Dr Barbara Anne Plester

PhD Management, MBS (First Class Honours), BBS, DipT


Barbara Plester's qualifications include a PhD in Management; a Master of Business Studies (MBS) (First Class Honours); a Bachelor of Business Studies (BBS); and a Diploma of Teaching. Barbara joined the University of Auckland in 2007 and is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management and International Business (MIB). She completed her PhD in management at Massey University Albany campus in 2008 and was awarded the Top Achievers Doctoral Scholarship (TAD) by the Tertiary Education Commission, (Bright Futures Scheme 2004) . In the past Barbara has worked in Publishing and Information Technology companies and has practical experience in HRM and Sales and Marketing.  Barbara is a member of the Organisation Studies group in MIB and teaches papers on communication, organisational behaviour and HRM. She is an enthusiastic teacher and received a "Teaching Excellence Award" from the Business School in 2012 as well as a further "Teaching Excellence Award" from the University of Auckland in 2013. Currently she Chairs the Undergraduate Committtee in MIB. Barbara is a social science researcher with particular interest in the social aspects of organisational behaviour and organisational culture associated with humour, fun, small talk and sharing food and drink. Organisational enactments include social, sociable, fun, and even seemingly frivolous activities that are not always directly associated with work tasks. However, these social activities are part of the overall workplace context and can have an impact on well-being, engagement, collegial relationships, and ultimately performance particularly in regards to people’s perceptions of their own performance and that of their colleagues. The social minutiae of organisational life are on-going, cumulative, constantly changing and as such; reflect a rich, contextual picture of organisations. This contextual framework underpins organisational structure, values, and ways of operating. Therefore studying the everyday small interactions such as humour, fun, events, food (and drink) rituals offer a rich and deep understanding of both human behaviour and organisational life and there are  implications for organisational objectives of performance, growth and development. Barbara's research explores: Workplace humour, fun, flow and engagement; transgression; virtual team communication; food and drink rituals in organisations. She is a member of the: Academy of Management (AoM)  Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ); International Society of Humor Scholars (ISHS); Australian-New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM); European Group of Organization Studies (EGOS); and Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism (SCOS).

Research | Current

  • Workplace humour: Banter; Jokers; Boundaries for humour at work; Dark side of humour; Humour as Transgression; Humour and the Uncanny; Healthy humour; Ethnographic research of humour; Complexity of workplace humour
  • Fun: A new integrated model for workplace fun; Fun and engagement, Promoting fun at work.
  • Food and drink: Organisational food rituals, Emerging issues on organisational food and drink
  • Organisational misbehaviour
  • Virtual teams: Educational aspects of virtual teams and connectivity
  • Emotions of connectivity

Teaching | Current

MGMT 723: Advanced Professional Development (2016)

MGMT 211: Understanding Organisations (2010-2016)

MGMT 725: Organisation communication (2010-2016)

MGMT 723: Advanced professional development (2016)

MGMT 304: Managing people (2013)

MGMT 712: Advanced Human Resource Management (2013)

BUS 291: Communication Proesses (2008-2014)

MGMT 319: Individuals, behaviour and organisations (2009-2011)

Postgraduate supervision

PhD supervisions: Andy Ang: Core Self-Evaluations as a moderator of the stressor-strain-satisfaction relationships (completed) Heesun Kim: Cross-cultural humour (current); Subash Shrestha: Leadership and humour (current); James Costello: Organizational e-learning (current); Lena Obushenkova: Smartphone influence on workplace relationships (current);  Alieh Haghighi: International perspectives on employees' attitudes and well-being (current). Masters supervisions: Amy Bonham: The hidden nature of envy: Antecedents and consequences of envy in the workplace Elena Obushenkova: Psychological contract and technology Joanne Winquist: Licensed to laugh: Composition and importance of fun at work Mia Harpreet Kuar Bassi : Staffing in cyberspace: The nature of organizations and employment in the age of Online Social Networking. Shayal Chandran: The boundaries of workplace humour: Gender and relationship influences. Joshua Burtenshaw: Demystifying the coach as leader :An exploratory study of high school rugby coaches. Heesun Kim: Networking for social support and workplace friendship on Social Networking Sites.


  • Tertiary Education Commission: Top Achievers Doctoral Scholarship (TAD)   (Bright Futures Scheme 2004).
  • University of Auckland Business School: Teaching Excellence Award for Early Career Excellence in Teaching 2012 .
  • University of Auckland : Distinguised Teaching Award for Early Career Excellence in Teaching 2013 .
  • Massey Scholar 2002
  • Massey Masters Scholar 2004
  • Massey Doctoral Scholar 2008


Chair MIB Underggraduate Committee; Member Boardd of Undergraduate Studies (BUGS); Member UABS Learning & Teaching Committee;  Peer Review Team member.

Formerly Director of MCom programme (MIB) Graduate Advisor.  Postgraduate Committee (MIB). Peer Review Team member.

Areas of expertise

  • Organisational behaviour
  • Workplace humour and fun
  • Organisational culture
  • Organisational communication
  • Human Resource Management (HRM)
  • Workplace food and drink rituals
  • Online Social Networking: Workplace effects

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Member of:

  • Editorial Review Board, Employee Relations
  • Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ)
  • International Society of Humor Scholars (ISHS)
  • Australian-New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM)
  • European Group of Organization Studies (EGOS)
  • Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism (SCOS).


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Kim, H. S., & Plester, B. A. (2019). Harmony and Distress: Humor, Culture, and Psychological Well-Being in South Korean Organizations. FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY, 910.3389/fpsyg.2018.02643
  • Schnurr, S., & Plester, B. (2017). Functionalist discourse analysis of humor. In S. Attardo (Ed.) The Routledge handbook of language and humor (pp. 309-321). New York: Routledge. 10.4324/9781315731162
  • Plester, B. (2015). 'Take it like a man!': Performing hegemonic masculinity through organizational humour. ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization, 15 (3), 537-559.
  • Plester, B. (2015). The complexity of workplace humour: Laughter, jokers and the dark side of humour. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. Pages: 179. 10.1007/978-3-319-24669-7
  • Sayers, J., & Plester, B. (2015). Exploring the gendered dimensions of rough inter-play in an IT firm. Paper presented at 10th Organizational Studies Workshop: Organizational Creativity, Play and Entrepreneurship, Chania, Crete, Greece. 21 May - 23 May 2015.
  • Kim, H., & Plester, B. (2014). Ironing out the differences: The role of humour in workplace relationships. Paper presented at Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference (ANZAM 2014), Sydney, Australia. 3 December - 5 December 2014. Reshaping Management for Impact.
  • Plester, B. A. (2014). The uncanny knack of humour to reveal ‘what lies beneath’. Paper presented at European Group Organization Studies Conference : Reimagining, Rethinking, Reshaping:Organizational Scholarship in Unsettled Times, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 3 July - 5 July 2014. Related URL.
  • Sayers, J., & Plester, B. A. (2014). Rough play: On researching humour whilst being frightened. Paper presented at Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism, Utrecht, Netherlands. 7 July - 10 July 2014.


Contact details

Office hours

By appointment

Primary office location

Level 4, Room 455
New Zealand

Web links