Formal and informal
IB Business & Management
By the end of the lesson, students should be
able to: -
Understand the term channel of communication
Differentiate between formal and informal
Be aware of the impact that ICT has had on how
Formal and informal
The term channel of communication is the method of
For example in order to announce an end-of-season sale,
managers in a large retail business may choose television
Informal communication- refers to all unofficial
channels of that exist among informal groups.
An example of informal communication is the grapevine,
which is basically gossip in the workplace.
Does informal communication help or hinder the
Benefits of informal
Can create a sense of belonging in the
workplace. People from different departments
can talk about non work related issues at
their lunch break. This can help meet their
social needs as identified by Maslow
Can help workers support each other and
deal with any anxiety they may have
Ideas can be pooled that may not have
occurred in more formal channels.
These are official channels of communication
Written communication tends to relate to
more formal channels of communication
Formal communication is directly related to
Data is transmitted from one computer to another
Very fast because all the data is already in
Data can be sent to many recipients in a small
space of time
High set up costs, ongoing costs.
Data not always secure
Email usage at work
Research has shown that most emails are accessed at work. As many
people can access the internet free of charge in their workplace.
However, many of the emails sent are personal messages, such as
arranging social gatherings, rather than work related issues. Research
has also suggested that email usage in the workplace varies from
country to country. For countries where electronic communication is
widely used, the result has been an increase in the number of people
who are using the internet to communicate with their work colleagues.
Some people argue that using email in the workplace can improve
overall efficiency, whilst others believe that it is open to abuse and an
excuse to avoid talking to people.
1. What is meant by electronic mail? (2 marks)
2. Describe how email might encourage informal communication (2
3. To what extent does email improve the efficiency of the workplace? (7
A fax machine converts text images into an
electronic form for transmission.
Faxes can be a quick convenient method of
Why are fax machines becoming less
An example of oral communication
Uses a combination of telephone, computer
and video technology
Reduces travel costs, carbon footprint.
Can be used for overseas recruitment
Telephones and mobile
The average person in Finland has more than
TWO mobile phones.
In Japan the average person replaces their
phone every 9 months.
Factors influencing the choice
of communication method
Personal preference- Some people may prefer to put things in
writing, some may prefer to talk about things.
Organisational structure- a taller structure will require more
formal and structured systems
Security issues- hard copies maybe kept as well as computer
Ease of use- E.g. sending out flyers
Size of business- a small business may rely on verbal methods
Storage issues- An order placed by a customer needs to be
recorded, whereas a conversation about a social event does not
have to be documented
Location of sender and receiver- Time zone differences
Urgency- a courier like FedEx could be used
Cost- Sea mail is cheaper than airmail
Barriers to effective
What do we call any barrier to communication?
High costs Geographical location
Technological Internal politics
breakdowns Poor presentation skills
Language Negative body
Jargon Chinese whispers
Different cultures Physiological barriers
What are the consequences of
Task- OCR’s examination
The Oxford, Cambridge and Royal Society of Arts (OCR)
Examination Board is one of the main examination boards in the
UK. In 2006, some 6400 A Level Geography students were
forced to sit an incomplete exam paper because OCR failed to
send schools copies of a map which was required for a question
worth 16 marks. The blunder by the examination board meant
that the students had to overlook the question that was worth
more 20% of the exam paper. This enraged teachers and
parents since the error placed extra stress on the students. OCR
responded by stating the question would be ignored during the
marking process and launched an investigation into how the slip-
1. Explain two barriers to effective communication (4 marks)
2. Examine the importance of effective communication to an
organisation such as the OCR Examination Board. (6 marks)