The usual implication is that the information was passed person to person by word of mouth, perhaps in a confidential manner among friends or colleagues. It can also imply an overheard conversation or anonymous sources of information. For instance "I heard through the grapevine that Brad was getting fired."
|“||Often the slaves got knowledge of the results of great battles before the white people received it. This news was usually gotten from the coloured man who was sent to the post office for the mail... The man who was sent to the post office would linger about the place long enough to get the drift of the conversation from the group of white people who naturally congregated there, after receiving their mail, to discuss the latest news. The mail carrier on his way back to our master's house would as naturally retell the news that he had secured among the slaves, and in this way they often heard of important events before the white people at the 'big house,' as the master's house was called.||”|
According to Jitendra Mishra:
|“||The term grapevine can be traced to Civil War days when vinelike telegraph wires were strung from tree to tree across battlefields and used by Army Intelligence. The messages that came over these lines were often so confusing or inaccurate that soon any rumor was said to come from the grapevine. The lines of communication seem to be haphazard and easily disrupted as the telegraph wires were, however, they transmit information rapidly and in many cases faster and with a stronger impact than the formal system allows.||”|
The grapevine communication existed in Civil War to World War 1. It was coined this term because of the nature of networking and reaching several at one time.
Features of Grapevine Communication
Flexibility: There is no formal control over grapevine, so it is more flexible than other forms of communication.
Rapid communication: It is faster than any form of communication.
No record: There is no evidence which can be documented for future reference
Distortion: The message which is passed gets distorted when it passes from one person to another.
Spontaneous: Grapevine communication is spontaneous as it is passed automatically from the top level of the organization to the bottom level without any difficulty in delivering the message.
Grapevine is used by management to spread the information that either can not be shared officially or want to test the waters.
- Managing the grapevine., Jitendra Mishra, Public Personnel Management.
- Clegg, Stewart R., et al. The SAGE Handbook of Organization Studies. SAGE Publications, 2006.
- "Heard It Through the Grapevine". (February 10, 1997). Forbes, pp. 22
"Managing the Grapevine". journal excerpt. Public Personal Management. 1990. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
- Papa, Michael J., Tom D. Daniels and Barry K. Spiker. Organizational Communication: Perspective and Trends. SAGE Publications, 2008.
- Porterfield, Donald F. "Organizational Communication Developments from 1960 to the Present." The Journal of Business Communication (n.d.): 18-23.
- Robbins, Stephen; Essentials of Organizational Behavior (8th ed.) New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-144571-5.
- Spillan, John E., Mary Mino and M. Susan Rowles. "Sharing Organizational Messages Through Effective Lateral Communication." Qualitative Research Reports in Communication (2002): 96-104.