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2019 International Association for Conflict Management Conference

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Leaders’ Humor and Subordinate Perceptions in Chinese Context: Investigating the Pivotal Role of Relationship Harmony

Keywords: Humor, warmth, competence, relationship harmony, leadership, Chinese culture

Abstract: This paper examines the relationship of Chinese leaders’ humorous behaviors with subordinates’ perceptions of leadership. We first conducted a qualitative study (Study 1) in Taiwan to explore participants’ reactions to leaders’ humor. In Study 2, we collected survey samples from Taiwan and the United States. Our data found support for the association between leaders’ humor and perceptions of leaders’ warmth and competence for Taiwanese respondents and partially for American ones. In Study 3, we collected a two-wave sample from Taiwan with one month interval. We found mediating effects of relationship harmony in addition to that of quality of leader-member exchange (LMX) in the relationship between leaders’ humor and subordiante perceptions of leaders’ warmth and competence. Our results challenge arguments from the Confucian philosophy that act of humor is a sign of intellectual shallowness and social informality, instead, it can bring harmonious relationships, resulting in subordinates’ perceived warmth and competence.

Shu-Cheng Steve Chi, Department of Business Administration, National Taiwan University

Inju Yang, EDC Paris Business School

Chih-Chieh Chu, Department of Business Administration, National Taiwan University

Hsi-Fang Lai, Graduate School of Resources Management and Decision Science, National Defense University

Raymond A. Friedman, Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University


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