What is Grapevine and what are its main characteristics?

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The communication that takes place within groups – informal channels is called the grapevine. It is a carrier of news and gossips and affects the affairs of the organization in a big way. Some managers considered grapevine as an evil because they think that it spreads rumors and can destroy the morale of the employees. But since grapevine can not be eliminated we must learn to live with it. We can not control it completely but we can certainly influence grapevine.

The main characteristics of grapevine are :
(i) Speed:

As compared to formal communication, the speed of grapevine is fast. In a study it was found that in the case of manager who had an addition in his family at a local hospital at eleven O’ clock at night, by 2 P.M. next day 46% of the whole management group knew of the event. The news had traveled via the grapevine, coffee break in the morning contributing the most.

(ii) Degree of Selectively:
Contrary to general belief grapevine shows a highly selective and discriminating path way. It chooses what interests it.

(iii) Locale of operation:
The company grapevine mostly operates at the place of work, Since management has control over work environment, this phenomenon can be made use of tremendously in influencing worker opinion.

(iv) Relation to Formal Communications:
Formal and informal communication systems trend to be jointly active or inactive. If formal communication is slow, grapevine is slow too. The two supplement each other; formal communications step into stamp seal of authority to it.

Grapevine has certain advantages like the grapevine chain is highly flexible and it travels very fast. Managers should not try to abolish grapevine as it is the nervous system of the communication process in an organization.

This article has been written by KJ Singh a MBA Graduate from a prestigious Business School In India
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