ABSTRACT

In this study I ask a simple question: Why do organizational members display cartoons on their office doors? In seeking the answer, I explore how organizational members manipulate artifacts within their organization. Schein (1990) defines artifacts as "everything from the physical layout, the dress code, the manner in which people address each other, the smell and feel of the place, its emotional intensity, and other phenomena, to the more permanent archival manifestations such as company records, products, statements of philosophy, and annual reports" (p. 111). Cartoons displayed on office doors fit the description. My research site was a medium-size private university in the southern United Sates. I recorded and interpreted the cartoons displayed on doors of faculty members in various departments of the university in order to make sense of how artifacts are implicated in constructing the culture of an organization (cf. M. O. Jones, 1996). Naturally, I also examine the role of humor-albeit the specific form of visual humor conveyed by cartoons-within the organization.