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Humor Makes Them Want to Stay

The Relationship Between Humor in Leadership, Follower Cynicism, and Turnover Intentions

Published Onlinehttps://doi.org/10.1026/0932-4089/a000241

Abstract. We investigate the relationship between humor in leadership and turnover intentions and focus on benign and aggressive humor. We propose indirect relationships between both benign and aggressive humor and turnover intentions via cynicism toward the leader. We expect communication satisfaction to moderate these relationships. In our survey study, we found a negative relationship between benign humor and cynicism, while aggressive humor in leadership was positively related to cynicism. We found indirect effects of benign and aggressive humor on turnover intentions mediated via cynicism. The indirect effect of benign humor was moderated by communication satisfaction in a way that benign humor was more strongly related to cynicism and indirectly to turnover intentions if communication satisfaction was low. The indirect effect of aggressive humor on turnover intentions was not moderated by communication satisfaction. Our study underlines the necessity to distinguish between benign and aggressive humor and to further explore its boundary conditions.


Humor stärkt den Wunsch, zu bleiben. Der Zusammenhang zwischen Humor in der Führung, Zynismus und Kündigungsabsicht der Mitarbeiter

Zusammenfassung. Die vorliegende Studie untersucht den Zusammenhang zwischen wohlwollendem und aggressivem Humor in der Führung und der Kündigungsabsicht der Mitarbeiter. Wir leiten ein Forschungsmodell ab, in dem sowohl wohlwollender als auch aggressiver Humor zunächst in negativem bzw. positivem Zusammenhang mit Zynismus stehen, der dann wiederum in positivem Zusammenhang mit der Kündigungsabsicht steht. Diese indirekten Zusammenhänge werden durch die Kommunikationszufriedenheit moderiert, wobei wir von stärkeren indirekten Effekten für weniger zufriedene Mitarbeiter ausgehen. In einer Fragebogenstudie fanden wir die vermuteten Zusammenhänge zwischen wohlwollendem bzw. aggressivem Humor und Zynismus. Weiterhin konnten wir die postulierten indirekten Effekte von Humor auf die Kündigungsabsicht zeigen. Die vermutete moderierte Mediation durch Kommunikationszufriedenheit konnte nur für wohlwollenden, nicht jedoch für aggressiven Humor gezeigt werden. Unsere Studie unterstreicht die Notwendigkeit der Unterscheidung von wohlwollendem und aggressivem Humor sowie der Einbeziehung potenzieller Moderatoren in der empirischen Forschung zum Humor in der Führung.

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