Keith Davis explains the following features of Grapevine:
1. Although grapevine information tends to be sent orally, it may be written. Handwritten or typed notes sometimes are used, but in the modem electronic office these messages typically are flashed on computer screens, creating the new era of the electronic grapevine. This system can spread the transmission of more units of information within a very short time.
It won’t replace the face-to-face grapevine however, for two reasons. For one, not every employee has access to a network of personal computers at work. The other reason is that many workers enjoy the more personal social interact gained through the traditional grapevine.
2. Since the grapevine arises from social interaction, it is as fickle, dynamic, and varied as people are. It is the expression of their natural motivation to communicate. It is the exercise of their freedom of speech and is a natural, normal activity. In fact, only employees who are totally disinterested in their work do not engage in shoptalk about it.
3. In a sense, the grapevine is a human birthright, because whenever people congregate into groups, the grapevine is sure to develop. It may use smoke signals, jungle tom-toms, taps on the prison wall, ordinary conversation, or some other method, but it will always be there. Organisations cannot ‘fire’ the grapevine because they did not hire it. It is simply there.
4. People tend to think the grapevine is less accurate than it is because its errors are more dramatic and consequently more impressed on memory than its day-by- day routine accuracy. Moreover, one inaccurate part may make a whole story inaccurate.
5. Grapevine information usually is incomplete, so it may be seriously misinterpreted even though the details it does carry are accurate. That is even though the grapevine tends to carry the truth, it rarely carriers the whole truth. These cumulative inadequacies of the grapevine mean that in total it tends to produce more misunderstanding than its small percentage of wrong information suggests.
6. The grapevine gives managers much feedback about employees and their jobs. It also helps interpret management to the workers. It especially helps translate a management’s formal orders into employee language, in this way helping to make up for management failures in communication.
7. In several instances the grapevine carriers information that the formal system does not wish to carry and purposely leaves unsaid.
8. Another grapevine feature is its pace. Being flexible and personal it spreads information faster then most management communication systems.
9. Another grapevine feature is its unusual ability to penetrate even the tightest company security screen because of its capacity to out across organizational lines and deal directly with the people who know. The grapevine is well known as a source of confidential information.