Business Dictionary – N


    Also known as Begware. Computer shareware that periodically displays messages on your computer screen prompting you to register for a product and/or pay a fee.

Naked Debenture

    Also known as Uncovered Debenture. A company’s loan or debt which is not backed by any security, i.e., the company’s assets.

Narrow Money

    Also called M1. A country’s money supply which can be exchanged, for example coins, bank notes, bank cheques, travellers cheques, etc.

National Debt

    The total amount of money owed by a nation’s government.

Natural Wastage

    In business, the process of reducing the number of employees by not replacing those who have left their jobs, rather than by redundancy or dismissal.

Negative Certificate Of Origin

    A document which states that goods, or any part of the goods, were not produced in a country from which the buyer refuses to accept goods or produce.

Negative Equity

    A term commonly used in the property market during a recession when a property is worth less in value than the outstanding balance of the loan with which it was purchased. This usually only affects the borrower if they need to sell the property during this time.

Negative Growth

    A term used to describe a recession. The opposite of economic growth.

Negative Inventory

    A situation where a mistake in the ordering system or transactions of a business shows the stock to be less than zero. Sometimes this is done deliberately to reduce costs.


    A breach of a duty to act with expected care in conducting activities, resulting in harm to one or more people. Negligence occurs when an organization causes harm or injury through carelessness or inattention to the needs of the groups to which it owes a duty of care. These can include its customers, consumers of its product or service, shareholders, or the local community. Victims of negligence are entitled to claim compensation. Negligence is considered to be gross negligence if it is the result of excessively careless behavior.

Negotiating Table

    Describes formal discussions where agreements are trying to be reached.


    A word or expression which has been newly invented but is not yet in common use, or an old word which has a new meaning.


    In business and organizations, nepotism refers to those in power showing favouritism towards friends and family, for example by giving them jobs because of their relationship rather than their abilities. The word came into English from French in the mid-1600s and originally derives from the Italian nipote, nephew, and the tradition of giving privileges to the ‘nephews’ of popes, who were typically actually illigitimate sons. Nepotism is a common source of conflict of interest.

Nest Egg

    A sum of money which someone has saved for the future.


    Activities, communities, services, information, etc., interconnected by the Internet.


    A set of informal rules and regulations that govern Internet etiquette, i.e., the acceptable behaviour of people on the World Wide Web.

Network Management

    The coordinated control of computer systems and programs to allow access to and delivery of information to a number of users.


    A newcomer or novice at something, especially on the Internet.

New Metrics

    Standards for measuring or quantifying the activities and success of an organization that incorporate nontraditional approaches.


    Term used to describe a product or technology which has been improved or upgraded so that the newest version is much more advanced than previous versions.

Niche Company

    A company that produces a product or service that fills a specialized gap in the overall provision of a market.

Niche Market

    A specialised market in which a specific product is sold to a particular type or group of customers. A product or service for which there is sometimes little demand and often little or no competition.

NIH Syndrome

    Not Invented Here. A term used for companies who reject ideas or products which are not theirs because they originated from outside the company.


    Irrelevant or insignificant data which overload a feedback process. The presence of noise can confuse or divert attention from relevant information; efficiency in a system is enhanced as the ratio of information to noise increases.


    Set or system of official names, terms, or specialized vocabulary used in a particular area, discipline, or subject such as accounting, engineering, finance, law.

Nominal Damages

    A very small sum of money awarded by a court to the plaintiff when no real damage or harm was caused by the defendant, who has to pay the damages, usually $1 or £2.

Nominal Price

    The price of an item being sold when the price is lower than the full value.


    Failure or refusal to obey or comply with a rule, regulation or standard, which can commonly result in serious action by an inspector or ombudsman.

Nonconformance Costs

    Costs associated with the failure to achieve conformance to requirements. Nonconformance costs accrue when organizations waste large sums of money because of carrying out the wrong tasks, or failing to perform the right tasks correctly the first time.


    A signed formal agreement in which one party agrees to keep certain information secret. Often used in business when products or projects are being developed.


    In business, a member of a board of directors or a consultant who is not an employee of a company but who gives independent advice.

Non-Executive Director

    Also called Outside Director. A person who is an independent member of a company’s board of directors, i.e., they are not an employee of the company and are therefore not responsible for the day to day operations of the company but monitor the activities of the full time executives.


    Failure to perform a duty or carry out an act when under legal obligation.

Nonrandom Sampling

    A sampling technique that is used when it cannot be ensured that each item has an equal chance of being selected, or when selection is based on expert knowledge of the population.


    Not related to the long-term objectives of an organization or the resources used to achieve those objectives.

Non-Recourse Debt

    A type of loan or debt in which the borrower is not personally liable to the lender. If the borrower fails to make repayments the lender can only take back what was bought with the loan and none of the borrowers other assets.

Non Sequitur

    in communications/debate, logic, and notably the law, non sequitur basically refers to a conclusion which is false or unsupported by its argument. In literature or comedy non sequitur refers more specifically to a statement which does not relate to what precedes it in a bizarre and often amusing way – a funny example of non sequitur humour/humor is Monty Python’s Holy Grail ‘Burn the witch’ sketch in which a series of non sequitur conclusions are used: (paraphrased) "…You burn witches; wood also burns; so witches are made of wood. Wood floats; a duck also floats; so a witch weighs the same as a duck…"

    In politics we frequently hear non sequitur arguments and justifications routinely used by politicians and disguised to seem like logical rational reason, when in fact the argument/justification completely fails to support the conclusion, and bluff with force/confidence/arrogance of delivery is effectively the most persuasive factor.

Non-Tariff Barrier

    (NTB) A type of non-tax trade restriction on imported goods which is used to make it difficult for certain goods to be taken into a country.


    A sudden drop or plunge in prices, values, etc.


    A person, usually a solicitor, officially authorised to witness signatures and certify legal documents.


    A position on a scale such as an incremental salary scale.


    A very small portable computer.

Not Enough Bandwidth

    Term which is used when there are not enough people and/or enough time to get a job done.

Notice Of Deficiency

    In the US, an official document sent to a taxpayer which shows that they owe more tax than has been declared on their tax form.

Notice Period

    The period of time during which an employee must work between resigning from and leaving their place of work.

No-Win No-Fee

    Conditional Fee Agreement. An agreement with your solicitor in which you don’t have to pay their fee if your court case is not successful.


    An area of poor or lack of coverage in cellphone service or similar communications technology.


    An agreement to change a contract by substituting a third party for one of the two original parties

Nudge Theory

    A modern concept and ‘instrument’ of social influence, used by governments, state organizations and commercial corporations, attributed to US professor of economics/behavioral science Richard Thaler, popularized by the 2008 book ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness’, by R Thaler and Cass R Sunstein. Nudge Theory, or simply ‘Nudge’, employs principles/techniques of suggestion, positive accentuation, support, reward, etc., in altering behaviour/behavior of social groups, populations, audiences, etc. Methods are based on the careful design of communication and relationship between the influencer and the target group, often applied with great subtlety and sophistication.

    Many of the tactics are hardly noticeable, and target groups will commonly not perceive remotely that their actions and attitudes have been influenced at all. The sense is one of achieving a big beneficial/advantageouos change by exerting often a tiny but crucial influence at a crucial point in the decision-making process, or at a pivotal stage, so as to produce a major effect. Nudge theo0ry is to an extent counter-intuitive because it seeks to achieve influence more effectively than traditional strategies involving forceful instruction, threat, legal action or other enforcement. A simple example of Nudge Theory is breaking a challenges process down into easier-to-achieve smaller steps; or rewording an official application form so that it is easier to read.

Null Hypothesis

    A proposition that undergoes verification to determine if it should be accepted or rejected in favor of an alternative proposition. Often the null hypothesis is expressed as "There is no relationship between two quantities."

    For example, in market research, the null hypothesis would be “A ten-percent increase in price will not adversely affect the sale of this product.” Based on survey results, this hypothesis will be either accepted as correct or rejected as incorrect.

Number Cruncher

    An accountant or person who’s job is working with numbers, and who is able to do large calculations. A computer which can perform complex calculations in a short time.

Numbered Account

    Often called a Swiss Bank Account. An account, offered by certain banks, which can only be identified by a number, so the account holder is known only to a restricted number of the bank’s employees.

Numerical Control

    The use of numerical data to influence the operation of equipment. It allows the operation of machinery to be automated and usually involves the use of computer systems. Data is generated, stored, manipulated, and retrieved while a process is in operation..