Yeji Won (2015). Humor in Business. Case Analysis of South Korean Humorous Advertisement. Opinnäytetyö, Oamk

This thesis aims to explore business opportunities through discovering factors that are needed to be known to understand Korean sense of humor, Hae-Hak, in practice on external communication with advertisement. By focusing on the research on specific examples of Korean advertisements that Hae-Hak is used, this paper will help you to understand Korean sense of humor. Under the HURMOS Project, to discover the utility of humor in business life of South Korea, research has been done.

Approaching to a different culture requires lots of background information. To fulfil enough understanding on Korean humor sense, environmental analysis and cultural history research has been done. This paper will provide the information of current environmental factors of Korea that will be appeared in the advertisements. Currently, Korea is suffering from low growth of economy as other countries in the world. Especially, youth unemployment rate is seriously high. The Statistical office of Korea has announced the rate as 11.1%, however, some youth groups like college students or part-time workers who are looking for permanent jobs. Actual percentage of unemployed youth including these groups was about 34%. Additionally, cultural factors of South Korea will be provided through this paper. It will explain to you why Koreans are always busy. In 1960s, Korea started to modernize in very short amount of time. Since then, economic growth was very fast and people had to work a lot and fast. In the course of modernization, there were conflicts between new Western culture and traditional culture. The research will reflex more information.

Regarding to the research, firstly, the overall current environment and situation in South Korea will be analysed. Secondary researches will be used for PEST analysis and research on South Korean history and culture. Based on the research, the case analysis of three successful humorous advertisements used with Hae-Hak will be done. Based on the case studies in South Korea, this thesis will show practical examples of how Korean humor is used as external communication tool with advertising.

Lisätietoja: Helena Ahola

Ahola H, Aro P & Vuorela T (2015) The Role of Humour in Business Innovation and Design Workshops

The objective of the paper is to discuss the theoretical framework needed for creating new business opportunities through new humour-based product & service development in the context of HURMOS, a research project funded by the Finnish funding agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes) during 2015-2017. The project attempts to increase the awareness of humour as a strategic tool and the competence of how to use humour and utilize it strategically in Finnish companies – with the aim of creating new business development practices and thus developing companies’ business opportunities, growth and internationalization. The main research questions of the paper are, firstly, how to create humour-based products and services and, secondly, how humour and playfulness can bring about a positive R&D atmosphere and thus enable effective service innovation workshops.

The literature review will cover the fields relevant for the HURMOS project: innovation management, service development and service design, the important principles of service design being user-centredness, co-creation, sequencing and a holistic view of the customer’s service journey. We will discuss relevant theoretical approaches for the different contexts of the business cases of the HURMOS project.

Through this theoretical study, we will gain a more holistic understanding of the multidisciplinary approach required for creating knowledge on the usability of humour in business development and innovation. Theoretical propositions will be suggested regarding 1. the role of humour in business models and their value propositions, 2. the importance of humour and playfulness within service innovation workshop facilitation, and 3. humourous design, in order to gain more understanding of the requirements of humour-based service innovation and the tools needed in order to facilitate such business innovation. An end result of the HURMOS project is to create a humour-capacity model that promotes business innovation in general and humourous design of products and services in particular.

Lisätietoja: Helena Ahola

Alatalo S & Poutiainen A (2015) Use of Humour in Multicultural Classroom.

The primary objective of the present paper is to discuss and analyse the use of humor in the context of multicultural classroom. This primarily theoretical discussion also attempts to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how humour can be employed in teaching and instruction thus contributing to student proficiency. Fundamentally, the intention is to determine dimensions of appropriate and benevolent humour in terms of learning. The questions to be considered in this paper are as follows: 1) what the humour is like in classroom, 2) why humour used in classroom is regarded funny/not funny, and, finally 3) which discernible cross-sectional features of humour seem to be applicable to groups of students with various ethnic backgrounds.

For this paper, humour in classroom is studied in the light of topic related literature. Humour as a complex form of communication is discussed here by reviewing numerous articles and academic publications on the topic. Furthermore, the two pivotal concepts of culture and humour are discussed in detail. This theoretical overview is also supplemented by a few in-depth interviews of business students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

The present paper focuses mainly on theoretical aspects of classroom humour, humour as a pedagogical tool and humour as an overarching phenomenon in cultural contexts.  Moreover, the conducted interviews provide some empirical perspectives on the topic. The qualitative strategies selected to study the interviews include both narrative and phenomenographic approaches to humour. Practical implementation of the study deals with compiling students' stories and opinions regarding manifestations of humour in multicultural classroom. These will, accordingly, be reflected upon the various theoretical considerations of humour.

This study provides an insight into the students' attitude to humour in classroom with an emphasis on cross-cultural aspects. Through this both theoretically and practically oriented study, our aim is to identify some of those features which could potentially contribute to the use of appropriate humour as derived from the student interviews and narratives. In conclusion, this study offers viewpoints on humorous features relevant to promoting an inspiring learning experience.

Lisätietoja: Sari Alatalo

Oikarinen E-L (2015) Online audience responses to humorous employer branding in online job ad

The purpose of the paper is to examine responses of online audience to humorous employer branding in online job advert context, which is unexplored but emerging branding practice especially among young startup companies without earlier reputation. A qualitative Nethnography study was conducted with qualitative content analysis of online forum comments initiated by humorous job advert by a start-up company. Findings showed that humorous employer branding in online job advert created different valence of comments among online audience: positive, negative, suspicious, indifferent and confused, which indicated also the scattered employer image, formed by online audience.

The comments of online audience were not only given by potential employees as the main target group of employer branding, but also potential business customer were also identified, which showed extended employer branding effects in online environment. Confused audience were able to give several different explanations to company’s humour usage tactics. Findings showed, that there is  a need for ‘honest’ and humorous content in job ads among job seekers, who are bored with the current recruitment practices by companies.  Although humor usage might be risk for constructing positive and consistent image of employer, based on highly positive responses also,  it is possible to suggest, that using humor in job advertisement can be seen a potential tool for employer branding for targeting and attracting especially those potential applicants who value humor at work.

Lisätietoja: Eeva-Liisa Oikarinen

Oikarinen E-L, Järvinen M & Ahola H (2015) Proposing a framework how humour can be utilized in strategic brand building in e-retailing

E-retail keeps growing compared to traditional retail and people purchase more and more goods online. Global competition among online stores has become increasingly more intense. To be competitive online; the buying environment has to provide entertainment value for the customer. To attract and retain online shoppers retailers are trying to provide such an atmosphere via their web site, which can affect shoppers’ image of the store, and create a positive experience for the customer. Therefore, online retailers can design their web sites and their social media communication (e.g. Youtube-videos) using fun and humour as appealing and pleasurable aspects. Using intended humour in a strategic way, humour is assumed to work as a positive advertising appeal and create positive brand image for the e-retailer. On the other hand, there are also limits to what extent humour can be applied in order to avoid distracting the customer’s attention when involved with online shopping. The purpose of the paper is to propose a framework for how humour can be utilized in strategic brand building in e-retailing. The research question of the paper is: How to use humour in strategic brand building in e-retailing contexts, and where are the limits and opportunities?

First, a theoretical model was constructed combining scientific literature on e-retailing, humour advertising and online branding to understand and identify different factors which affect the effective usage of humour in e-retailing.  To get more understanding of the brand building process in this context, an illustrative case study was conducted to construct a preliminary theoretical model. The chosen case was a Finnish army equipment retailer Varusteleka, which is well known for its humorous tactics in online brand communication. In order to illustrate specific aspects of the developed model, a small scale survey (52 respondents, representing potential customer target group of the e-retailer case) was conducted to describe reactions towards much viewed Youtube video, which utilized parody type of humour. As a result of this study, we identify factors which have a role in brand building in e-retailing and present a theoretical model on how humour can be utilized in online brand building in e-retailing. As a conclusion, we give several propositions for managers and academic researchers to better understand the overall potential of humour in online branding in e-retailing contexts, and to open up new research ideas for further studies. 

Lisätietoja: Eeva-Liisa Oikarinen

Sinisalo J & Oikarinen E-L (2015). Challenges and Opportunities Related to Using Humour in Internet Recruitment Ads. Case Study from the Architect Industry in Finland

A humour has been used throughout the times as a mean to create feelings, either positive or negative, both in business world and people’s private life. Despite of that, the humour is relatively new topic within marketing field and, especially, within recruitment ads.  The research related to humour in this field have focused mainly on advertising research or customer service. The previous research shows that humour has in most cases positive impact on businesses and, further, it is even suggested that the humour is a mean of gaining competitive advantage. While the use of humour in business contexts is considered a double-edged sword, the objective of this paper is to highlight the challenges and the opportunities of using humour in recruitment ads.

Through a case study from architect industry, this paper assesses how the use of humour in recruitment ads is perceived by the potential applicants. The case company is Finnish high profile architect firm. In this study, we describe the recruiting campaign of the case company in which the humour is used as a device by conducting one interview with the office manager and interpreting statistics provided by Facebook and Google Analytics. The recruiting campaign spread widely and drew positive attention among audience. Undoubtedly, it also increased audience’s awareness of the case company. Unfortunately, the audience was not equal to the target group and, thus, the architect firm could not find the suitable architect. Additionally, this study evaluates the campaign by interviewing 28 potential applicants for the architect firm. Based on the results of the campaign, this study gives suggestions for the use of humour as a device in recruitment ads.  

Lisätietoja: Jaakko Sinisalo

Tähtinen J & Ryan A-M (2015) The Role of Humor in Stories about Business Relationship Ending

Research on business relationship ending has so far focused on the reasons the relationships end, the factors that influence ending decisions, and the process through which the ending proceeds (see e.g. Tähtinen and Halinen 2002). The emotional side of ending is under-researched (exceptions are e.g. Ryan and Blois 2010) and, as far as the authors know, no studies have been conducted on the positive emotions and humor in ending processes.

This study is about the role of humor in stories about business relationships that have ended. Naturally, the overall tone of the boundary spanners’ (i.e. the company representatives’) stories is sad and negative, since the ending of a long-term business relationship is an emotional process for them. However, the stories are not empty of humor. Moreover, as we collected the stories from a group of MBA students, the occasion of sharing the stories was colored with humor. Hence, in this paper we focus on how humor is present both in the ending narratives, and in the situation the narratives are being told and shared with likeminded persons.

As a theoretical basis, we make use of studies on business relationships, endorsing a view that all human action and decision making is embedded in emotions (e.g. Verbeke and Bagozzi 2002), including studies on emotional labor (e.g. Ashforth et al. 2008), on display rules (e.g. Matsumoto et al. 2005), and studies on the role of humor as a coping mechanism in stressful situations (e.g. Abel 2002). The empirical data consist of written stories of past relationships and their ending, as well as authors’ observations of the situation where the stories were shared. Our preliminary thematic analysis shows how emotional labour, in this case the suppression of negative emotions and the display of neutral ones, is part of the stories on relationship ending and how humor may help to relieve the emotional labour, both at the time and in re-living the situation later on.

Lisätietoja: Jaana Tähtinen

Vuorela T et al. (2015) Humour as a Strategic Tool for Creating Innovative Business

This study aims to create a preliminary theoretical framework of how to use and utilize humour strategically in companies with the aim of creating and developing new practices and business opportunities, growth, and internationalization. Accordingly, the multidisciplinary approach of the present paper combines viewpoints of international business management, education, marketing and international business communication in a novel way. Despite the vast literature on humour in business research, earlier discussions have been constructed in different silos and the connections between different research fields have been scarce. Especially, a more comprehensive understanding of the strategic meaning of humour for innovating new business in general, as well as using humour in business innovation in individual companies, is needed, and our research fills this research gap. The paper discusses different strategic ways of humour usage in companies, as well as the potential, limits and risks of humour in corporate communications. Moreover, cultural differences regarding utilizing humour in business will be touched.

The potential of humour is explored as part of both internal and external corporate communication with foci such as corporate storytelling, corporate and employer branding, innovation communication and, at least indirectly, well-being at work. Especially the context of international digital media will be targeted in external communication. The most pertinent question is how humour can be applied as a strategic tool in business development both in facilitating creative R&D&I work environments and in involving humour in product and service innovation. Managing humour-related capability is explored through the search for potential ways of evaluating and measuring its efficiency in business. With its overarching aims, the paper introduces as a result a general framework that illustrates how individual constructs of humour could relate to each other, what kind of outcomes can emerge, and what kind of aspects or (sub-)dimensions they may comprise. This not only contributes to the current body of knowledge by drawing a much needed comprehensive view over the role of humour as a strategic tool, but also by providing a point of departure for further, more detailed research.

Lisätietoja: Taina Vuorela


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