University of Oulu

Jester’s role in organizational ideation : “you don’t have to be serious to be taken seriously”

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Author: Mikkola, Iina1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Management and International Business, Management
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
Pages: 149
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : I. Mikkola, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-11-26
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Oikarinen, Eeva-Liisa
Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, Pia
Reviewer: Oikarinen, Eeva-Liisa
Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, Pia


The objective of this study is to examine is there a clear meaning with managers using jestering to enhance organizational ideation. Moreover, the research focuses on jestering and aims to understand the phenomenon of jester as an organizational phenomenon. The research question: “What is jester role’s meaning in increasing ideation and creativity in organizations?” is answered via one sub-question, which examines how the role of a jester is reflected by others in organizational creativity. This study contributes to idea generation processes, humor and jester research, ideation research and creative organization research.

This study is a qualitative research employing in-depth interviews with abductive research approach, where the theoretical framework is a base for the empirical study, but it is modified during the research. The empirical data was gathered from six interviews, consisting of three managers and three specialists. The study uses in-depth interviews as primary source of data. Abductive logic was used to conduct scientific reasoning in this study.

Based on the findings of this research, jester role has remarkable role on ideation and in building organizational trust. When employees feel organizational trust and sense of agency, employees are more interested in bringing forth their ideas and participative in ideation. Jesters facilitate new ways of thinking and develop organizational culture towards more permissive attitude. Findings also indicate that jester role adopted by managers should be constructive and goal-oriented in order for bringing successful results in ideation. In the empirical findings it was shown that managers do not avoid jester role due to pressure or fear of decreasing career opportunities, but rather use the role to gain benefits on an organizational or group level. This research also found that managers in fact have a good comprehension on creativity, but they suffer from lack of time to prepare and invest in creativity and feel the pressure of organizational norms to use deviance and humor.

It seems that managers taking jester role should seek to build an atmosphere where everyone is committed in generating ideas. Jester role should be a shared role, so that it does not settle permanently on anyone’s shoulders alone. In ideation, managers should focus on preparing and guiding the ideation. Constructive and goal-oriented jester role requires managers to also have sensitivity and emotional intelligence, but also interest to making sure others are good to be. Once managers have gained trust and have built a relationship with subordinates, they are more aware how to express divergent opinions and what kind of humor works. The findings in this research suggest organizations to develop organizational culture to support ideation. In addition, the findings help managers to better understand the importance and value of using jester role in ideation. This research suggests leadership training where managers learn to use jester role consciously and learn to break from organizational boundaries while being aligned with organization’s objectives. Therefore, it provides insight for managers and organizations that wish to be a creative organization.

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Copyright information: © Iina Mikkola, 2019. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.