The grapevine is a communication method or procedure which is scarcely informal communication system. It is comprised of gossip and rumor. It arises due to the co-existence of people.
According to Prof. Keith Davis,
“Grapevine arises from social interaction; it is as fickle, dynamic and varied as people are. It is the exercise of their freedom of speech and is a natural, normal activity”.
Grapevine refers to the informal channel of communication that possesses a set of distinct features as compared to the formal channel of communication. The features are as follows:
- A un-official channel of communication
Grapevine is an informal and unofficial means of communication. Normally, grapevine passes the facts, opinions, suspicions, and rumors that do not move through formal channels. Since an informal communication network does not pursue any rules or formalities. So, it is an unauthorized channel of communication.
- Not controlled by management
The grapevine is not controlled by management. The grapevine is principally controlled by the employees themselves. As employees control the grapevine information, sometimes the information might be precise and sometimes the information may be incorrect. Actually, there is no managerial control over the grapevine communication system. It is developed by itself.
As grapevine is free from any prescribed rule and formality, it enjoys flexibility in transmitting information. It can communicate information to any person, anywhere and at any time. For this cause, it is a more flexible communication system than any other ways of communication.
An organization may have several grapevine systems depending on nature, size, levels, etc. That meant, people working at the same level or position may have one grapevine while people at another level may have another grapevine.
- Speedy transmission
Another feature of grapevine is its fast pace. It spreads information very quickly. A message sent through formal channels may take days to reach its audience. But the message sent through the grapevine can travel within hours. Particularly miss-inflation or rumor extend quickly to others is the organization.
- Incomplete message
Grapevine message is usually incomplete. It hardly carries details of information. Therefore, the grapevine message creates misunderstanding in the organization. In this communication procedure, information passes quickly man to man. That’s why the information losses its originality.
- Distortion of information
Grapevine also transmits distorted information. The message transmitted through grapevine may be correct and true, but it fails to communicate the message completely. Consequently, when the receiver of the message further transmits it, he may admixture his own thoughts that lead to the distortion of the message.
- Free from accountability
Grapevine does not follow any set rule and it is independent of the established organizational structure. Therefore, the organization cannot hold anyone responsible for passing rumor or untrue information. The exchange of message in informal communication is liberated from liability to the authority or top executives of the institute.
Grapevine is highly influential. It is so influential that it can break the tightest security measures of the company and can collect confidential information. It can also strongly affect the organization positively and negatively.
Informal communication is the procedure of spontaneous exchange of information between two or more person at dissimilar status within the organizational formation. It passes quickly and impulsively from top to bottom of the organization. Here is no need to make any effort to make it successful.
Informal communication is multidirectional in nature. The grapevine might be mainly obtainable to merely serve the benefit of the people it involves. Many times, employees use the grapevine to begin rumors that serve their own interests, with little regard to the people they concern.
- No record
We can’t keep any documentary record or evidence of grapevine communication system that can be shown or produced as a future reference. Informal communication technique more uses oral way of communication rather than written communication.
- Used for self-interest
As grapevine communication system is produced by gossip and rumor, It is basically used for the self-interest of the employees of an organization. This communication system is much popular among the employees than other formal or informal channels.