Personal need for structure as a boundary condition for humor in leadership

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Recent research has established a positive relationship between humor in leadership and organizational behavior variables. However, neither the mechanisms nor the boundary conditions of the positive effects of humor in leadership are completely understood. In this study, we contribute to these questions by investigating the relationship between humor in leadership and follower commitment and burnout in more detail. We propose that these relationships unfold via a relational process and specified this relational process in terms of leader–member exchange. Moreover, we assume that these relationships depend on followers' personal need for structure. We tested the hypothesized moderated-mediation model in a two-wave survey study with 142 employees. Our results support the proposed model. We found the predicted indirect effect of humor on commitment and disengagement to be stronger for followers low in need for structure. However, we did not find the proposed effects for emotional exhaustion. We discuss implications for leadership theory, humor theory, and for leadership training and practice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)87-107
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2017
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Business psychology - humor, leadership, moderated mediation, personal need for structure, relational mechanism