Humour in Power-Differentiated Intergroup Wage Negotiation
This research examined the role of humour in power-differentiated wage bargaining conversations. We collected transcripts of wage bargaining between the local labour union and management negotiators of a multinational beverage company operating in the Philippines. Through conversation analysis, we determined how both parties utilised humor to challenge or maintain power relations even as both labour and management worked towards a wage bargaining agreement. Findings show that humour was used to maintain intergroup harmony, subvert authority and control the negotiation. Our findings may be useful for labour organisations and multinational corporations that operate in Southeast Asian countries with historically tumultuous labour relations such as the Philippines. Studies have shown how humour can play a significant role in various social interactions, such as business meetings (Rogerson-Revell, 2007), conversations between friends (Hay, 2000) and co-workers (Holmes, 2000), problem solving (Dunbar, Banas, Rodriguez, Liu, & Abra, 2012), conflict negotiations (Maemura & Horita, 2012) and price haggling (O’Quin & Aronoff, 1981). We note, however, that humour analysis rarely considers asymmetric features of social interactions occurring within the context of negotiation.