Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Social Work


Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations.


Ferguson, J.




The purpose of this research thesis was to study the transmission of informal news including rumours and gossip on a "grapevine" network in a large private utility. The subject of internal communications within organizations has had considerable discussion in the literature but little factual research has been attempted to measure the various communication networks within an organization. The informal network system (referred to as grapevines) contains the following: factual news, rumours, and gossip. Organizations contain both formal and informal communication networks. The formal one is usually represented by an organizational flow chart corresponding to the chain-of-command. Such a flow chart establishes a control system for the transmission of all officially derived messages. The informal network or grapevine, supplements the formal network and can have either a positive or negative effect on the organization and in contrast to the formal network, it emerges spontaneously and is situationally derived. The major problems are: How does the grapevine work? Does the information contained in the grapevine move vertically down through a department or does it move horizontally through other departments? Does the information move primarily down from the top levels of management to the lower levels? Finally, does an increase in scientific management bring about a growth in grapevine activities? This research project took place within a large private public utility in a division located in Southwestern Ontario. The division was broken down into two separate branches, with a total of 225 employees. Of this total, 151 were males and 74 were females. The theoretical approach was the, "exchange theory" as defined and developed by Homans (1958) and Blau (1964).Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1994 .C374. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 34-02, page: 0612. Adviser: J. Ferguson. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1994.