Grapevine is a form of informal communication. It arises due to co-existence of people. Therefore, it is found in all organizations. It does not follow any prescribed or predetermined rule and spreads any information quickly.
Through the grapevine, information flows in different directions linking almost everyone of an organization.
It is governed by social and personal relationships rather than officially recognized rules and formalities.
Grapevine operates both in internal and external informal channels. It passes opinions, suspicions, and rumors that generally do not move through formal channels.
By nature, grapevine is a channel of horizontal communication. However, in fact, it does not follow any set pattern. It effectively operates horizontally, vertically and even diagonally.
Grapevine is a natural outgrowth person-to-person informal communication channel through which information flows horizontally, vertically or diagonally without following any set rule or regulation among the people within or outside the organization.
Why Grapevine Communication Exists in Organization
Communication through the grapevine is a matter of spontaneous feelings. Some personal matters and other situations may cause these feelings.
Keith Davis said in this regard-“The grapevine is more a product of situation than it is of the person.”
Typical examples of situations prompting grapevines include layoffs, takeovers, promotions, the introduction of new technology etc.
Personal factors also encourage involving in grapevine actively. The probable causes that may activate the grapevine are discussed below:
Emotion of Employees
Some organizational issues like the insecurity of service, the uncertainty of promotion, prohibition to forming and enter into trade unions, undermining the role of subordinates by superiors etc. are likely to create emotions in the mind of workers and make them excited.
Thus for relieving the emotions and cooling down the excitements some workers tend to activate grapevine.
Existence of Informal and Peer Groups
Grapevine is a symbol that reveals the existence of informal and peer groups in the organization. For exchanging most personal and some organizational matters, they start channeling information through the grapevine.
Exceptional event or information like the innovation of new products, investment in the new field, providing special facilities to a particular employee etc. should be disseminated throughout the organization.
If these are not disclosed to the employees, someone may activate grapevine channel.
It is observed that some jobs or positions such as personal assistant, personal secretary, driver etc. by their nature can hold some important messages and play an active role in feeding information in grapevine.
Keith Davis pointed out in this regard that – “Secretaries to the managers are four times likely to be key grapevine communicators, compared with other employees”.
People of Talkative Nature and Suspicious Attitude
People of talkative nature or people holding suspicion on any matter play an active role in channeling information on the grapevine.
Now a day, many organizations permit its employees to communicate with each other frequently. This also inspires them to activate grapevine.
In conclusion, we can say that since the above-stated issues or situations are common in every organization regardless of their size and nature, the presence of grapevine is inevitable there.
Grapevine is more a product of the situation than it is to the person.