Winning battles with a joke


functions of humour
Humour in Organizations
Military Humour

How to Cite

Bhowmick, S., & R, V. (2023). Winning battles with a joke: a qualitative inquiry of humour in the Indian Army. The European Journal of Humour Research, 11(1), 27–45.


Humour in military organizations can be antithetical given the rigid hierarchy, high degrees of work formalization, and obedience to hierarchy. This paper explores how humour is initiated, propagated and maintained in the Indian Army. We conducted twelve in-depth interviews with retired army professionals and used Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis to capture the study's main findings. Three major themes emerged – organizational humour, leader humour, and team humour. We found humour is essential in combating stress, increasing social cohesion, facilitating newcomer assimilation, and promoting a positive work environment. We also found evidence of subversive humour used in forms of resistance to challenge the hierarchical structure subtly. We have provided a three-part schema of workplace humour which sheds interesting insights on workplace humour. Our findings will contribute to understanding how military humour helps to maneuver challenges of a stressful work situation.


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