Business Dictionary – H


    Nowadays the word hacker commmonly refers to a person who breaks into or ‘hacks’ into the secure computer systems of an organization, especially websites and online systems, using online connection, often just as a technical challenge, or potentially with intent to steal, destroy, vandalise information, websites, etc. Originally however the terms hack and hacker referred to a person who enjoyed exploring and experimenting – perfectly legitimately and legally – with computer code and related computing systems, out of curiosity or for purposes of technical challenge and improvement, discovery, etc.

    This is an example of how language and meanings evolve over time, particularly when a term becomes distorted for dramatic effect by mass media. Be aware in this case therefore, that some people – especially original ‘old-school’ hackers and computer code enthusiasts could be offended and unjustly maligned by the criminal implication of the common illicit hacking interpretation.

    Incidentally among coding enthusiasts the original technical term for a criminal ‘hacker’ was a ‘cracker’.


    Negotiate with someone over the price of something until an agreeably mutual price is reached.

Hall Test

    A term used when a group of people are gathered together at a particular location and asked to take part in market research.


    A small printed advertisement, usually on one sheet, often given out to people by hand.


    A term often applied to managers who do not directly participate when dealing with a situation in the workplace by letting the people involved decide what they want to do.


    Characterized by first-hand personal involvement in the management of an activity


    1. Becoming stable after a period of fluctuation.

    2. Used to describe prices that are slowly moving upward

Hard Selling

    An aggressive type of selling which puts a lot of pressure on a prospective customer to buy a product or a service.


    A term used when a product is still being sold, although it is no longer being invested in, prior to being withdrawn from the market.


    A type of tag (here a prefix used with a word/term/reference/etc via electronic keypads, computing, smartphones, etc) in the social networking website Twitter and similar short messaging systems, so that a word preceded by the hash symbol (#) may be found subsequently or otherwise organized, analyzed, displayed, etc. The symbol is generally called the pound sign in the US, since it is used commonly instead of the traditional British £ symbol in referring to sterling currency.

Hawthorne Effect

    Specifically the inclination of a group of workers to change their behaviour positively because they were being studied, irrespective of whether they were subjected to ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ conditions. First observed in studies by Elton Mayo at the Western Electric plant in Chicago, beginning 1928. The Hawthorne Effect basically established that attitude was more influenced by emotional rather than economic factors.

Headcount Reduction

    A reduction in the number of people employed by a company in circumstances such as a drop in the amount of sales.


    To find a person who is specialised in a particular job, usually for a senior position in a company, and then persuade them to leave their present employment.

Heads of Agreement

    Key items agreed on the most important subjects or items dealt with in a commercial agreement.


    A person who, without fail, always buys the most up to date version of an existing product as soon as it comes onto the market.


    A method for problem solving or decision making that arrives at solutions through exploratory means such as experimentation, trial and error, or evaluation.


    A temporary pause or break. The term is commonly used to designate a break in continuous airing of a television show, such as the break between seasons, or a break in a person’s employment history.

High Concept

    A compelling idea that is expressed clearly and concisely.


    Relating to the most expensive, most advanced, or most powerful in a variety of products such as computers.

Highly Geared Company

    A company that has a large amount of debt in proportion to its equity.

High Net Worth

    Term which describes a rich individual or family who have investable assets of $1million or more, but this can vary. A person with more than $50million is classed as Ultra High Net Worth.

Hire Purchase (HP)

    A contract between a buyer and seller in which the buyer takes possession of an item and then pays for it in regular instalments, usually monthly, and does not become the owner of the item until the final payment has been made. Also referred to as ‘Buying on the never-never’.

Hockey Stick

    A performance curve, typical of businesses in their early stages, that descends then rises sharply in a straight line, creating a shape similar to that of a hockey stick..

Holding Company

    A company which is formed for owning and holding controlling shares in other companies.

Hole in The Wall

    An informal term for a cash dispensing machine, also called an ATM (automated teller machine).


    Homeostasis is a powerful and illuminating concept. Technically, yet somewhat unhelpfully, the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) defines homeostasis as "The tendency towards a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes". Homeostasis is perhaps more easily understood initially via its Greek roots, meaning ‘similar’ and ‘standing still’. Homeostasis refers scientifically to the act of ‘self-balancing’ or ‘internally self-compensating’ in ecological/biological systems.

    For example, the notion that planet Earth tends to balance itself, adjusting life-forms in response to environmental conditions. On a smaller scale a detailed instance is offered in the natural and eventually balanced re-population of life-forms on Krakatoa island after devastating earthquake in 1883. Many argue that planet Earth naturally self-balances its life and atmospheric situation over quite short periods, and particularly millennia, thus ensuring survival/continuity. Humankind’s survival is not guaranteed within this; but the planet’s survival, and life of one sort or another, probably is. Such self-balancing of a system is called homeostasis.

    Even more fascinatingly the term homeostasis refers to human life generally where people/societies tend to adjust risk/consumption according to consequences, driven by resistance to change. ‘Reaction to feedback’ is crucial in homeostasis, whereby a system or relationship reacts to a change in one element of the relationship/system, by making a compensating change in another part, or other parts, of the relationship/system, so as to mainatin continuity and balance. In human terms this is very typically seen as avoidance of overall system change, which is usually felt to be threatening. We can see this and other sorts of homeostatic theory acting in practice for example where:

    Players of dangerous/contact sports tend to increase their exposure to risk in response to increasing the wearing of protective padding/equipment. Boxing gloves, for example, enable/encourage the tolerance/exposure to far more punches than would be the case in bare-knuckle fighting; similarly rugby and other contact sports see greater exposure to impact risk when more protective gear is worn.

    Homeostasis is very significant in mating/family relationships, where the relationship is defined far more by the nature of the people involved, rather than any interventions or changes, which tend to produce compensating reactions, fundamentally driven by the need to preserve the essential relationship, which may commonly contain outwardly undesirable features, but nevertheless are satisfying a need within the relationship, perverse or otherwise.

    The development of political empires and dominant economic regions tend to be self-limiting/balancing over time because absolute global superiority is not a ‘balanced’ system. Economic/political expansion therefore tends always to produce counter-effects, such as ethnic unrest/rebellion, and irresistible economic or cultural advantage/opportunity elsewhere, ensuring that power shifts geographically over time, rather than keeps growing indefinitely.

    The balance between work and leisure in life does not significantly alter despite massive technological advancement. As technology improves theoretical efficiency, and potentially creates more time for leisure, so work, driven by competition, expands to use the all available capacity.

    Roads are excellent examples of homeostatic systems. As capacity increases, so does traffic to fill it. As traffic increases, so does inefficiency, which provides a counter-effect, so that counter-intuitively, the best way to reduce traffic congestion is to reduce road capacity, not increase it. Increasing capacity in all systems inevitably increases demand, and means simply that when problems arise they are bigger. This is why optimizing traffic flow in cities only ever encourages greater traffic use, thereby offsetting any time/space gains offered potentially by the improved traffic system design.

    Homeostasis is a very good pointer to the significance of counter-intuitive effects. We imagine that changing a system will produce a benefit, but actually very many such changes – especially when designed to address a perceived major problem – produce overall negative effects.


    The removal of characteristic differences between separate markets and cultures. Globalization is frequently blamed for homogenization.

Horizontal Diversification

    Expansion into a related but different product area, for example, a domestic furniture manufacturer producing office furniture.

Horizontal Merger

    The amalgamation of two or more organizations from the same industry under single ownership, through the direct acquisition by one organization of the net assets or liabilities of the other.


    Bargaining in which the goods are not directly comparable and the valuations are frequently subjective.

Hostile Bid

    An attempt to acquire a company that is opposed by the company targeted.

Hostile Takeover

    The acquisition by a company of a controlling interest in the voting share capital of another company whose directors or stockholders are opposed to the action.

Hot Desking

    In an office, the practise of having a pool of desks, which are usually equipped with phone and computer links, so that workers can use them when they are required, rather than having their own individual desk.


    Informal term for an intense development environment or method, or the verb equivalent, typically applied to training people or developing ideas or ventures; a metaphor alluding to a heated greenhouse for growing plants.

Human Asset Accounting

    An attempt to place a financial figure on the knowledge and skills of an organization’s employees or human capital.

Human Resource Management

    A model of personnel management that focuses on the individual rather than taking a collective approach. It is characterized by an emphasis on strategic integration, employee commitment, workforce flexibility, and quality of goods and services.

Human Resources (HR)

    The people who are employed by and operate a business or organisation. The department within a company which deals with recruitment, training, employee benefit, etc.

Hunt and Peck

    Inexpert slow typing on a keyboard using only one or two fingers.


    An internet service offering encypted email, file storage, etc.

Hush Money

    A bribe or payment, which is often illegal, given to someone to stop them from disclosing information, usually to prevent bad publicity or to hide a crime.


    Hyperbole is an extreme and figurative exaggeration or overstatement, which in strict grammatical terms is not generally expected to be taken seriously or interpreted literally, for example, "I’ve been waiting for ever for a bus," and yet where hyperbole is used for motivational or persuasive effect in business or politics, the technique very often intends to convey maximum impact on an audience, for example, "You’ll never have another opportunity like this…" The word derives ultimately from the Greek root words: huper, over, and ballein, to throw.


    An extraordinarily high rate of economic inflation during which a country’s prices rise and currency loses its value uncontrollably in a vicious cycle, usually occurring during severe political instability or war. Normally inflation is measured in terms of a few percentage points increase per year – typically below 10% and sometimes approaching 20%. By contrast hyperinflation may be at a rates of tens of percentage points increase per month, and in extreme rare cases hundreds of percentage points per month. In this event, where prices can be doubling and currency values halving every few weeks (or days, in very rare situations), a country is forced to issue new banknote denominations of ludicrously high values, and within living memory news stories have featured workers collecting their wages in wheelbarrows.

Hypothesis Testing

    The process of testing sample data from a statistical study to determine whether it is consistent with what is known about the sample population.