Gossip in the Workplace

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Capstone Assignment 
 
 
 
 Gossip in the Workplace

Lotta Weigeldt

Table of Contents
1. Introduction...........................................................................................................p. 3 2. Literature Review on Gossip.................................................................................p. 3 2.1 Definition of Gossip................................................................................p. 4 2.2 Communication Models…......................................................................p. 4 2.3 Gossip and Power....................................................................................p. 5 2.4 Gossip and Control……………………………………………………..p. 7 3. Literature Review on Learning in Organizations..................................................p. 9 3.1 Literature Review on Learning in Organizations....................................p. 9 3.2 Informal Learning and Story-telling........................................................p. 9 4. Gossip as Learning Tool in Organizations..........................................................p. 10 8. Conclusion...........................................................................................................p. 12 9. References...........................................................................................................p. 13

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1. Introduction Gossip is a way of informal communication which can be found in every situation of our lives. Conscious or subconsciously, active or passive, every individual is involved in gossiping. We read gossip in newspapers and magazines, watch news fed by gossip, engage in gossip in our private as well as in our professional life. Gossip affects the way our human society works. At work, it can be a very influential factor of the working environment. Nevertheless, little has been researched and written about this topic. Infinite amounts of researches have been conducted in order to understand organizations, how processes and cultures of organizations evolve and change. Especially the informal part of organizations, the rules and relationships within firms, distinct organizations from each other and make them unique. Organizational culture is difficult to be managed since it is generated in an unstructured, informal way. Not easily visible, these evolved norms and values, relationships, and rules and regulations about behavior in the organization have a critical function: they foster knowledge development and learning of organizational members. Learning in organizations becomes more and more crucial due to today’s fast changing environment and should be a focus of research. This paper is going to analyze literature about gossip and learning in the workplace, followed by an elaboration on the combination of both topics. Two lines of thoughts show how the topics can be linked. Suggestions for further studies and research topics will presented. Concluding remarks will resume the main points of the paper.

2. Literature Review on Gossip The literature concerning gossip in organizations is limited. Nevertheless, some researches can be used to demonstrate the main features of gossip. Definitions of gossip vary but several constant elements allow to frame the topic. A distinction of two general communication models will further help to analyze the subject and classify gossip. The relation of gossip and power as well as gossip and control will be dealt with extensively in order to use the background information to relate gossip later in the paper to learning in organizations.

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2.1 Definition of Gossip In order to cope with the topic gossip, first a definition should clarify what gossip in fact is. Noon and Delbridge (1993, p.25) define gossip as “the process of informally communicating value-laden information about members of a social setting“. The definition can be narrowed down to include only communication about members which are not present (Kurland and Pelled, 1999), but...
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