because the presentation of humor has been associated with activation of dopaminergic
reward centers in the brain and, consequently, the creation of positive emotions (Goel
and Dolan, 2007). Two recent studies by Cheng and Wang (2014) found that humor
influenced persistence behavior through generating emotions. This further gives
support to the premise that the use of humor influences affect and emotions.
Additionally, we posit that subordinatespositive affect at work could be related to their
work engagement. Work engagement, a work attitude, and motivational variable, refers to
a positive state of mind that involves high levels of energy while working, and having a
high sense of enthusiasm and concentration at work (Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004). Positive
humor generally influences work engagement that involves enthusiasm, energy, and being
engrossed in work (Konovsky and Pugh, 1994; Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004; Schaufeli et al.,
2002). Leaderspositive humor has been found to be positively associated with work
attitudes such as subordinate job satisfaction and commitment (Burford, 1987; Decker,
1987). A recent study by Sullivan (2013) on a sample of 148 athletes found a positive
relationship between positive humor and athlete satisfaction with team task performance
and team integration. Work engagement can be considered an especially strong form of
employeesattitudinal reaction, a motivational variable that includes high energy and
absorption in ones tasks (Schaufeli et al., 2006; Webster et al., 2014). Performance of duties
and responsibilities are a part of job descriptions (Williams and Anderson, 1991). An earlier
study demonstrated that leaders humor had a positive influence on individual
performance (Avolio et al., 1999). OCBs are defined as discretionary behaviors that may
or may not be explicitly required or rewarded but contribute to organizational functioning
(Organ et al., 2006). In turn, OCBs have been shown to be positively related to productivity,
performance, efficiency, and job and customer satisfaction (Podsakoff et al., 2009).
A recent meta-analysis by Mesmer-Magnus et al. (2012) found that leaderspositive
humor was positively associated with subordinate job performance and satisfaction,
workgroup cohesion, and perceptions of leader performance, and was negatively
related to work withdrawal. The criteria in the present study, positive emotions, work
engagement, job performance, and OCBs are argued to be energetic positive
psychological and behavioral outcomes, which makes them especially likely to be
related to leaderspositive humor, the predictor in the present study:
H1a. Leaderspositive humor will be positively related to employeespositive
emotions at work.
H1b. Leaderspositive humor will be positively related to employeeswork engagement.
4
LODJ
37,8
H1c. Leaderspositive humor will be positively related to employeesjob performance.
H1d. Leaderspositive humor will be positively related to employeesOCBs.
Positive affect at work is a state generated at the work place and through events and
conditions encountered there, including leadership behavior (consistent with AET;
Weiss and Cropanzano, 1996). It involves emotions such as high energy, excitement,
enthusiasm, pleasure, satisfaction, feelings of being happy, and pride generated at the
job (Van Katwyk et al., 2000). The effect of positive emotions on health has been studied
extensively (Fredrickson, 2000; Fredrickson and Joiner, 2002; Ong et al., 2006), but the
work or job as a generator employees emotions is relatively understudied (Brief and
Weiss, 2002; Bono et al., 2007; Erez and Isen, 2002; Gopinath, 2011). AET proposes that
certain features of the workplace and the nature of the job cause an employee to
experience emotions that trigger job-related attitudes and behaviors. Thus the positive
emotions generated by leadershumor could influence work outcomes (such as work
engagement). A study of call center workers, for example, found that occurrence of
positive emotions at work partially mediated the relationship between some specific
situations at work (autonomy, welfare participation, supervisory support) and an
employee reaction, job satisfaction. Likewise, we propose that subordinatespositive
emotions will mediate the relationship between another feature of work (encountering a
leader with humor) and the stronger employee reaction of work engagement.
Additionally, we expect humor to indirectly influence performance and OCBs through
positive affect at work. A few recent studies have also suggested the influence of
positive affect on work behaviors (Bledow et al., 2013; Rich et al., 2010). Thus we
propose in addition to work engagement, positive affect at work will be a mediator for
the relationship of leaders humor with subordinates performance and OCBs:
H2a. The leaderspositive humor-employeeswork engagement relationship will be
mediated by positive work emotions at work.
H2b. The leaderspositive humor-employeesperformance relationship will be
mediated by positive work emotions at work.
H2c. The leaderspositive humor-employeesOCB relationship will be mediated by
positive work emotions at work.
2.2 Transformational leadership as a moderator
Humor can be associated with leadership (Avolio et al., 1999; Clouse and Spurgeon,
1995), and it should be able to both generate positive affect at work (Roberts and
Wilbanks, 2012) and influence subordinates to do a variety of beneficial behaviors
(Hogan et al., 1994) such as express ideas and reduce conflict (Lippitt, 1982; Martin et al.,
2003; Sliter et al., 2014). We also expect transformational behaviors that leaders display
would function to moderate the link between leadershumor and positive affect at
work. Transformational leadership is a personalized leadership style that involves
providing a vision and mission, creating high expectation, embracing values, and
showing care and concern for the subordinates (Bass, 1985; Podsakoff et al., 1990).
Leaders high on transformational leadership style create unique connections with their
followers, and they go beyond minimum leadership duties to satisfy the needs of their
followers (Avolio and Yammarino, 1990). Followers have trust, respect, and confidence
in high transformational leaders, because these leaders tend to take care of affective
and emotional needs of their followers (Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978).
5
Leaders
transformational
leadership style
In the current model, transformational leadership may act as a moderator to
facilitate positive affect at work. The combination of leaderspositive humor combined
with their transformational behaviors could trigger positive emotions at work (Weiss
Q4 and Cropanzano, 1996). Employees who perceive high transformational leaders trust
them to have the subordinates well-being in mind and are more free to enjoy and react
positively to the leadershumor; they would be less likely, for example, to feel the
humor is a criticism of them or making fun of them because of their trust in the leader.
Therefore the leadershumor would be viewed as positive and the emotional reaction
would more likely be positive, consistent with AET (Weiss and Cropanzano, 1996).
These positive emotions in turn will favorably affect work engagement as explained
earlier in relation to the first hypothesis. Therefore, a leader who uses positive humor,
and displays transformational behaviors in addition, should be able to create positive
emotions at work, which in turn will increase subordinateswork engagement
(Konovsky and Pugh, 1994) performance and OCBs (Williams and Anderson, 1991).
Based on this, the following is proposed:
H3a. Transformational Leadership will moderate the indirect relationship between
leaderspositive humor and work engagement through subordinatespositive
emotions at work.
H3b. Transformational Leadership will moderate the indirect relationship between
leaderspositive humor and performance through subordinatespositive
emotions at work.
H3c. Transformational Leadership will moderate the indirect relationship between
leaderspositive humor and OCB through subordinatespositive emotions at work.
The hypotheses are summarized by the illustration in Figure 1.
3. Method
3.1 Participants and procedure
Participants were full-time working employees from a global corporation
headquartered in India. Initially, 850 randomly selected employees were sent
invitations to participate in an online survey hosted by the companys website, with
100 employees finishing the survey (randomly chosen) being offered a free book as
incentive to participate. A sample of 366 employees participated in the online survey.
Of 366 employees, 131 participants did not complete at least 80 percent of the survey
and were deleted from the data set. Matching supervisors and subordinates resulted in
235 dyads. The sample was mostly male (65 percent), averaged 41.1 hours of work per
week, and was an average of 27.14 years old. The mean tenure in the organization was
3.30 years. The average age of their supervisors was 32.61 years, and they were mostly
male (60.3 percent).
3.2 Measures
3.2.1 Leaderspositive humor. Five items were used to assess positive humor from the
Positive Supervisor Humor Scale developed by Decker and Rotondo (2001; α¼0.81).
Employees rated items such as my supervisor has a good sense of humorwere rated
on a seven-point scale ranging from 1 strongly agree to 7 strongly disagree.
3.2.2 Transformational leadership. Participantssupervisorstransformational
leadership style (α¼0.87) was measured with the Transformational Leadership
6
LODJ
37,8
Questionnaire (Podsakoff et al., 1990). In all, 24 items addressing being a role model,
fostering group goals, high performance expectations, individual support, and
intellectual stimulation were formed the transformational leadership measure. They
were rated on a seven-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7
(strongly agree). Respondents reported the degree that they agreed with each statement
such as Provides a good model for me to follow.Higher scores indicated greater
transformational leadership behaviors.
3.2.3 Positive emotions at work. Positive emotions at work were assessed with the
Van Katwyk et al. (2000) ten-item Job-related Affective Well Being Scale ( JAWS; α¼0.91).
Responses were provided on seven-point frequency scale that ranged from neverto
extremely often.Subordinates indicated the degree to which they felt emotions
originating from their job. An example item was My job made me feel satisfied.
3.2.4 Employeeswork engagement. We measured subordinates work engagement
(α¼0.93) using a 17-item scale (Schaufeli et al., 2006). Items such as At work, I feel bursting
with energywere answered on a seven-point scale ranging from 5 (always) to 1 (never).
3.2.5 Performance. Job performance ratings were made by supervisors. A seven-
item scale was used to measure performance (William and Anderson, 1991). We utilized
five of the seven items, as the two reversed coded items lowered the internal
consistency reliability of the scale. With the two items deleted, αrose from 0.42 to 0.85.
An example item is Performs tasks that are expected of him/her,and responses were
indicated on a scale ranging from never(scored 1) to daily(scored 7).
3.2.6 OCB. OCB was assessed using Williams and Andersons (1991) 14-item scale.
Supervisors were asked to rate how often his or her subordinate (the participant)
engages in activities such as Helps others who have been absentand Conserves and
protects organizational propertyusing a seven-point scale ranging from neverto
daily.This scale exhibited a Cronbachsαof 0.71.
3.2.7 Control variables. Two control variables were utilized in the present study:
supervisors age and gender, as suggested in studies by Abel (1998), Decker and
Rotondo (2001), Dyck and Holtzman (2013), and Vitulli (2005).
4. Results
4.1 Measurement model testing
Prior to testing our model, we tested the variables for possible common method bias, as
the data were collected from a single source and at a single time point. We conducted
Harmons one-factor test using SPSS, as recommended by Podsakoff et al. (2012),
loading all the items on one factor and examining the amount of variance explained.
Only 15.21 percent of variance was explained by this factor. Usually common method
variance is considered problematic when one factor explains more than 50 percent of
the variance (Podsakoff et al., 2012). In addition, we note that the median correlation for
the four substantive variables in the study was 0.20. Common method variance was
unlikely to be a strong problem in the data.
Further, confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) were performed on all the subordinate-
reported variables using LISREL 8.54 ( Jöreskog and Sörbom, 2002) for all 56 items with
four factors: leaderspositive humor, transformational leadership style, positive emotions
at work, and work engagement. The proposed four-factor model demonstrated an
acceptable fit: χ
2
(1,478) ¼3,098.23, po0.001, χ
2
/df ¼2.09, CFI ¼0.96, IFI ¼0.96,
NFI ¼0.95, RMSEA ¼0.07, SRMR ¼0.06 (Hu and Bentler, 1999). In addition to the
four-factor model, we examined two competing models with three factors each. In one of
7
Leaders
transformational
leadership style
the three-factor competing models we combined the items of affect at work place and
employee work engagement into one factor while transformational leadership style and
leaderspositive humor were retained as distinct factors: χ
2
(1,481) ¼3,719.84, po0.001,
χ
2
/df ¼2.51, CFI ¼0.94, IFI ¼0.94, NFI ¼0.90, RMSEA ¼0.10, SRMR ¼0.08. The best
competing model was the second three-factor model, where items of transformational
leadership and positive humor were loaded onto one factor: χ
2
(1,481) ¼3,461.87,
po0.001, χ
2
/df ¼2.09, CFI ¼0.95, IFI ¼0.95, NFI ¼0.91, RMSEA ¼0.08, SRMR ¼0.07.
Aχ
2
difference test indicated that the a priori four-factor model produced significantly
better fit Δχ
2
(3) ¼363.64, po0.01. The CFAs therefore also suggested that common
method variance was not a serious problem, even among the self-reported (subordinate-
reported) variables. We thus tested our hypotheses with the four-factor model. Table I
reports descriptives, correlations, and αs of all the study variables.
4.2 Hypotheses testing
H1a, that leaderspositive humor would be positively related to employeespositive
affect at work was supported (Table II; β¼0.12, po0.01). Supporting H1b and H1c,we
found leadershumor was positively related to employeeswork engagement (Table II;
β¼0.15, po0.05) and performance (Table III; β¼0.12, po0.05), respectively.
However, leaders humor was not positively related to OCBs (Table III; β¼0.05,
pW0.05). Thus H1d was not supported.
H2, stated that employeespositive emotions at work would mediate the relationships of
leaderspositive humor with employeeswork engagement, performance and OCB as
outcomes, we used bootstrapping to examine the strength of the indirect effect (Hayes,
2013). We also controlled for two variables-leadersgender and age, while testing
mediation. Table II shows that, consistent with H2, there was a significant indirect effect
for employee emotions in the relationship between leaderspositive humor and employees
work engagement (point estimate ¼0.11; 95 percent bias-corrected bootstrap confidence
intervals excluded 0, 0.02, and 0.21). However, positive affect at work failed to mediate the
relationships of humor with performance and OCBs. The indirect effects of humor on
performance (Table III; point estimate ¼0.003) and OCB were extremely weak (Table IV;
point estimate ¼0.007). Thus H2b and H2c were not supported.
Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. Age 32.65 5.37
2. Gender 0.20**
3. Positive humor 4.71 1.19 0.02 0.19** (0.81)
4. Transformational
leadership 4.65 0.86 0.04 0.01 0.43** (0.87)
5. Positive emotions
at work 3.05 0.81 0.16* 0.07 0.19** 0.11 (0.91)
6. Employee work
engagement 5.09 1.35 0.06 0.02 0.21** 0.08 0.56** (0.93)
7. Performance 5.84 0.90 0.06 0.07 0.12*** 0.003 0.01 0.08 (0.85)
8. Organizational
citizenship
behavior 4.90 0.62 0.02 0.10 0.09 0.08 0.05 0.09 0.45** (0.71)
Notes: n¼235. Gender coded 0 ¼male, 1 ¼female. Values in the diagonal are αcoefficients. *p<0.05;
**p<0.01; ***po0.10
Table I.
Descriptive statistics
and correlations
among study
variables
8
LODJ
37,8
We tested our overall moderated mediation model (Figure 1) through the PROCESS
custom dialogue for testing moderated mediated models (Hayes, 2013). Again we
controlled for gender and age. H3a, that transformational leadership style would
moderate the link between leaderspositive humor and employeespositive emotions at
work such that linkage is stronger and more positive under conditions of high
transformational leadership style, was supported. The results (Table V) show that
transformational leadership style moderated ( β¼0.10, po0.05) this relationship.
Table VI presents the conditional indirect effects of leaderspositive humor on work
engagement, as mediated by positive emotions at work. For H3, the indirect effects of
Step 1: positive emotions at work Step 2: work engagement (WE)
βSE LLCI ULCI βSE LLCI ULCI
Positive humor (PH) 0.12** 0.04 0.04 0.21 0.15* 0.02 0.50 2.81
Positive emotions at work 0.90** 0.09 0.72 1.08
Age 0.02* 0.01 0.003 0.04 0.002 0.01 0.03 0.02
Gender 0.28 0.18 0.08 0.65 0.29 0.19 0.08 0.65
Direct effect of PH on WE 0.14 0.06 0.01 0.27
Indirect effect of PH on WE 0.11 0.04 0.02 0.21
Notes: n¼235. LLCI, lower level class interval; ULCI, upper level class interval. Gender coded
0¼male, 1 ¼female. In all, 95 percent level of confidence for all confidence intervals was used.
*po0.05; **po0.01
Table II.
Positive emotions at
work as a mediator
between positive
humor and work
engagement
Step 1: positive emotions at work Step 2: performance
βSE LLCI ULCI βSE LLCI ULCI
Positive humor (PH) 0.13** 0.05 0.04 0.21 0.12* 0.05 0.01 0.22
Positive emotions at work 0.03 0.08 0.17 0.12
Age 0.02* 0.009 0.003 0.04 0.006 0.01 0.03 0.02
Gender 0.02 0.14 0.28 0.24 0.24 0.15 0.07 0.54
Direct effect of PH on performance 0.12 0.05 0.01 0.23
Indirect effect of PH on performance 0.003 0.01 0.03 0.01
Notes: n¼235. LLCI, lower level class interval; ULCI, upper level class interval. Gender coded
0¼male, 1 ¼female. In all, 95 percent level of confidence for all confidence intervals was used.
*po0.05; **po0.01
Table III.
Positive emotions at
work as a mediator
between positive
humor and
supervisor-rated job
performance
Step 1: positive emotions at work Step 2: OCB
βSE LLCI ULCI βSE LLCI ULCI
Positive humor (PH) 0.13** 0.05 0.04 0.21 0.05 0.04 0.02 0.12
Positive emotions at work 0.06 0.05 0.16 0.04
Age 0.02* 0.009 0.003 0.04 0.003 0.008 0.01 0.02
Gender 0.02 0.13 0.28 0.24 0.08 0.10 0.07 0.12
Direct effect of PH on OCB 0.05 0.04 0.02 0.12
Indirect effect of PH on OCB 0.007 0.007 0.03 0.003
Notes: n¼235. LLCI, lower level class interval; ULCI, upper level class interval. Gender coded
0¼male, 1 ¼female. In all, 95 percent level of confidence for all confidence intervals was used.
*po0.05; **po0.01
Table IV.
Positive emotions at
work as a mediator
between positive
humor and
supervisor-rated
OCB
9
Leaders
transformational
leadership style
leaderspositive humor on work engagement through positive emotions at work was
positive but weaker and non-significant for lower (0.04; 95 percent CI: 0.09 to 0.18) and
stronger for higher (0.19; 95 percent CI: 0.06 to 0.36) transformational leadership style
(Figure 2). As we failed to find mediation for performance and OCB as outcomes, we did
not examine moderated mediation for them.
5. Discussion
Although the effect of positive emotions at work has been
Q5 examined before (Bono and
Ilies, 2006; Bono et al., 2007), those studies ignore emotions generated by the job, which
is an important issue for AET about employeesworkplace reactions. By examining
events of leaderspositive humor, workplace positive emotions, transformational
leadership, and employeeswork engagement, we were able to explain effects of
leaderspositive humor on employeeswork engagement. Support for the moderated
mediation model furthers our understanding why and under what conditions this
relationship occurs. Leaderspositive humor was correlated with positive emotions at
work, which in turn was related with employeeswork engagement; importantly
leadershumor is most likely to result in employeespositive emotions when the leader
also exhibits high transformational leadership style. Transformational leadership is
often theorized as a likely direct cause of favorable employee reactions (e.g. Bass and
Avolio, 1994), but it also can enhance the positive effects of other leadership variables,
in this case, when combined with leadershumor. We did not find support for mediation
Positive
emotions at
work SE LLCI ULCI
Work
engagement
(WE) SE LLCI ULCI
Positive humor (PH) 0.31 0.19 0.70 0.06 0.14* 0.06 0.02 0.27
Transformational
leadership style (TL) 0.39 0.20 0.79 0.01
Positive emotions at work 0.90** 0.09 0.72 1.08
PH ×TL 0.10* 0.04 0.01 0.18
Age 0.02* 0.01 0.001 0.04 0.002 0.01 0.03 0.02
Gender 0.001 0.13 0.25 0.25 0.28 0.18 0.08 0.64
R
2
0.08** 0.32**
F4.03** 28.19**
Notes: n¼235. LLCI, lower level class interval; ULCI, upper level class interval. Gender coded
0¼male, 1 ¼female. In all, 95 percent level of confidence for all confidence intervals was used.
**po0.01; *po0.05
Table V.
Transformational
leadership as a
moderator of the
relationship between
positive humor and
engagement
95% confidence interval
Transformational leadership Conditional indirect effect SE Lower limit Upper limit
Low
Q9 (3.79) 0.04 0.07 0.09 0.18
High (5.51) 0.19 0.07 0.06 0.36
Notes: n¼235. *po0.05; **po0.01. Moderated mediation for the relationship of leaderspositive
humor with work engagement via positive emotions at work across levels of transformational
leadership style
Table VI.
XXX
10
LODJ
37,8
for performance and OCB as outcomes with positive affect as a mediator. Probably
positive affect may not be an appropriate mediator for workplace behaviors. For humor
research, these results extend prior research to indicate that leadersuse of humor may
have important implications, as it had an indirect effect on employee engagement but
not on workplace behaviors such as performance and OCBs. If leadershumor results in
subordinatespositive emotions, the organization may benefit from the employees
efforts that are inherent in their work engagement. This interpretation lends support to
AET for work engagement, which states that workplace situations or features elicit
affective responses which in turn influence work outcomes (Weiss and Crapanzano,
1996). Previous studies by Avolio and others (1999) examined direct relationships
between transformational leadership and humor. However, we extend the research on
positive humor by examining transformational leadership as a moderator in moderated
mediational framework.
5.1 Contributions of the study
This study advances research on positive humor in several critical ways. One major
contribution of the study was evidence of AET in explaining relationships among
leadership variables (including humor) and employee engagement through effects on
affect or emotions. The moderated mediational model suggested that affective events
such as the leadersuse of humor could indeed lead to emotional reactions and
eventually to important work outcomes (employee engagement in this study).
In a seminal study by Avolio and others (1999) some inconsistent results were found.
Transformational leadership was associated with individual performance, but the
relationship was strongly positive in the low humor condition instead of the high
humor condition the study did not employ any controls, however (as noted by Decker
and Rotondo, 2001; Abel, 1998; Dyck and Holtzman, 2013; Vitulli, 2005). Thus, the
present study attempts to provide a unique test of leaderspositive humor and
transformational leadership with employee engagement. More research is needed to
determine the extent to which the differing results are due to differing use of controls,
different criterion variables, different samples, or some other factor.
Another contribution of present study is that we found support for AET with work
attitude as an outcome but not for work behaviors. Perhaps positive affect at work was
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4
4.5
5
Low Supervisor’s use of
Positive Humor
High Supervisor’s use of
Positive Humor
Positive Affect at Work
Low Supervisor’s Transformational Leadership Style
High Supervisor’s Transformational Leadership Style
Figure 2.
Interaction between
positive humor
and supervisor
transformational
leadership predicting
positive emotions
at work
11
Leaders
transformational
leadership style
not a potent enough or driving force to influence work behaviors. Research has found
positive relationships between employeespositive affectivity and behaviors such as
performance (Avey et al., 2011) and OCB ( Janssen et al., 2010).
A final contribution of the present study is the investigation of affect as generated at
work using an appropriate measure. Studies analyzing work-relevant affect (Bono et al.,
2007) have examined leadersbehaviors eliciting affective reactions (Brown and
Keeping, 2005; Liang and Chi, 2013; McColl-Kennedy and Anderson, 2002; Rubin et al.,
2005; Webster et al., 2014); however, none of these studies utilized an affect measure
that had work as a referent at the item level. The majority of the studies utilized the
Positive and Negative Affect Schedule developed by Watson et al. (1988) to assess
general affect with work mentioned at the instruction level. We present a better
measurement by using the JAWS scale, which was developed specifically for use in
work-related research, with the word workin every item level to offer us a better
understanding of affect at work place. Having an item-level referent discourages
careless responding in survey data (Meade and Craig, 2012).
5.2 Limitations
The present study has some limitations, however. It was conducted in India, and
differences may exist between cultures regarding humor at work. Further, as
different organizations have their own formal and informal rules for what is
appropriate, the fact that only one organization was sampled may limit the
generalizability of findings. The leadersexpression of humor could be an issue of
national or organizational culture, which is a recommended topic for future research.
Nevertheless, nothing in the model or results suggest that the setting (India) produced
unusual, unexpected, or unlikely effects.
Although the data were collected at single time point our analyses indicated that
common method variance is unlikely to be a serious problem in this study (Podsakoff
et al., 2012). We, however, do encourage future research to incorporate data at different
time points and from different sources for longitudinal analyses to infer causation.
Regarding the moderating effect in the present study, Siemsen et al. (2010) have shown
that such interaction effects cannot be artifacts of common method variance.
5.3 Implications and recommendations for future research
The present results suggest implications for future research and practice. Specifically,
because organizations can be expected to benefit from employee work engagement, the
appropriate use of positive humor by leaders is likely to help, but especially if they are
using a transformational leadership style as well. As stated earlier, employee work
engagement is related both to employee outcomes such as job satisfaction and
commitment (Saks, 2006) and to organizational outcomes such as productivity and
profit (Crawford et al., 2010). The favorable effects occur through leadershumor
eliciting positive emotions in employees. A humor training program, seminar, or
workshop might be feasible, but future research would need to evaluate the
effectiveness of such intervention attempts.
In addition to this, research could also investigate the joint perception of leader
humor rated by their subordinates and leaders themselves. Research utilizing
polynomial regression or congruence analysis (e.g. Edwards, 2002), would help
illuminate both the joint and specific relationships that each source of humor has with
important workplace outcomes. Specifically congruence between leadersexpression of
12
LODJ
37,8
humor and an employees perception of the expressed humor being related to outcomes,
could lead to interesting insights in humor research regarding the workplace. We
recommend continued investigation of positive emotions generated at the job or work
due to positive humor, based on AET.
References
Abel, M.H. (1998), Interaction of humor and gender in moderating relationships between stress and
outcomes,Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, Vol. 132 No. 3, pp. 267-276.
Avey, J.B., Reichard, R.J., Luthans, F. and Mhatre, K.H. (2011), Meta-analysis of the impact of
positive psychological capital on employee attitudes, behaviors, and performance,Human
Resource Development Quarterly, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 127-152.
Avolio., B.J. and Yammarino., F.J. (1990), Operationalizing charismatic leadership using a level of
analysis framework,Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 193-208.
Avolio, B.J., Howell, J.M. and Sosik, J.J. (1999), A funny thing happened on the way to the bottom
line: humor as a moderator of leadership style effects,Academy of Management Journal,
Vol. 42 No. 2, pp. 219-227.
Avolio, B.J., Walumbwa, F.O. and Weber, T.J. (2009), Leadership: current theories
Q6 , research, and
future directions,Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 60, pp. 421-449.
Barbour, G. (1998), Want to be a successful manager? Now thats a laughing matter,Public
Management, Vol. 80, pp. 6-9.
Bass, B.M. (1985), Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations, Free Press, New York, NY.
Bass, B.M. and Avolio, B.J. (Eds), (1994), Improving Organizational Effectiveness Through
Transformational Leadership, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Bledow, R., Rosing, K. and Frese, M. (2013), A dynamic perspective on affect and creativity,
Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 56, pp. 432-450.
Bono, J.E. and Ilies, R. (2006), Charisma, positive emotions and mood contagion,The Leadership
Quarterly, Vol. 17 No. 14, pp. 317-334.
Bono, J.E., Foldes, H.J., Vinson, G. and Muros, J.P. (2007), Workplace emotions: the role of
supervision and leadership,Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 92 No. 5, pp. 1357-1367.
Brief, A.P. and Weiss, H.M. (2002), Organizational behavior: affect in the workplace,Annual
Review of Psychology, Vol. 53 No. 1, pp. 279-307.
Brown, D.J. and Keeping, L.M. (2005), Elaborating the construct of transformational leadership:
the role of affect,The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 245-272.
Burford, C. (1987), Humor of principals and its impact on teachers and the school,Journal of
Educational Administration, Vol. 25, pp. 29-54.
Burns, J.M. (1978), Leadership, Harper & Row, New York, NY.
Celso, B.G., Ebener, D.J. and Burkhead, E.J. (2003), Humor coping, health status, and life
satisfaction among older adults residing in assisted living facilities,Aging & Mental
Health, Vol. 7 No. 6, pp. 438-445.
Cheng, D.C.M. and Wang, L. (2014), When joking at work
Q7 helps you work: the influence of humor
on persistence behavior,Academy of Management Proceedings, No. 1, p. 13110.
Clouse, R.W. and Spurgeon, K.L. (1995), Corporate analysis of humor,Psychology A Quarterly
Journal of Human Behavior, Vol. 32 Nos 3-4, pp. 1-24.
Cooper, C.D. (2005), Just joking around? Employee humor expression as an ingratiatory
behavior,Academy of Management Review, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 765-776.
13
Leaders
transformational
leadership style
Cooper, C.D. (2008), Elucidating the bonds of workplace humor: a relational process model,
Human Relations, Vol. 61 No. 8, pp. 1087-1115.
Crawford, E.R., LePine, J.A. and Rich, B.L. (2010), Linking job demands and resources to
employee engagement and burnout: a theoretical extension and meta-analytic test,Journal
of Applied Psychology, Vol. 95 No. 5, pp. 834-848.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996), Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention,
HarperCollins, New York, NY.
Decker, W.H. (1987), Managerial humor and subordinate satisfaction,Social Behavior and
Personality, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 225-232.
Decker, W.H. and Rotondo, D.M. (2001), Relationships among gender, type of humor, and
perceived leader effectiveness,Journal of Managerial Issues, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 450-465.
Dyck,K.T.andHoltzman,S.(2013),Understanding humor styles and well-being: the importance of
social relationships and gender,Personality and Individual Differences, Vol. 55 No. 1, pp. 53-58.
Edwards, J.R. (2002), Alternatives to difference scores: polynomial regression analysis and
response surface methodology, in Drasgow, F. and Schmitt, N. (Eds), Advances in
Measurement and Data Analysis, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, pp. 350-400.
Erez, A. and Isen, A.M. (2002), The influence of positive affect on the components of expectancy
motivation,Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 87 No. 6, pp. 1055-1067.
Fredrickson, B.L. (2000), Cultivating positive emotions to optimize health and well-being,
Prevention & Treatment, Vol. 3 No. 1a.
Fredrickson, B.L. and Joiner, T. (2002), Positive emotions trigger upward spirals toward
emotional well-being,Psychological Science, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 172-175.
Fry, P.S. (1995), Perfectionism, humor, and optimism as moderators of health outcomes and
determinants of coping styles of women executives,Genetic, Social, and General
Psychology Monographs, Vol. 121 No. 2, pp. 211-245.
Goel, V. and Dolan, R.J. (2007), Social regulation of affective experience of humor,Journal of
Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol. 19 No. 9, pp. 1574-1580.
Gopinath, R. (2011), Employeesemotions in workplace,Research Journal of Business
Management, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 1-15.
Hampes, W.P. (1999), The relationship between humor and trust,Humor-International Journal
of Humor Research, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 253-260.
Harter, J.K., Schmidt, F.L. and Hayes, T.L. (2002), Business-unit-level relationship between
employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: a meta-analysis,
Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 87 No. 2, pp. 268-279.
Hayes, A.F. (2013), Introduction to Mediation, Moderation, and Conditional Process Analysis:
A Regression-Based Approach, Guilford Press, New York, NY.
Hiller, N.J., DeChurch, L.A., Murase, T. and Doty, D. (2011), Searching for outcomes of leadership:
a 25-year review,Journal of Management, Vol. 37, pp. 1137-1177.
Hogan, R., Curphy, G.J. and Hogan, J. (1994), What we know about leadership: effectiveness and
personality,American Psychologist, Vol. 49 No. 6, pp. 493-504.
Holmes, J. (2007), Making humour work: creativity on the job,Applied Linguistics, Vol. 28 No. 4,
pp. 518-537.
Holmes, J. and Marra, M. (2002), Having a laugh at work: how humour contributes to workplace
culture,Journal of Pragmatics, Vol. 34 No. 12, pp. 1683-1710.
Hu, L.T. and Bentler, P.M. (1999), Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis:
conventional criteria versus new alternatives,Structural Equation Modeling: A
Multidisciplinary Journal, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 1-55.
14
LODJ
37,8
Hughes, L.W., Avey, J.B. and Norman, S.M. (2008), A study of supportive climate, trust,
engagement and organizational commitment,Journal of Business and Leadership:
Research, Practice and Teaching, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 51-59.
Janssen, O., Lam, C.K. and Huang, X. (2010), Emotional exhaustion and job performance: the
moderating roles of distributive justice and positive affect,Journal of Organizational
Behavior, Vol. 31 No. 6, pp. 787-809.
Jöreskog, K.G. and Sörbom, D. (2002), LISREL 8.80(Computer software), Scientific Software
International Inc., Lincolnwood, IL.
Konovsky, M.A. and Pugh, S.D. (1994), Citizenship behavior and social exchange,Academy of
Management Journal, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 656-669.
Kuiper, N.A., McKenzie, S.D. and Belanger, K.A. (1995), Cognitive appraisals and individual
differences in sense of humor: motivational and affective implications,Personality and
Individual Differences, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 359-372.
Lefcourt, H.M. and Martin, R.A. (1986), Humor and Life Stress: Antidote to Adversity, Springer,
New York, NY.
Liang, S.G. and Chi, S.C.S. (2013), Transformational leadership and follower task performance:
the role of susceptibility to positive emotions and follower positive emotions,Journal of
Business and Psychology, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 17-29.
Lippitt, G.L. (1982), Humor: a laugh a day keeps the incongruities at bay,Training and
Development Journal, Vol. 36, pp. 98-100.
McColl-Kennedy, J.R. and Anderson, R.D. (2002), Impact of leadership style and emotions on
subordinate performance,The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 545-559.
Martin,R.A.andLefcourt,H.M.(1983),Sense of humor as a moderator of the relation between
stressors and moods,Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,Vol.45No.6,
pp. 1313-1324.
Martin, R.A., Puhlik-Doris, P., Larsen, G., Gray, J. and Weir, K. (2003), Individual differences in
uses of humor and their relation to psychological well-being: development of the Humor
Styles Questionnaire,Journal of Research in Personality, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 48-75.
Meade, A.W. and Craig, S.B. (2012), Identifying careless responses in survey data,Psychological
Methods, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 437-455.
Mesmer-Magnus, J., Glew, D.J. and Vishwevaran, C. (2012), A meta-analysis of positive humor in
the work place,Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 155-190.
Messmer, M. (2006), Human Resources Kit for Dummies, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.
Ong, A.D., Bergeman, C.S., Bisconti, T.L. and Wallace, K.A. (2006), Psychological resilience,
positive emotions, and successful adaptation to stress in later life,Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, Vol. 91 No. 4, pp. 730-749.
Organ, D.W., Podsakoff, P.M. and MacKensie, S.B. (2006), Organizational Citizenship Behavior. Its
Nature, Antecedents, and Consequences, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Podsakoff, P.M., MacKenzie, S.B. and Podsakoff, N.P. (2012), Sources of method bias in social
science research and recommendations on how to control it,Annual Review of Psychology,
Vol. 63, pp. 539-569.
Podsakoff, P.M., MacKenzie, S.B., Moorman, R.H. and Fetter, R. (1990), Transformational leader
behaviors and their effects on followerstrust in leader, satisfaction, and organizational
citizenship behaviors,Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 107-142.
Podsakoff, N.P., Whiting, S.W., Podsakoff, P.M. and Blume, B.D. (2009), Individual- and
organizational-level consequences of organizational citizenship behaviors: a meta-
analysis,Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 94, pp. 122-141.
15
Leaders
transformational
leadership style
Rich, B.L., Lepine, J.A. and Crawford, E.R. (2010), Job engagement: antecedents and effects on job
performance,Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 53 No. 3, pp. 617-635.
Roberts, C. and Wilbanks, J.E. (2012), The wheel model of humor: humor events and affect in
organizations,Human Relations, Vol. 65, pp. 1071-1099.
Romero, E.J. and Cruthirds, K.W. (2006), The use of humor in the workplace,Academy of
Management Perspectives, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 58-69.
Romero, E.J. and Pescosolido, A. (2008), Humor and group effectiveness,Human Relations,Vol.61
No. 3, pp. 395-418.
Rubin, R.S., Munz, D.C. and Bommer, W.H. (2005), Leading from within: the effects of emotion
recognition and personality on transformational leadership behavior,Academy of
Management Journal, Vol. 48 No. 5, pp. 845-858.
Saks, A.M. (2006), Antecedents and consequences of employee engagement,Journal of
Managerial Psychology, Vol. 21 No. 7, pp. 600-619.
Schaufeli, W.B. and Bakker, A.B. (2004), Job demands, job resources and their relationship with
burnout and engagement: a multi-sample study,Journal of Organizational Behavior,
Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 293-315.
Schaufeli, W.B., Bakker, A.B. and Salanova, M. (2006), The measurement of work engagement
with a short questionnaire: a cross-national study,Educational and Psychological
Measurement, Vol. 66 No. 4, pp. 701-716.
Schaufeli, W.B., Salanova, M., Gonzalez-Roma, V. and Bakker, A.B. (2002), The measurement of
burnout and engagement: a confirmatory factor analytic approach,Journal of Happiness
Studies, Vol. 3, pp. 71-92.
Siemsen, E., Roth, A. and Oiveira, P. (2010), Common method bias in regression models with linear,
quadratic, and interaction effects,Organizational Research Methods, Vol. 13, pp. 456-476.
Sliter, M., Kale, A. and Yuan, Z. (2014), Is humor the best medicine? The buffering effect of
coping humor on traumatic stressors in firefighters,Journal of Organizational Behavior,
Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 257-272.
Sullivan, P. (2013), Humor styles as a predictor of satisfaction within sport teams,Humor,
Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 343-349.
Van Katwyk, P.T., Fox, S., Spector, P.E. and Kelloway, K. (2000), Using the job-related affective
well-being scale ( JAWS) to investigate affective responses to work stressors,Journal of
Occupational Health Psychology, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 219-230.
Vecchio, R.P., Justin, J.E. and Pearce, C.L. (2009), The influence of leader humor on relationships
between leader behavior and follower outcomes,Journal of Managerial Issues, Vol. 21
No. 2, pp. 171-194.
Vitulli, W.F. (2005), Humor and gender roles: does age make a difference?,Psychological Reports,
Vol. 97 No. 1, pp. 167-168.
Watson, D., Clark, L.A. and Tellegen, A. (1988), Development and validation of brief measures of
positive and negative affect: the PANAS scales,Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, Vol. 54 No. 6, pp. 1063-1070.
Webster, J.R., Adams, G.A. and Beehr, T.A. (2014), Core work evaluation: the viability of a higher-
order work attitude construct,Journal of Vocational Behavior, Vol. 85 No. 1, pp. 27-38.
Weiss, H.M. and Cropanzano, R. (1996), Affective events theory: a theoretical discussion of the
structure, causes and consequences of affective experiences at work, in Staw, B.M. and
Cummings, L.L. (Eds), Research in Organization Behavior, Vol. 18, JAI Press, Greenwich, CT,
pp. 1-74.
Wiltham, T. (2007), HR in brief, Credit Union Management, October, p. 36.
16
LODJ
37,8
Further reading
Freud, S. (1928), Humour,International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 9, pp. 1-6.
Foti, R.J. and Hauenstein, N. (2007), Pattern and variable approaches in leadership emergence
and effectiveness,Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 92 No. 2, pp. 347-355.
Martin, R.A. and Dobbin, J.P. (1989), Sense of humor, hassles, and immunoglobulin a: evidence
for a stress-moderating effect of humor,The International Journal of Psychiatry in
Medicine, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 93-105.
Wegge, J., Van Dick, R., Fisher, G.K., West, M. and Dawson, J.F. (2006), A test of basic
assumptions of affective events theory (AET) in call centre work,British Journal of
Management, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 237-254.
Yukl, G. and VanFleet, D.D. (1991), Theory and research
Q8 on leadership in organizations,in
Dunnette, M.D. and Hough, L.M. (Eds), Handbook of Industrial and Organizational
Psychology, Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto, CA.
About the authors
Dr Ashita Goswami is an Assistant Professor in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the
Salem State University. Dr Ashita Goswami received her PhD in Industrial Psychology from the
Central Michigan University. Her research interests lie in managerial cognition and equity
sensitivity. Dr Ashita Goswami is the corresponding author and can be can be contacted at:
goswa1a@cmich.edu
Dr Prakash Nair is a Group Leader, Leadership and Organization Development, Infosys
Leadership Institute. In his current role he drives the L&OD function responsible for senior leader
development. He earned his Doctorate Degree in HRD from the Texas A&M University and is
certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by the HR Certification Institute of
the Society for Human Resource Management. Specific to leadership training, he is certified in
Charismatic and Instrumental Leadership Influence, and Crucial Conversations. He holds
professional certificates in Leadership and in Business from the Mays School of Business, Texas
A&M University.
Dr Terry Beehr is a Director of the PhD Program in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at
the Central Michigan University. He earned his PhD from The University of Michigan and held
positions at the Institute for Social Research and the Illinois State University. In addition to
equity sensitivity, he does research on several organizational psychology topics.
Michael Grossenbacher is a Doctoral Candidate at the PhD Program in Industrial/
Organizational Psychology at the Central Michigan University. He received her Masters in
Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the Central Michigan University. He is currently
working in the R&D Department of Furst Person.
For instructions on how to order reprints of this article, please visit our website:
www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/licensing/reprints.htm
Or contact us for further details: permissions@emeraldinsight.com
17
Leaders
transformational
leadership style
... Their results imply that leaders' humor serves to reduce the social distance between leaders and their followers [24], which increases the quality of their relationship and, in turn, encourages followers to make extra efforts at work in ways that will benefit their leaders, colleagues, and organizations. In a similar vein, Goswami et al. [56] showed that a leader's positive humor increases the followers' organizational citizenship behavior. A recent meta-analysis by Kong et al. [11] also indicates that leader humor, especially leader humor expression, leads to increases in the followers' organizational citizenship behavior. ...
... Third, our model paid its attention explicitly to followers' change-oriented organizational citizenship behaviors. Thus, although the relationship between leader humor and the followers' organizational citizenship behaviors are well known [11,15,56], we do not know whether team commitment mediates the relationships. In addition, if so, we have no knowledge whether the mediated relationships vary by a leader's Machiavellianism either. ...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this study is to explore the mechanisms by which leader humor affects followers’ change-oriented organizational citizenship behavior. Specifically, we examine the mediation effect of team commitment in the leader humor–change-oriented organizational citizenship behavior link and whether it varied by leader Machiavellianism. Using multi-sourced data from the four battalions of the Republic of Korean Army, our findings show that team commitment mediated the positive relationship between leaders’ affiliative humor and followers’ change-oriented organizational citizenship behavior. Furthermore, the mediated relationship was stronger when leader Machiavellianism was lower. On the other hand, we found no support for the negative relationship between leaders’ aggressive humor and followers’ change-oriented organizational citizenship behavior. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
... When the external environment causes a change in an individual's emotional state, his job performance changes as well (Grobelna, 2019). Previous research has found that transformational leaders can influence subordinates' performance by affecting their positive emotions (Rowold and Rohmann, 2009;Reizer et al., 2019), and that leader emotions affect subordinates' creative tasks by influencing their positive emotions (Visser et al., 2013), and that leader's positive sense of humor can enhance subordinates' positive emotions at work and thus enhance their work engagement (Goswami et al., 2016). High-emotional leaders pay attention to the emotional needs of their subordinates and enhance their positive emotions through emotional contagion or other strategies to influence their work attitudes and behaviors (Kaplan et al., 2014;Thiel et al., 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Employees' emotions have an important effect on their job performance, thus leaders can influence subordinates' emotions through emotional contagion and emotional appeal and ultimately affect their job performance. Based on the affective events theory, this study examines the impact of emotional leadership on the subordinates' job performance, the mediating role of subordinates' positive emotions, and the moderating role of susceptibility to positive emotion. Hierarchical regression analysis of 362 valid questionnaires showed that: (1) emotional leadership has a significant positive effect on subordinates' job performance; (2) subordinates' positive emotion partially mediated the relationship between emotional leadership and subordinates' job performance; (3) subordinates' susceptibility to positive emotion positively moderated the relationship between emotional leadership and positive emotions, i.e., the higher the subordinates' susceptibility to positive emotion, the greater the effect of emotional leadership on their positive emotions. This study validates affective events theory, deepens the understanding of the influence mechanism and boundary conditions of emotional leadership on subordinates' job performance, and provides some references for employee performance management.
... Based on this elaboration, the authors take positive emotions as the pleasant response of employees when given a friendly atmosphere and leadership. Earlier research has discovered that positive emotions induced by a leader's behavior affect certain social behaviors including organizational citizenship (Goswami et al., 2016). Moreover, it's uncertain if leader-evoked positive emotion indirectly influences the interaction between altruistic leadership and bad behavior like KH. ...
Article
Full-text available
Studies related to knowledge hiding prevention are limited and need attention. Hence, the present study attempts to measure the direct impact of workplace friendship and altruistic leadership on preventing the knowledge hiding behavior; and also, in the presence of positive emotions. The study has also checked the mediating role of positive emotions in these relationships. The target population of the study is the employees working in the government sector (sample size of 496). The present study has employed quantitative research techniques for testing the hypotheses. Smart-PLS 3 software has been employed to run the partial least square structural equation modeling. Findings of the study have given major indications about the positive role of workplace friendship and altruistic leadership in preventing the hiding of knowledge among employees. It has also been revealed that positive emotions play a significant role in augmenting the relationship of workplace friendship and altruistic leadership with knowledge hiding behavior. This study adds a significant contribution to the body of knowledge by measuring the mediating role of positive emotions in decreasing the knowledge hiding behavior in the presence of workplace friendship and altruistic leadership.
... Accordingly, Mesmer-Magnus and Glew (2012) revealed that the benefits of managerial sense of humor in the advancement of employees' general well-being have long been observed. In furtherance, Goswami et al. (2016) allude that managers' humorous behavior can make their subordinates experience positive emotions which results to employee engagement. Thus, given credence to Wang, Huang and Chen (2011) earlier position that to succeed at all levels, managers must develop a good interactive behavior such as humor to facilitate cooperation and open communications with and among members which in the long run leads to goal attainment. ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper theoretically explored the concept of managerial humor in relation to the dangers and gains it brings into the organization as managers strive to manage the 21st century workforce toward sustainable organizational performance. In the cause of extant literature review, four managerial humorous behavior i.e. affliative, self-enhancement, aggressive and self-defeating were adopted as the most reliable indicators of humor practices in modern business management. Consequently, our findings revealed that managerial humorous behavior at the workplace is a phenomenon characterized by mixed effect. This is to say that each humorous disposition put up by managers leave the organization with a given consequence, which may be positive (gains) or negative (dangers) in nature. The study further discovered that managerial humor such as affiliative and self-enhancement is positive and beneficial to the organization through improved leader-member relations, while humorous behavior such as aggressive and self-defeating are negative and detrimental to group cohesiveness due to its demeaning and abusive character. Thus, we conclude that irrespective of the obvious dark side of managerial humor, when managers effectively adopt and apply the right humor in the right context, it create a platform for improved employee well-being and other organizational outcomes such engagement and commitment. Thus, we recommend as follows: i) that manager should always make use of positive humor as a means of communicating information that may be considered offensive to the employees. ii) that managers in order to keep their interpersonal relationships with followers on track should try as much as possible to avoid the use of negative humorous jokes.
Article
Full-text available
Research background: An organization needs workers who have been full of vigor and personal confidence; they are passionate and enthusiastic over their job and are entirely concerned about their work pursuits. In other words, an organization needs an engaged work force. Therefore, it is increasingly important for organizations to plan a way that enables workers in order to release their full capacity and being more engaged at work. Organizations nowadays require workers who are emotionally linked to their work and ready to perform everything they be able to foster their organizations' accomplishment. Purpose of the article: The current study, which draws on the Broaden-and-build theory and the job demands-resources model of work engagement, seeks to examine the relationship between growth mindset as a personal resource and work engagement, with the role of positive emotions as mediator. Methods: The current study employed partial least squares structural equation modeling to analyze the mediating role of positive emotions in mindsets and work engagement relationship. A cross-sectional survey was conducted with 356 academics from Algerian public universities who were selected using stratified random sampling. Findings & value added: The finding reveals that positive emotions mediate the relationship between growth mindset and work engagement. The current research provides substantial theoretical and managerial implications for academic staff to be engaged at work. The principal finding of this research is that academic staff with growth mindsets who experienced positive emotions are supposed to be highly engaged at workplace. As a result of these investigations, leaders may increase employee work engagement through paying attention to employees who have a growth mindset and positive emotions.
Article
Despite the ubiquitous observance of humor at workplace, there is paucity of scholarly attention in terms of the manner in which it affects the behaviour of employees. This study aims to explore the relationship between sense of humor and work efficiency by utilizing the benign violation theory (BVT) to posit that elaborative social information is attributed to in the humor of superiors across organizations. Additionally, the social information processing (SIP) theory was applied for forming the hypotheses. Despite the fact that superiors’ humor is suggested to have a positive correlation with superior-subordinate interchange and as a consequence, work efficiency, it could also point at the norm violation’s tolerability in a workplace environment. These insights, in turn, have a positive correlation with the deviance of subordinates. Furthermore, these indirect impacts are suggested to have been mediated by the violent humor of superiors. Data was sourced from three-wave field that were conducted in United Arab Emirates (UAE). The findings suggest that the humor can evince unexpected negative behavioral patterns.
Article
Purpose Limited research has been devoted to the entanglement of emotions between leaders and followers (i.e. emotional congruence) and how these emotions may be altering job satisfaction. Current research hints that a leader's emotional intelligence (EI) directly influences follower's satisfaction at work. Using the affective events theory (AET), emotional contagion theory (ECT) and the multi-level model of emotion and leadership, this research attempts to directly examine perceptions of the leader–follower relationship and the relationship's enhancement of follower job satisfaction. Design/methodology/approach This paper employs a survey among 427 USA-based workers to test a moderated model of the relationship between follower and leader EI and job satisfaction. The hypothesized relationships and moderation effects are examined using the SPSS macro PROCESS (Hayes, 2018). Common method variance (CMV) was analyzed and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) is presented. Findings Direct effects support the hypotheses that follower and leader EI contribute to the job satisfaction of followers. Moderation effects support the enhancing effect of EI congruence, such that the relationship between follower and leader EI and follower job satisfaction is stronger at higher levels of congruence. Originality/value These findings are significant in that the findings are among the first to examine leader and follower EI similarity and the similarity's effect on an employee's satisfaction at work. The findings highlight new opportunities for leadership and emotion researchers to better understand the leader–follower relationship.
Article
An organization requires employees that are full of energy and interpersonal trust; they are passionate and enthusiastic about their jobs and are completely focused on their professional objectives. In other words, an organization requires a higher level of work engagement among its employees. As a result, it is becoming increasingly crucial for organizations to design in a way that allows employees to unleash their full potential and become more engaged at work. Organizations also need employees that are emotionally invested in their jobs and willing to go above and beyond to help their organizations succeed. The present study examines the link between job demands, positive emotions, and work engagement using the Broaden-and-Build theory and the job demands-resources model of work engagement. A cross-sectional poll was performed with more than 364 academicians from Algerian public institutions who were chosen using stratified random sampling. The current paper confirms previous findings on the relationship between job demands, positive emotions, and work engagement. The latest study backs up prior research on the link between job demands, positive emotions, and work engagement. As a consequence of these findings, managers may be able to boost employees’ work engagement by focusing on people with lower job demands and more positive emotions.
Article
Though previous research has established a strong link between resilience and cognitive creativity, few studies have extended this association to social creativity. The underlying mechanisms of the influence of resilience on social creativity remain unknown. Therefore, the current study introduced sense of humor and positive mood to explore the influence of resilience on social creativity. We established a chain mediation model with data from 186 Chinese college students. The results showed that resilience was associated with social creativity. The sense of humor and positive mood were serial mediators in this relationship. The results have demonstrated that student participants with higher levels of resilience are more likely to use humor in their study, which may help them get a more positive mood than their counterparts with lower levels of resilience. Then, positive mood is conducive to students' performance of social creativity.
Article
Background:Motivation basically pushes the employees to perform better in their jobs. It enhances the performance by creating an urge to do well by aligning their personal goals with the organisational goals. Purpose: This paper tries to analyse the effect of motivation on the individual productivity level of the employees. The main objective of this paper is to identify the motivational factors having impact on the employees’ performance. Research Methodology:Since, research was in its preliminary stage so exploratory research design has been used in this study. Secondary data have been collected for this study and sources like journals, books, articles were referred. Findings:In this study, few variables have been found out pertaining to employee’s motivation in the Private Higher Education Institutions of West Bengal. It was also seen that these motivational factors were found to be impacting the individual productivity level of the employees. In this study, in order to maintain uniformity, only the motivational factors affecting the productivity of the teaching staff were taken into consideration as the motivational factors for the teaching staff as well as the non-teaching staff is largely different. Managerial Implications:Motivation is an essential component which is required amongst all the levels of employees in the organisation.By motivating employees, the management would be able to keep up the performance standards of their employeesand will also help in enhancing the overall productivity of the employees as well as the organisation.
Article
Full-text available
We theorize that engagement, conceptualized as the investment of an individual's complete self into a role, provides a more comprehensive explanation of relationships with performance than do well-known concepts that reflect narrower aspects of the individual's self. Results of a study of 245 firefighters and their supervisors supported our hypotheses that engagement mediates relationships between value congruence, perceived organizational support, and core self-evaluations, and two job performance dimensions: task performance and organizational citizenship behavior. Job involvement, job satisfaction, and intrinsic motivation were included as mediators but did not exceed engagement in explaining relationships among the antecedents and performance outcomes.
Article
Full-text available
Purpose – Employee engagement has become a hot topic in recent years among consulting firms and in the popular business press. However, employee engagement has rarely been studied in the academic literature and relatively little is known about its antecedents and consequences. The purpose of this study was to test a model of the antecedents and consequences of job and organization engagements based on social exchange theory. Design/methodology/approach – A survey was completed by 102 employees working in a variety of jobs and organizations. The average age was 34 and 60 percent were female. Participants had been in their current job for an average of four years, in their organization an average of five years, and had on average 12 years of work experience. The survey included measures of job and organization engagement as well as the antecedents and consequences of engagement. Findings – Results indicate that there is a meaningful difference between job and organization engagements and that perceived organizational support predicts both job and organization engagement; job characteristics predicts job engagement; and procedural justice predicts organization engagement. In addition, job and organization engagement mediated the relationships between the antecedents and job satisfaction, organizational commitment, intentions to quit, and organizational citizenship behavior. Originality/value – This is the first study to make a distinction between job and organization engagement and to measure a variety of antecedents and consequences of job and organization engagement. As a result, this study addresses concerns about that lack of academic research on employee engagement and speculation that it might just be the latest management fad.
Article
Recent research has suggested that humor styles of individuals may be a significant issue within group functioning (e.g., Grisaffe et al. 2003; Priest and Swain 2002). The current study focused on humor styles as a predictor of athletes' satisfaction of their experiences in team sports. One hundred and forty-eight team sport athletes completed modified versions of the Humor Styles Questionnaire (HSQ) and the Athlete Satisfaction Questionnaire (ASQ). The results of multiple linear regression models revealed that positive humor style was the sole significant predictor for athlete satisfaction with respect to both team task contributions and team integration. These results showed that humor styles may be a significant, if minor, constructive element within sport, as they are in other team contexts.
Article
Persistence is often the key to business and career success with many occupations requiring individuals to persist at tasks and maintain their efforts in order to achieve their goals. The ability to persist often separates those who eventually achieve success and those who do not. Research on the psychology of persistence suggests that persistence at a task requires self-control in order to resist temptations to abandon one’s efforts. Extending research in the area of self-control, this paper examines whether humor, a phenomenon rarely studied by management scholars but often prescribed by consultants and management gurus as a useful workplace tool, can be used to increase persistence behavior. Findings from two experimental studies (N = 74 and N = 50) show that humor can be used to increase persistence behavior and that individuals who possess a high level of self-enhancing humor style are more able to benefit from the effects of humor. More importantly, findings also show the discrete emotional mechanism by which humor affects persistence behavior. Implications for research, practice and future directions are discussed.