Experiencing Data Gathering Processes in Rumour and Gossip Study

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EXPERIENCING DATA GATHERING PROCESSES
IN RUMOUR AND GOSSIP STUDY

By

Mohd Mursyiddin Abdul Manaf
iddin@salam.uitm.edu.my

Mariah Muda, PhD
maria683@salam.uitm.edu.my

Wan Hartini Wan Zainodin
wanhartini@salam.uitm.edu.my

Hamimda Agil
hamimda@salam.uitm.edu.my

Faculty of Communication and Media Studies
Universiti Teknologi MARA
40450 Shah Alam, Selangor
MALAYSIA

Abstract

The process of data collection for the study of conception and rumour mongering in organisations may look simple but truthfully it is not an easy task. It requires a high degree of patience, as not all informants will admit that they are consciously or subconsciously involved in rumour conception and mongering. The issue may sound petty, but it does occur in our daily working lives at our organisation, regardless of the time, place, and involves employees no matter what are their hierarchical positions in the organisation. Therefore, in order to obtain their testimony, the probing questions should not be honest and direct, but shall be directed towards what they normally do but focuses on what they have experienced. From that, researchers will be able to understand the extent of the informants’ involvement towards the rumour mongering activities. Furthermore, the interviewer should also be cunning enough in asking investigative questions to the informants as such questions may uncover important and useful data in achieving the research objectives and problems. Thus, this conference paper discusses the experience of the authors in the process of data collection which includes i) The Uniqueness of Gossip and Rumour Study, ii) Why Phenomenological Approach?, iii) Informants’ Selection Procedure, iv) Researcher as Instrument, v) Issues in Conducting In-Depth Interviews, vi) Strategies in Achieving Internal and External Validity, vii) Strategies to Achieve Reliability, and viii) Recommendation to Future Researchers.

The Uniqueness of Gossips and Rumours Study

The study of rumour’s conception and mongering in organisation is indeed a unique field of study. Through the lenses of society, rumour mongering normally could be considered as something petty and nonsensical even though the effects of these activities does involve the members of the organisation without considering their organisational statuses. Whether one either admit or denies their involvement in rumour conception and mongering, every individual should have gone through the experience whether they like it or not. In addition, this activity also could create such organisational culture as explained by West & Turner (2010, p. 277) “people are like spiders who are suspended in webs that they created at work. An organization’s culture is composed of shared symbols, each of which has a unique meaning. Organizational stories, rituals, and rites of passage are examples of culture of an organization”.

Despite of its connotation being considered as frivolous and sensational, it however could lead to great impact towards organisations and individual sociologically and psychologically. In terms of corporation perspective, rumours could lead to bad publicity of the organisation and in some cases it may also imply a loss of millions of dollars. On the other hand, employees who had been a victim of rumour mongering could suffer from stress and depression that usually affect their work productivity as well as social life. The importance of this has long been recognised since early 1940’s by Allport & Postman (1947) in the West.

Sadly, none of such issues were given any emphasis by social researchers in Malaysia. Thus, it is vital for this study to be considered as a catalyst in providing an overview of another type of informal communication that lubricates the grapevine communication channel that feeds the rumours and gossiping activities in organisations. Hence making this study of unique nature as it is quite difficult to determine the rumour...
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