Grapevine - Communications

Topics: Internal communications, Gossip, Organization Pages: 19 (4284 words) Published: October 2, 2010
Business Communications

The Importance of ‘The Grapevine’ in Internal Business Communications.

Table of Contents

Table of Contentsi
Terms of Referenceiii
1Grapevine in Business1
1.1Internal Business Communications1
1.1.2Formal versus Informal1
2Structure of a Grapevine2
2.2Informational Chains2
2.2.1The Single Strand Chain2
2.2.2The Gossip Chain3
2.2.3The Probability Chain3
2.2.4The Cluster Chain3
2.3The Transmission Forms of Rumours3
2.3.1Pipe Dreams or Wish Fulfilment3
2.3.2The Bogie Rumour4
2.3.3Wedge Drivers4
2.4Types of Participants4
2.4.1Bridger’s or Key Communicators4
2.4.2Baggers or Dead-enders4
2.4.3Beaners or Isolates4
3Advantages & Disadvantages5
3.1.1General Advantages5
3.1.2Impact on Management5
3.1.3Impact on Employees5
3.2.1General Disadvantages5
3.2.2Impact on Management6
3.2.3Impact on Employees6
4Case Studies7

Executive Summary

The objective of this report is to research and evaluate the importance of the grapevine in internal business communications and to provide recommendations of how organisations can effectively manage a healthy grapevine within their organisation.

In order to do this it is necessary to highlight the background and structure of the grapevine, and also its positive and negative impact on organisations. An experiment will demonstrate how quickly information can spread among people, and how easily it can become distorted.

The Grapevine originated during the American Civil War, it is now a world-wide method of informal communication in business and in society in general. A typical grapevine structure consists of various different chains using different types of transmission forms communicated through different types of participants.

We have researched many of the advantages and disadvantages, and the impact they have on management and employees. The most important advantage of the grapevine is the greater possibility for information to reach more people; it can also be a good indicator for the health, morale, trends and productivity in an organisation. The most important disadvantage is inaccuracy of information, which in turn may lead to conflict and damaged reputations within organisations.

From the conclusions of this report we found that a grapevine is a very powerful means of communication and will always be present in any organisation, it is also a part of society in general. There are various benefits and problems which arise from this method of communication. It is one of the most rapid ways to disseminate information. If misused or not carefully monitored it can prove to be damaging to individuals and organisations.

Based on the conclusions our recommendations are that everybody whether you are an employee or a manager should have responsibility not to exploit the information passed along the grapevine. It is important within an organisation for managers to know when to intervene and when to step back and to allow it to run its course. Managers need to know how to solve issues arising from problems caused by the grapevine. It is essential in a well-functioning organisation that employees comply with the recognised behavioural principles.

In order to prevent conflict and encourage healthy communications it is vital that managers do not restrict the natural flow of information, and employees should not falsify or embellish the truth.

Terms of Reference

This report was commissioned by Elizabeth Downes, Business Communications...

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Internal Communication Strategies for your Business [Online], (2007), Available from: [accessed 22 October 2008].
Mishra, J., (1990), Managing the grapevine, [Online], Available from:
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Organisational Communication [Online], (1999), Available from: [accessed 15 October 2008].
Rosenberg McKay, R. (2008) Gossip, Does it have a place at work?, [Online], Available from:
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Rosenberg McKay, R. (2008) How to get along with your colleagues, [Online], Available from: along_with_colleagues.html
Rosnow, R. L. and Foster, E. K. (2005) Rumour and Gossip Research, [Online], American Psychological Association, Available from: [accessed 26 October 2008].
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Locker, K.O. and Kaczmarek, S.K. (2007) Business Communication Building Critical Skills, New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
The Power of the Grapevine:
Source: Walsh, Susanne, M., Ploss, Olesja, V., Boughton, Catherine, J., and Skehan, Juanita, J., (2008).
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