Communication Networks: Types & Examples

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  • 0:00 Communication Network
  • 0:31 Wheel Network
  • 1:43 Chain Network
  • 2:48 Circle Network
  • 3:31 All-Channel Network
  • 4:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sean Kennedy

Sean has 8 years experience as a supervisor and has an MBA with a concentration in marketing.

Do you ever wonder how different communication networks work? In this lesson, we will discuss four different types: wheel network, chain network, circle network, and all-channel network and how each can be used in different organizations.

Communication Network

Could you imagine working in an environment where there was no clear communication? Are you wondering what type of communication your company uses? Having a good way of communicating and passing on decisions is vital to any organization.

A communication network refers to the method that employees pass on information to other employees in an organization. Let's take a look at four different types: the wheel network, chain network, circle network, and all-channel network.

Wheel Network

A wheel network is a style of communication where the leader is the only one to receive or give communication. The leader, usually the supervisor or owner in the company, is like the bright light in the middle of a Ferris wheel; the light starts in the middle then gets passed on to all the spokes at the ends of the wheel. This one person has to know everything about the business and relays all messages. Employees have an exact idea of how decisions are made and how communication is handled.

For example, Gina is the owner and manager of a small boutique. She has only five employees. Information comes from her directly to these employees, and they communicate directly back to her. As the centralized decision maker, it's important that she make the best decisions for the company.

Though direct and efficient, the wheel network has its disadvantages and may not be appropriate for some situations or for companies with a greater number of people. If the leader is not responsible, dedicated, or communicative, the whole business will suffer. Likewise, a company with many employees needs more decision makers or nothing would get done. Can you imagine if Google only had one person making decisions?

Chain Network

In a chain network individuals communicate in a set sequence. Communication starts at the top, like from a CEO, and works its way down to the different levels of employees.

This communication network is indeed like a chain in that the top of the chain has to go through each individual link before getting to the end. The CEO will talk to a manager who is next in the hierarchy but does not talk to a clerk at the bottom of the hierarchy. The chain network often takes up time, and communication may not be clear. This could cause people at the bottom to feel discouraged, but it could also give them the motivation to move up the chain.

Do you remember playing the game telephone in school? You tell one person a message, then they tell another person the same message, but by the time it gets to the last person, the message is often different. Everyone perceives information differently, so the more people that it goes through, the more it can be altered. Would you want to be the last person that is supposed to say 'Al has a nice hat,' but instead says, 'Al is really fat.' This could be the case in a chain network.

Circle Network

In a circle network people of similar rank have open communication, and the message will get relayed to other people in the group. For instance, the CEO may pass information to the managers. Then the managers will pass on the information to the employees in their department.

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