Business Dictionary – S


    A period of leave which is granted to an employee, sometimes up to a year, in order for them to study, travel, rest, etc.


    To deliberately destroy or damage property, tools, or machinery in order to hinder production. To cause an obstruction to something in order to make it unsuccessful.


    To be dismissed from employment.

Safety Stock

    Also called Buffer Stock. Extra stock kept by a company or business in case of extra demand or late deliveries of new stock.

Safety Margin

    An extra amount of time or space allowed to make sure that something can be done safely.

Salami Slicing

    The process of carrying out small actions or removing something in very small amounts so that it goes unnoticed, i.e., stealing money.


    An employees wages which are paid on a regular basis for performing their job.

Salary Ceiling

    1. The highest level in a pay range that an employee can achieve under his or her contract/p>

    2. An upper limit on pay imposed by government or fixed according to labor union and employer agreements.

Sale And Leaseback

    An arrangement in which property, machinery, etc., is sold to a business or individual, who then immediately leases it back to the seller.

Sale Or Return

    An agreement in which unsold goods can be returned to the supplier without the goods having to be paid for.

Sales And Marketing

    The business of promoting and selling a company’s products or services. The department of a business which carries our these activities.

Sales Conference

    A meeting at which members of a company’s sales team(s) are brought together to discuss or review ways of marketing the company’s products or services.

Sales Pitch

    A salespersons attempts to persuade a potential customer to buy something, often using demonstration and argument.

Sales Resistance

    The refusal of a potential customer to buy a product or service, often as a result of aggressive selling practices.

Salvage Value

    Also known as Residual Value. The estimated value of an asset, for example a piece of machinery, which is to be scrapped or removed.


    In a hostile takeover situation, to enter into talks with the bidder and attempt to prolong them as long as possible, in the hope that a white knight will appear and rescue the target company.


    In a court of law, the practice by a lawyer of not mentioning a possible error which has occurred during a trial in the hope that it goes unnoticed and the lawyer can then use it as a basis for appeal.


    A derogatory term for an employee who refuses to join a trade union, or who continues to work during a strike at their workplace. Also describes someone who accepts work or replaces a union worker during a strike.


    A system that is graded into various levels.


    The ability of a computer network, software, etc., to expand and adapt to increased demands of users. A system which can work on a small or large scale according to demand.


    Means of making money by deceit or fraud.

Scarcity Value

    A situation where the more scarce an item is, the more its worth.


    A possible future state of affairs or sequence of events. Scenarios are imagined or projected on the basis of current circumstances and trends and expectations of change in the future.

Scenario Planning

    A technique that requires the use of a scenario in the process of strategic planning to aid the development of corporate strategy in the face of uncertainty about the future The process of identifying alternative scenarios of the future, based on a variety of differing assumptions, can help managers anticipate changes in the business environment and raise awareness of the frame of reference within which they are operating. The scenarios are then used to assist in both the development of strategies for dealing with unexpected events and the choice between alternative strategic options.


    A plan, arrangement, or way of working.

Scheme Of Arrangement

    A legal agreement between a company and its shareholders and/or creditors in which the company will pay what debts it can as an alternative to bankruptcy.


    A split or division in a group into opposing factions, caused by differences of opinion.

Scientific Management

    An analytical approach to managing activities by optimizing efficiency and productivity through measurement and control. Scientific management theories were dominant in the 20th century, and many management techniques such as benchmarking, total quality management, and business process reengineering result from a scientific management approach.

Scorched-Earth Policy

    A situation in which a company tries to prevent a hostile take-over by selling off its most valuable assets, thereby making the company unattractive to a potential buyer. Derives from a military strategy of ‘leaving nothing for the enemy’ by burning crops, buildings, etc.

Screen-Based Activity

    A task which is carried out using a computer.

Screening Interview

    A brief, first interview, sometimes over the phone, with a company looking for potential job applicants. This process weeds out unsuitable applicants, and successful ones go on to the next stage of interviews.


    A moving image on a computer screen which appears when there has been no screen activity for a specific time. Screensaver programs were originally used to prevent damage to the screen.

SD Card

    Secure Digital Card. A small memory card used in portable devices such as mobile phones, cameras, etc.

Sealed Bid

    A bid to buy an item, or a cost estimate for a contract, which is kept secret in a sealed envelope until all the bids have been received and are opened together.

Search Engine

    Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., are examples of Search Engines which locate, list and rank (according to various crietria and unknown algorithms) relevant websites and website content on the Internet when the user types in key words or phrases.

Seasonal Business

    Trade that is affected by seasonal factors, for example, trade in goods such as suntan products or Christmas trees.


    Variations in production or sales that occur at different but predictable times of the year.

Secondary Action

    A sympathy strike. Action which is taken by workers in one industry in support of striking workers in a separate but related industry.

Secondary Boycott

    An organised protest to prevent or persuade a company from doing business with another company which is involved in a dispute.

Secondary Industry

    An industry that uses basic raw materials to produce manufactured goods.

Secondary Product

    A product that has been processed from raw materials.

Secondary Research

    Also called Desk Research. The collating and analysis of existing data which has already been collected for another purpose often by an outside source.

Second Generation

    Term which describes an improved product, service, etc.


    The temporary transfer of a member of staff to another organization for a defined length of time, usually for a specific purpose. Secondment has grown in popularity in recent years, primarily for career development purposes. Secondments between the public and private sectors have been used as a mechanism to share management techniques and to disseminate best practice.


    A person who works for another person , usually in an office, dealing with correspondence, filing, phone calls and other clerical duties.

Secretary of the Board

    A senior employee in an organization with director status and administrative and legal authority. The appointment of a company secretary is a legal requirement for all limited companies. A company secretary can also be a board secretary with appropriate qualifications.

Security Deposit

    A sum a buyer pays, which is not usually refundable, to protect the seller if the buyer does not complete a transaction or if a rented item gets damaged.


    Money or assets set aside by a business in order to generate more profit or benefit in the future.


    Profit made by a government from printing and minting banknotes and coins. The profit being the difference between the cost of issuing the money and the face value of the money.

Selective Attention

    Term which applies to consumers who only notice, or are aware of, certain pieces of information in advertisements, etc., because that is the only part in which the consumer is interested.


    Term introduced by Kurt Goldstein in 1934, describing the need to realise one’s full potential, being a basic life force, and later re-interpreted and popularised by Abraham Maslow as the highest order of needs in his Hierarchy of Needs theory.


    A person who earns their income by operating their own business, rather than working for an employer and receiving a salary.


    The regulation of an industry by its own members, usually by means of a committee that issues guidance and sets standards that it then enforces.


    Financially independent. Being able to operate without the help of others.

Sell and Build

    An approach to manufacturing in which the producer creates a product only when a customer has placed an order and paid for it, rather than creating and stocking products that have not been ordered..

Semi-Fixed Cost

    The amount of money paid to produce a product, which increases, though less than proportionally, with the quantity of the product made.


    A business meeting for training purposes or for discussing ideas.


    Having or requiring some skills or special training to perform a job, such as operating machinery.

Semi-Structured Interview

    An informal method of research in which set questions are asked which allow other questions to be brought up as a result of the interviewees response.

Semi-Variable Cost

    The amount of money paid to produce a product, which increases, though less than proportionally, with the quantity of the product made.

Senior Management

    The managers and executives at the highest level of an organization. Senior management includes the board of directors. Senior management has responsibility for corporate governance, corporate strategy, and the interests of all the organization’s stakeholders.

Sensitivity Analysis

    Looks at the effects of the performance of a system, project, etc., by changing the variables, such as costs, sales, production, etc.

Sequential Sampling

    A sampling method in which an unfixed number of samples are tested and enough data is collected before a decision can be made.


    Keeping a jury in isolation, under close supervision and away from the public and media, during a trial.


    To legally confiscate someone’s property until a debt has been paid.

Serial Entrepreneur

    An entrepreneur who sets up a string of new ventures, one after the other.


    A computer which provides services, such as e-mail, file transfers, etc., to other computers connected to the network.

Service Economy

    Part of a country’s economy which provides services, such as banking, tourism, education, retail, etc., rather than manufacturing or production.

Service Contract

    A contract of employment for executive directors that lays down the conditions of employment and details of any bonus that may be paid, and outlines the procedure for ending employment.

Service Industry

    An industry that does not make products, but instead offers a service such as banking, insurance, or transport.

Service Level Agreement

    SLA. A contract, which can be legally binding, between a service supplier and a user, in which the terms of service are specified.


    Secure Electronic Transfer. A safe and confidential way of paying for goods which have been purchased over the Internet.

Ssetup Time

    The time it takes to prepare, calibrate, and test a piece of equipment to produce a required output.


    As separate individuals or entities, not jointly.


    Dismissal from employment because the job or worker is considered no longer necessary.

Severance Pay

    A payment made by an employer to an employee when the employee who has been dismissed or discharged leaves the organization.


    Discrimination and/or abusive behaviour towards member of the opposite sex.


    Sending sexually explicit messages and/or pictures by mobile phone.


    To be with someone in the workplace as they perform their job so that you can learn all about it.

Shadow Economy

    Also called Black Economy. Business activities, including illegal activities, which are carried out without government approval or regulations.

Shared Values

    The guiding principles of an organization, espoused by senior management, and accepted by employees, often reflected in the mission statement of the organization. Core values often influence the culture of an organization and are usually long-standing beliefs.


    Copyrighted computer software which is available for a free trial, after which a fee is usually charged if the user requires continued use and support.


    A dishonest business person who cheats and swindles others.

Shark Repellent

    Measures taken by a company, such as creating different voting rights concerning shares, or requiring certain shareholders to waive rights to capital gains resulting in a takeover, etc., in an attempt to keep a hostile bid from succeeding.

Sharp Practice

    Business methods that are not illegal but are not entirely open and honest.

Shelf Talker

    Also known as Shelf Screamer. A sign hung on the edge of a shelf in a shop to attract peoples attention to a product.

Shell Company

    A company that has ceased to trade but is still registered, especially one sold to enable the buyer to begin trading without having to establish a new company.


    To start a business or announce the startup of a new business.


    A very tight, barely adequate budget.

Shop Floor

    Workers, usually in a factory, as opposed to managers. The area in a factory where production of goods takes place.

Shopping Bot

    Also called Price Engine. Computer software which searches the Internet and compares prices from retailers for specific products.

Shop Price

    A price charged to customers who buy in limited quantities.

Shop Steward

    A member of a Trade Union, usually in a factory, who is elected to represent other members in meetings with management and personnel officers.


    Give too little change in a cash transaction, and metaphorically meaning to treat someone unfairly or dishonestly, deprive someone of something, or cheat, usually from a position of control or dominance.

Shoulder Season

    In the travel industry, the time between high and low season.


    A derogatory term for content which is put directly on to a web page, e.g. from a magazine, etc., without changing its appearance to make it suitable for the Internet. Also refers to pre-installed programs on some computers, which have little value to the user.


    An approach to business that concentrates on short-term results rather than long-term objectives.


    Emerging in the popular media in 2012 the term ‘showrooming’ refers to the 21st century practice of shoppers visiting retail stores to inspect/handle/assess products, especially electronic/technology equipment and gadgets, which the shoppers (quite intentionally as part of a buying method) subsequently purchase online, thereby achieving a lower price than offered by the retail store.

    Increasingly shoppers are able to use smartphones to scan or otherwise check/confirm/record precise product types/codes, etc. On a wide scale, in certain product sectors, the practice undermines the retail store business model, through stock wear/damage, wasted staff time, etc., although product susceptibility varies greatly.

    Some products, e.g., standardized mass-market goods, are hugely prone, whereas others, e.g., high quality musical instruments and jewellery, hardly at all.The behaviour is extremely common and part of a significantly and globally changing retailing economic system. Showrooming is a factor driving retail exclusivity deals, and notably ‘dark store’ strategy and development, in which collection warehouses are replacing conventional retail outlets.

Show Stopper

    A measure taken by a company to avoid a hostile takeover, for example, the purchase of a business interest that will make the company unattractive to the potential buyer..


    1. A reduction in the amount of inventory held by a company, often caused by production processes.
    2. A term used to describe goods that leave a retail outlet but are not logged as sales. Shrinkage can include goods that are stolen by shoplifters, or are damaged or broken.


    Latin for ‘thus; in such a manner’, used when quoting a passage to show that the original spelling or grammar, typically incorrect, has been retained.

Sick Building Syndrome

    SBS. Ailments, such as headaches, fatigue, nose and throat irritations, etc., experienced by workers or residents in certain buildings, often believed to be caused by poor ventilation, air conditioning, heating, cleaning chemicals, or the materials from which the building has been made.


    A type of organised strike in which the employees refuse to work by staying away from the workplace and claiming they are ill.


    Special Interest Group. On the Internet, a place where people can discuss and exchange information about a particular subject. A group or organisation whose aim is to influence political decisions by trying to persuade government officials to act or vote in the group’s interest.

Sight Unseen

    To buy something which has not been available for inspection before the purchase.


    A person who signs a contract or other legal document.

Silent Partner

    A person or organization that invests money in a company but takes no active part in the management of the business. Although silent partners are inactive in the operation of the business, they have legal obligations and benefits of ownership, and are therefore fully liable for any debts.

Silicon Alley

    An area in Manhattan, New York, which is known for its Internet and multi-media companies.

Silicon Valley

    An area south of San Francisco, California, which is noted for its computer and high-technology industries.

Silver Bullet

    A simple extremely effective solution to a very challenging and serious problem. A metaphor alluding to the mythical method of killing a werewolf or similar monster. See also Magic Bullet, which basically means the same.

Silver Surfer

    An older person who uses the Internet.

SIM Card

    From the full meaning, Subscriber Identification/Identity Module. A small removable card which stores personal information on a mobile phone or other small personal computerized device. There are other less serious interpretations of the SIM acronym.


    The construction of a mathematical model to imitate the behavior of a real-world situation or system in order to test the outcomes of alternative courses of action. Simulation techniques are used in situations where real-life experimentation would be impossible, costly, or dangerous, and for training purposes.

Simultaneous Engineering

    A team-based cooperative approach to product design and development, in which all parties are involved in new product development work in parallel. Simultaneous engineering reduces or removes the time lag between the different stages of a product’s development, and earlier entry into a market is therefore possible. Product quality is improved, development and product costs are minimized, and competitiveness is increased.


    A job or position which involves little or no work, but for a which a person is paid.

Sister Company

    A company that belongs to the same group of companies as another.

Six Sigma

    A business strategy, originally developed by Motorola, which strives for perfection in production and quality. See Six Sigma.

Six Thinking Hats

    Group dynamics and decision-making concept devised by Dr Edward De Bono, from the book so named, based on De Bono’s theory of how people look at things/situations from different perspectives.

Size of Firm

    A method of categorizing companies according to size for the purposes of government statistics. Divisions are typically microbusiness, small business, medium-sized business, and large-sized business.

Six Sigma

    Originally developed in 1986 by Motorola, the business management strategy is now used in many different industries in an effort to improve the quality of products or services produced by the business through the removal of defects and errors. The strategy involves creating groups of people within the business or organization who have expert status in various methods, and then each project is carried out according to a set of steps in an effort to reach specific financial milestones. A six sigma process is defined as one in which 99.99966% of products created are expected to be statistically free from defects.


    The unethical and usually illegal practice of taking small amounts of money from accounts that belong to other individuals or organizations.


    Stock Keeping Unit. A unique number which identifies the price, size, manufacturer, etc., which is assigned to a product by a retail store.


    A production development program in a company which has the freedom to work outside the usual rules, without the restrictions of company procedures and policies.


    Something, such as a film, book, share, etc., in which there is little interest but suddenly becomes a success.

Sleeping Partner

    Also called Silent Partner. A person who has invested capital in a company but does not take an active part in managing or running it.


    A catch-phrase used in advertising which is easy to remember so it is associated with a product or company when people hear or see it.

Slush Fund

    Also called Slush Money. Funds which are raised and set aside for dishonest or illegal purposes, e.g., for bribing government officials.

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise

    An organization that is in the startup or growth phase of development and has fewer than 250 employees.

Small Print

    Details in an official document such as a contract that are usually printed in a smaller size than the rest of the text and, while often important, may be overlooked. Items often referred to as “small print” may include deliberately hidden charges, unfavorable terms, or loopholes.

Smoke And Mirrors

    Term based on a magician’s illusions. To cover something up by drawing attention away from it.


    Short Message Service. Allows a text message to be sent from one mobile phone to another.


    Someone who passes money obtained illegally through banks or businesses in order to make it appear legitimate.

Snail Mail

    Mail which is delivered in the traditional way by postal service, rather than e-mail.


    Humorous term describing the transfer of electronic information, such as computer files, by physically taking the disk, cd, etc., from one computer to another.

Social Business

    A business whose main objective is to make positive social change in areas such as poverty, education, health, the environment, etc.

Social Enterprise

    A business chiefly having positive social and/or environmental aims, in which community and staff tend to feature strongly in priorities, and where profit is a means towards social, environmental or community purposes rather being an aim itself for the enrichment of owners or shareholders.

Social Networking

    On the Internet, online communities which are built for people who share interests and activities, or to make and/or contact friends and family, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc. The practice of making business and/or social contacts through other people.


    A belief that a country’s wealth should be distributed equally among its population, and to varying extent also that its industries should be under government ownership and control.

Socio-Economic Grouping

    The process if identifying and dividing people into groups according to their social, economic and/or educational status.

Sod’s Law

    The principle that if something can go wrong, it will.

Soft Opening

    Refers to the practice of a business opening before its actual grand opening date to test its operations. By doing this, business owners can diagnose and correct any problems they might have with their operations without enduring the scrutiny that might accompany a grand opening. In some industries, a soft opening is required by law or industry officials before the business can proceed further. Even when not required, such an opening may be beneficial as a means of working out any kinks in the business before inviting a large segment of the public to the establishment.

Soft Sell

    A subtle, persuasive way of selling a product or service, as opposed to Hard Selling.


    A general term for programs, etc., used to operate computers.

Soldier Of Fortune

    A mercenary. A person, sometimes ex-military, who is hired to work for another person or country. A freelance fighter.

Sole Agency

    An agreement to be the only person to represent a company or to sell a product in a particular area.

Sole Distributor

    A retailer who is the only one in an area who is allowed by the manufacturer to sell a specific product or service.

Sole Practitioner

    The proprietor of a professional practice, who is personally responsible for all its debts.

Sole Proprietor

    Somebody who owns and runs an unincorporated business by himself or herself. Sole proprietors are taxed at the personal income level and are personally liable for all business losses or debts; in the event of bankruptcy personal possessions may be forfeited.

Sole Trader

    Also called Sole Proprietor. A business which is owned and managed by one person who is responsible for any debts which are incurred, keeping their own accounts, etc.

Sort Code

    A number which is assigned to a branch of a bank, found on cheques, bank statements, etc., which enables that particular bank’s address to be identified.


    Unsolicited e-mail which is sent to numerous recipients.


    To be highly skilled in a particular branch of a profession, occupation, activity, etc. Developed or adapted for a particular job or task.

Special Resolution

    In business, a resolution which must be passed by a high majority of a company’s shareholders, often 75%, as opposed to an ordinary resolution, which only requires more than 50% of the the vote.

Specimen Signature

    An example of a person’s signature required by a bank, etc., so that it can be compared with the same person’s signature on cheques and documents.

Spider Food

    Key words or phrases which are placed, usually invisibly, on a web page in order to attract search engines.


    A commission paid by a manufacturer or supplier to encourage salespeople to sell their product rather than a competitors.


    The presentation of news/reports/information by politicians, business-people, etc., (typically cynically, dishonestly, unethically) in a highly positive way, or in a way designed to support a particular position. The term derives from the sense of putting a ‘spin’ on a story, so as to distort the truth to suit a particular purpose. This entail the use of euphemisms (unreasonably optimistic interpretations) in referring to one’s own performance/effects, and dysphemisms (unreasonably negative interpretations) in referring to critics and competitors and their actions, effects, etc.

Spin Doctor

    A public relations official or press/media spokesperson, in government or corporate work.


    A company or subsidiary formed by splitting away from a parent company. A spin-off company can, for example, be created when research and development yields a new product that does not fit into the company’s current portfolio, or when a company wants to explore a new venture related to its current activities. It can also be formed from a demerger, in which acquired companies or parts of a business are separated in order to create a more streamlined parent organization. A spin-off is often entrepreneurial in spirit, but the backing of the parent company can provide financial stability.


    A company or individual who helps to support, usually financially, a team, an event, such as a sports meeting or concert, etc., in return for publicity or to advertise their own company or product.

Spot Check

    A random inspection or examination, often with no warning, of a sample of goods or work performance to check for quality.


    On a computer, a program used for entering, calculating and storing financial or numerical data.


    A situation in which there is a slow economic growth along with high inflation and high unemployment.

Standing Room Only

    A sales technique in which a company or individual selling a product gives the impression that many people wish to buy the product, encouraging people to purchase it immediately in case it sells out and they don’t get another chance.

State Of The Art

    The highest level of development and/or technology applied to a product or service which is currently available.

Stealth Marketing

    Also known as Buzz Marketing. A method of advertising a product where customers don’t realise they are being persuaded to buy something, e.g., people recommending a product on Internet Chat Forums, without others realising that the person actually works for the company or manufacturer selling the product.

Steering Committee

    Also called Steering Group. A group of people who are responsible for monitoring a company’s operations or project progress, by ensuring it complies with company policies, resources and costs are approved, etc.


    A shorthand typist. From Greek: Stenos (narrow) and Graphie (writing)


    1.General: Erroneous, relatively fixed, simplistic, and mostly negative generalization (based commonly on bigotry, ignorance, and prejudice) held to be true about certain individuals or groups.

    2. Lacking individuality or originality, stale.

    3.Printing: Metal printing plate cast from a paper matrix for use on letter presses. Stereotype is Greek for, solid; hence, fixed or unchangeable.


    Latin for ‘let it stand’, a term from printing, which extends to proof-reading and copy-checking, editing, etc., to indicate that a word or section marked for deletion (crossed through) within a document or other media is to be retained.


    Also called Longshoreman. A person who works on the docks, loading and unloading cargo.


    A fixed, often modest, payment, usually made on a regular basis, to someone, e.g. an apprentice, for living expenses during a training period.

Stockholm Syndrome

    The effect in which hostage victims form emotional attachment or fondness towards their captors. The Syndrome is named after the 1973 ‘Norrmalmstorg Robbery’ – an armed raid on Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, Sweden. The bank’s employees were held hostage from 23-28 August, during which time some of the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, even defending them after being freed.

    The term Stockholm Syndrome was first used by criminologist/psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, when assisting police during the siege, referring to the Syndrome in a news broadcast. It was defined in more detail by psychiatrist Frank Ochberg to aid the management of hostage situations.

    While Stockholm Syndrome chiefly and originally refers to hostage situations the term extends to other forms of ‘traumatic bonding’, not necessarily dependent on a hostage situation, more broadly describing the somewhat counter-intuitive tendency among certain folk for strong emotional connections to develop within an abusive relationship. At a slightly milder but nevertheless still very worrying level we see the same principle extending to abusive employment situations and other ‘working’ relationships, where badly-treated and exploited workers can develop strangely positive feelings towards abusive bosses/employers.

    Whether driven by fear, dependence, gratitude (for limiting the level of abuse), survival impulse, or various other possible factors, the Stockholm Syndrome remains puzzling and paradoxical at any level, and yet a very real human tendency in certain situations.


    The process of listing all the items, materials or goods which a shop, company, etc., has in stock. An inventory of merchandise.


    Situations or models containing a random element, hence unpredictable and without a stable pattern or order. All natural events are stochastic phenomenon. And businesses and open economies are stochastic systems because their internal environments are affected by random events in the external environment.

Straight Rebuy

    When a business or individual orders the same goods, in the same quantity from the same supplier.


    A subheading in a newspaper or magazine. A slogan attached to a well known brand.

Strategic Analysis

    The process of evaluating the business environment within which an organization operates and the organization itself as part of a process of formulating long-term objectives.

Strategic Business Unit

    A division within a large organization that shares the organization’s market and customer focus but has responsibility for the development of its own marketing strategy. A single overall strategic approach is often inappropriate in large diversified organizations or multinational companies.

Strategic Industry

    An industry which is considered essential to the economy of a region or country.

Strategic Management

    The process of predicting and assessing a company’s opportunities and difficulties, and making decisions so the company can achieve its objectives and gain a competitive advantage.


    A planned course of action undertaken to achieve the goals and objectives of an organization. The overall strategy of an organization is known as corporate strategy, but strategy may also be developed for any aspect of an organization’s activities such as environmental management or manufacturing strategy.


    1. Classification of a mass of data (obtained from research or survey) into categories and sub-categories on the basis of one or more chosen criteria.

    2. Hierarchical arrangement of a society into different layers (strata) on the basis of a distinguishing characteristic such as age, gender, life style, race, status.

Stress/Stress Management

    Area of study and corporate/employer responsibility relating to workers’ health, well-being, productivity. See stress management.

Stress Puppy

    A person who seems to thrive on stress, but is always complaining about it.


    A work stoppage caused by a disagreement between employees and management over working conditions, pay etc.


    A person who continues to work, or is employed to work, during a strike.

Structural Engineer

    A professional who researches, plans and designs structures, such as buildings, bridges, etc..


    To hire someone to carry out some of the work that you have been contracted to do.


    The delegation to a third party of some or all of the work that somebody has contracted to do. Subcontracting usually occurs where the contracted work such as the construction of a building requires a variety of skills. Responsibility for the fulfillment of the original contract remains with the original contracting party. Where the fulfillment of a contract depends on the skills of the person who has entered into the contract, as in the painting of a portrait, then the work cannot be subcontracted to a third party. The term subcontracting is sometimes used to describe outsourcing arrangements.

Sub Judice

    Term used when a legal case is currently under trial or is being considered by a judge, and any information about the case must not be disclosed to the public.


    Someone who is lower in rank than another person, and is subject to the authority of a manager, etc. Less important.

Subliminal Advertising

    An illegal form of advertising. An image which is flashed onto a screen, usually for about one second, or a message played at low volume, that can influence the person watching or listening but they are not aware of what they have seen and/or heard.


    An official summons which requires a witness to attend a court case and testify at a specific time and place. Failure to do so may result in them being punished for contempt of court.


    The right of an insurer, who has paid out a claim to an injured party, to sue the person, company, etc., who caused the injury.


    A company that is controlled by another. A subsidiary operates under the control of a parent or holding company, which may have a majority on the subsidiary’s board of directors, or a majority shareholding in the subsidiary-giving it majority voting rights-or it may be named in a contract as having control of the subsidiary. If all of the stock in a company is owned by its parent, it is known as a wholly-owned subsidiary. A subsidiary that is located in a different country from the parent is a foreign subsidiary.

Succession Planning

    The process of identifying suitable employees who can be trained and prepared to replace senior staff when their positions become vacant.

Suggested Retail Price

    The price at which a manufacturer suggests a product should be sold on the retail market, though this may be reduced by the retailer.


    A business executive who works for a large corporation, especially in a relatively faceless management role.


    An official document which orders a person to appear in court to answer a complaint against them.

Sunk Cost

    A company’s past expenditures which cannot be recovered, and should not be taken into account when planning future projects.

Sunset Provision

    Also called Sunset Clause. A provision which states that a particular law or regulation will expire on a certain date unless further action is taken to extend it.


    A pension, for which regular sums are deducted from a person’s salary while they are working, which is paid by an employer when the person retires from their job.


    Also called Surtax. An additional tax on something already taxed, e.g. an income above a certain level.


    A company that provides materials, components, goods, or services for another company.

Supply And Demand

    Supply is the amount of a product or service which is available, and demand is the amount which people wish to buy. When demand is higher than supply prices usually rise, when demand is less than supply prices usually fall.

Supply Chain

    A chain through which a product passes from raw materials to manufacturing, distribution, retailing, etc., until it reaches the end consumer.

Supply Chain Management

    The management of the movement of goods and flow of information between an organization and its suppliers and customers, to achieve strategic advantage. Supply chain management covers the processes of managing materials, physical distribution, purchasing, information, and logistics.

Supply Price

    The price at which goods or services are supplied.


    A charge added to the standard charge for a specific product or service.

Surface Mail

    Mail which is transported over land or sea, not by air.

Surplus Capacity

    The capability of a factory or workstation to produce output over and above the level required by consumers or subsequent processes. Surplus capacity is a product of materials, personnel, and equipment that are superfluous, or not working to maximum capacity. Some surplus capacity is required in any production system to deal with fluctuations in demand, and as a backup in case of failure. Excessive surplus capacity, however, adds to the cost of the production process as work-in-process inventory or finished-goods storage increases, and can result in overcapacity. If a workstation has no surplus capacity its workloads cannot be increased, so it is at risk of becoming a bottleneck.

Sustainable Advantage

    A competitive advantage that can be maintained over the long term, as opposed to one resulting from a short-term tactical promotion.


    1. Temporary deprivation or interruption of position, power, and/or privilege.

    2. Stage in disciplinary process where an employee is removed (with or without pay) from his or her job for a certain time.

Sweat Equity

    Term used to describe a person’s investment in a project, etc., by the contribution of their time and effort, rather than their money.


    A place, often a clothing factory, where people work long hours in poor conditions for low wages.

Sweetheart Deal

    An agreement or contract which offers very favourable deals to one or both parties, but is often not in the best interest of others, such as shareholders.

SWOT Analysis

    An assessment of the "Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats" in an organization. SWOT analysis is used in the early stages of strategic and marketing planning, in problem solving and decision making, or for making staff aware of the need for change. It can be used at a personal level when determining possible career development.


    A servile person or follower, not necessarily of low rank, who tries to please a (more) powerful or influential person by using flattery, and often by informing on others, from which the word is derived in its original Greek meaning (sykophantes is ancient Greek for informer).


    Type of formal-logic argument in which only three sentences (called Propositions) are employed: (1) the major premise asserts a general relationship, (2) the minor premise asserts something about a specific case, and (3) the conclusion follows (is deduced from) the two premises.


    A meeting or conference at which experts discuss a particular topic, often with audience participation.


    1. A group of people or companies that come together for a specific business activity, especially when they jointly contribute capital to a project.

    2. To agree to distribute an article, a cartoon, a television show, or other work to several different outlets, publications, or broadcasting companies.


    The working together of two or more individuals, groups, companies, etc., to produce a greater effect than working individually.


    A church council or leadership assembly of clergy, also possibly including the laity (‘lay-ity’, meaning lay or non-professional members). The term ‘The Synod’ typically applies to the most senior council of a church, or less definitively may refer to a local diocese or church division. In English prior to 1121 (Chambers says) the word was ‘synoth’, and derives from Greek via Latin, synodos and synodus meaning a meeting or assembly, or conjunction of the planets, from Greek syn, together, and hodos, way.


    Brief condensation, outline, or summary of the main points of an articles, book, or plan. Unlike an abstract, a synopsis maintains the point by point sequence of the salient ideas.


    1. A set of detailed methods, procedures and routines created to carry out a specific activity, perform a duty, or solve a problem.

    2. An organized, purposeful structure that consists of interrelated and interdependent elements (components, entities, factors, members, parts etc.). These elements continually influence one another (directly or indirectly) to maintain their activity and the existence of the system, in order to achieve the goal of the system.

    All systems have (a) inputs, outputs and feedback mechanisms, (b) maintain an internal steady-state (called homeostasis) despite a changing external environment, (c) display properties that are different than the whole (called emergent properties) but are not possessed by any of the individual elements, and (d) have boundaries that are usually defined by the system observer.

Systems Analysis

    The examination and evaluation of an operation or task in order to identify and implement more efficient methods, usually through the use of computers. Systems analysis can be broken down into three main areas: the production of a statement of objectives; determination of the best methods of achieving these objectives in a cost-effective and efficient way; and the preparation of a feasibility study.

Systems Approach

    A technique employed for organizational decision making and problem solving involving the use of computer systems. The systems approach uses systems analysis to examine the extent to which a system’s components are interrelated and interdependent. When working together, these components produce an effect greater than the sum of the parts. System components might comprise departments or functions of an organization or business which work together for an overall objective.

Systems Audit

    An approach to auditing that utilizes a systems approach. By using a systems audit to assess the internal control system of an organization, it is possible to assess the quality of the accounting system and the level of testing required from the financial statements. One shortcoming of systems audit is that it does not consider audit risk.