Grapevine Communication

Topics: Rumor, Organizational communication, Gossip Pages: 7 (2410 words) Published: August 26, 2012
Grapevine is an informal channel of business communication. It is called so because it stretches throughout the organization in all directions irrespective of the authority levels. Man as we know is a social animal. Despite existence of formal channels in an organization, the informal channels tend to develop when he interacts with other people in organization. It exists more at lower levels of organization. The dictionary gives us a definition for the grapevine which says it is "the informal transmission of information, gossip or rumour from person to person" .The grapevine is the informal and unsanctioned information network within every organization .The network helps employees make sense of the world around them and consequently provides a release from emotional stress .Keith Davis (one of the leading authors on the subject) discovered in his study that organizational Grapevine is an expression of healthy human motivation to communicate: "In fact, if employees are so uninterested in their work that they do not engage in shoptalk about it, they are probably maladjusted." Of all the things that the grapevine has been called, it is foremost a communications network. Since it is unstructured and not under complete control of management, it moves through the organization in every direction. It moves upwards, downward, and diagonally, within and without chains of command, between workers and managers, and even with and without a company. The formal network, made up of memos, reports, staff meetings, department meetings, conferences, company newsletters and official notices is highly documented and as such has very little chance for change. However, nearly all of the information within the grapevine is undocumented and is thereby open to change and interpretation as it moves through the network. It often travels faster than formal channels. The grapevine is very useful in supplementing formal channels. It provides people with an outlet for their imaginations and apprehensions as well. It also helps satisfy a natural desire to know what is really going on. Examples of Grapevine Conversations

Break conversations between co-workers and car pool dialogues •Suppose the profit amount of a company is known. Rumour is spread that this much profit is there and on that basis bonus is declared. •CEO may be in relation to the Production Manager. They may have friendly relations with each other. FACTORS CONTROLLING GRAPEVINE COMMUNICATION

Grapevines exist in all organizations in varying degrees. Gordon Allport describes two conditions as controlling activeness of the grapevine; importance of the subject to the speaker and listener, and the ambiguousness of the facts.He relates the two with the following formula:

R = IA

R is the intensity of the rumour
I is the importance of the rumour to the persons communicating, and A is the ambiguity of the facts associated with the rumour. This formula, according to Allport, means that the amount of rumour in circulation will vary with the importance of the subject to the individuals concerned times the ambiguity of the evidence pertaining to the topic at issue. The relation between importance and ambiguity is not additive but multiplicative, for if either importance or ambiguity is zero, there is no rumour .This formula is supported by Donald B. Simmons who states it slightly differently. He states "Rumours originate, grow, and spread along the grapevine in direct proportion to their importance to workers and the lack of news on a subject from official channels."

Flexibility: There is no formal control over grapevine, so it is more flexible than other forms of communication.

Rapid communication: It is faster than any form of communication.

No record: There is no evidence which can be documented for future reference

Distortion: The message which is passed...
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