This is also known as the grapevine, is not a planned or deliberately created channel of communication. It is free from all formalities. No formal organizational chart is followed to convey messages. It is based on the informal relations of the two persons, the sender and the receiver of communication. It runs in all directions-horizontal, vertical, diagonal. It flows around water coolers, down hallways, through lunch rooms, and wherever people get together in groups. A general manager may develop contacts with a worker people get together in groups. A general manager may develop contacts with a worker at the lowest level and communicate certain important information relating to him direct to the worker. It is an example of informal communication. It is the result of the natural desire of people to communicate with each other when they come into contact on a regular basis. When interaction takes place among them, a small social groups emerges spontaneously, and members of the group develop their own communication system known as informal communication channel, or the grapevine.
Factors responsible for the grapevine phenomenon
a) Feeling of uncertainty or lack of direction when the organization is passing through a difficult period.
b) Feeling of inadequacy or lack of self-confidence on the part of employees, leading to the formation of groups.
c) Formation of a coterie, clique or favored group by the managers, giving other employees a feeling of insecurity or isolation.
Types of grapevine
a) Single strand chain: in this type of chain 'A' tell something to 'B' who tells it to 'C' and so on it goes down the line. This chain is the least accurate in passing on the information.
b) Gossip Chain: in this person speaks out and tells everyone the information he or she has obtained. This chain is often used when information or a message regarding an interesting but 'non-job related' nature is being conveyed.
c) Cluster chain: in this type of chain 'A' tells something to a few selected individuals inform a few selected individuals.
d) Probability chain: in this type of chain individuals are indifferent to ,or not reality interested in the persons to whom they are passing same information. They just tell at random, and those people in turn tell others at random. This chain is found when the information is somewhat interesting but not really significant.
Merits of grapevine
a) Speedy transmission
b) Feedback value
c) Support of other channels
d) Give psychological satisfaction and strengthens the solidarity of the workers.
Demerits of grapevine
a) The inbuilt nature of grapevine makes it less credible than the formal channel of communication by words of mouth it cannot always be taken seriously.
b) This doesn't always carry the complete information.
c) The gravening may and indeed often does. Distort the information. As it is entirely unofficial, informal and in authenticated it may cast aspersion on anybody as impute motives to the best meaning go the people?
d) The speed of grapevine spreads may also at time prove counterproductive.