Grapevine Communication: Definition, Types, Grapevine in Business Communication

Grapevine Definition: 6 Reason for Grapevine CommunicationThough grapevine provides innumerable utilities to the organization, still it is not free from defects. Therefore, managers should try to use grapevine in a way so that the organization can take the highest benefits from it.

Grapevine Definition in Business Communication

Grapevine is a form of informal communication, operates both in internal and external informal channels which can contribute to and benefit the organization.

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 every one 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, the 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.

5 Ways to make Grapevine Beneficiary to Organization

Grapevine in Business Communication

  1. Providing real news to the grapevine initiators.
  2. Considering grapevine as a pulse feeling tool.
  3. Contradicting the false rumor.
  4. Allowing workers in the decision-making process
  5. Developing a good organizational climate.

Providing real news to the grapevine initiators

Managers should identify the people who take an active part in grapevine channels and provide them with real news so that they can transmit real facts to the grapevine channels.

This will eventually, resist transmission of rumor, untrue and distorted messages.

Considering grapevine as a pulse feeling tool

Since grapevine is an important source of receiving feedback, managers should use it as a tool for feeling the pulse of the employees.

Contradicting the false rumor

If any false rumor occurs in the organization, management should immediately contradict and protest the rumor through formal channels.

As a result, the feeding of false rumors will decrease.

Allowing workers in the decision-making process

If the workers are allowed to take part in the decision-making process, they will be well informed of the facts.

In such a situation, there will be nothing to suspect and to create a false rumor.

Developing good organizational climate

Good organizational climate impels the employees to develop a sense of belongingness, to maintain status, chain of command and self-respect, and to enhance satisfaction.

All these will facilitate the occurrence of grapevine in the most desired and effective way.

At last, we can say that though the organization cannot hire and fire the grapevine, it can ensure an environment where people can practice grapevine in the most desired and effective way.

4 Patterns or Types of Grapevine

The grapevine communication is usually horizontal in nature. But it can be horizontal, vertical and diagonal. Prof. Keith Davis has classified grapevine into 4 types.

  • Single Strand Chain.
  • Gossip Chain.
  • Probability Chain.
  • Cluster Chain.

6 Reasons 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.

6 reasons why grapevine communication happenings in Organization;

  1. The emotion of Employees.
  2. The existence of Informal and Peer Groups.
  3. Exceptional Information.
  4. Job Itself.
  5. People of Talkative Nature and Suspicious Attitude.
  6. Organizational Climate.

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, a 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 excitement of 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 Information

Exceptional events 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 the grapevine channel.

Job Itself

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 through the grapevine.

Organizational Climate

Now a day, many organizations permit their 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.

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