What are the top 100 business studies words?

This is the second and final chapter about English for Business Studies. To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.   

– Introduce the 100 frequent and challenging Business Studies subject-specific vocabulary items

– Review the IPA to improve pronunciation and the word forms to expand vocabulary

– Read the definitions and examples to assist with meaning

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Chapter 2

If you’re majoring in International Business (IB), Business Studies or a similarly named discipline at an English-speaking university, the following list of 100 subject-specific words should be very useful. This list has been compiled by studying the frequency and difficulty of business vocabulary across its most commonly studied areas: the more frequently used and/or challenging a word is, the more likely it is to have made it onto this list. Study the words in bold carefully, practise pronouncing them using the /IPA/ and pay attention to their [word forms] also. We’ve included an example sentence to help you understand the word’s meaning; you may wish to write your own example sentences too to practice using this subject-specific vocabulary in context.

1. Agenda /əˈdʒen.də/ the decided intentions of an organisation

“It was always the agenda of the CEO to motivate staff with financial incentives.”

2. Agile /ˈædʒ.aɪl/ [agility] the ability to think, act or adapt quickly to a new situation or demand

“It’s  increasingly essential in the international market to build an agile, rather than rigid, workforce.”

3. Altruism /ˈæl.tru.ɪ.zəm/ [altruist/altruistic] adopting a behaviour or attitude which places the needs and care of others first without any personal gain

“It is quite uncommon to find true examples of altruism in the business world.”

4. Assets /ˈæs.ets/ a company’s items, skills or knowledge that has earning power (value)

“A company will likely have a number of assets such as investments, cash and specialist knowledge.”

5. Automation /ˌɔː.təˈmeɪ.ʃən/ [automate/automated] the replacement of manual jobs with machines

“One of the biggest and continued challenges of modern economics is overcoming the loss of jobs through automation.

6. Bankrupt /bæŋ.krʌpt/ [bankruptcy] when a company or individual is not able to repay what they owe “Due to a lack of risk assessment and misguided investments, the company suffered substantial loss and was declared bankrupt by the court of law.”

7. Barter/ˈbɑː.tər/ exchanging goods or services with the absence of money

“In the 2019 trade deal the lithium company bartered 1% of their raw materials for 300  deep drills.”

9. Branch /brɑːntʃ/ one of multiple stores or offices or parts of an organisation

“In one year the company went from four branches in China to twenty-four globally.”

9. Brand /brænd/ [branding] the particular name and connotations associated with a product

“When considering marketing a global brand, one must consider the cultural distinctions and preferences of each nation.”

10. Bond /bɒnd/ A bond represents a type of loan between an issuer (borrower) and holder (lender)

Bonds can be traded as assets and are most commonly fixed incomes instruments, that is they provide a return to the holder in the form of periodic interest rates.”

11. Borrow /ˈbɒr.əʊ/ [borrower] taking money from a financial organisation with the plan to return the full amount, usually, with added interest

“When borrowing from a bank  a company needs to consider the difference between loan types.”

12. Capital /ˈkæp.ɪ.təl/ [capitalism] any financial resource that a company has to fund its operation

“There are various ways a firm may raise capital, but in the long-term they can look to shares and bonds.”

13. Cash flow /kæʃ fləʊ/ the total amount of cash or cash-equivalent going into and out of a business

“It is essential for an organisation to keep detailed cash flow records to realise quickly when there is negative cash flow – when more money is coming out of a company than is being received.”

14. Centralisation /ˌsen.trə.laɪ.ˈzeɪ.ʃən/ [centralise] the act of an organisation or group concentrating their control or authority to one place

“When working in a centralised organisational structure, an employee will find all decision making takes place at the head office and at senior-staff levels.”

15. Commercial /kəˈmɜː.ʃəl/ [commerce/commercially] a business activity that involves the exchange of services or goods with the aim to make profit

“It is important for a company to determine if their product is commercially viable before investing too much capital into it.”

16. Competitor /kəmˈpet.ɪ.tər/ [compete/competition] a company that offers a similar service or product in the same market

“One common rule in business is to provide a service or product at either a lower price or higher quality than the main competitors.”

17. Consensuses /kənˈsen.səs/ [consensual] the commonly agreed upon decision

“The consensus in most firms is to offer a range of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards to motivate staff.”

18. Consumer/kənˈsjuː.mər/ [consumerism/ consumerist] a person who purchases something

“Companies can spend significant money on researching the consumers in their target market.”

19. Corporate governance /ˈkɔː.pər.ət ɡʌv.ən.əns/ the way in which the rules and practices of a company are directed and controlled

“To ensure the successful corporate governance of a company, a board of directors is usually appointed.”

20. Currency /ˈkʌr.ən.si/ the system of money in place in a country that is the accepted default to exchange goods and services

“International organisations may trade in a variety of currencies depending on favourable exchange rates or local restrictions.”

21. Data comparability /ˈdeɪ.tə kɒmp(ə)rəˈbɪlɪti/ an analytical term that refers to data that is known to be of quality and can therefore be applied alongside other quality data to help with decision making

“If governmental or non-profit organisations wanted to truly collaborate and reduce expenses, then ensuring their studies followed quality methodological approaches would increase data comparability.”

22. Depreciation /dɪˌpriːʃɪˈeɪʃ(ə)n/ [depreciate] a decline in the cost or value of something over time

“It is necessary to take into account the predicted depreciation of all assets to properly calculate annual growth and company value.”

23. Economics /ˌiː.kəˈnɒm.ɪks/ [economy/economists] the scientific exploration of how different economies behave and function

Economics is a complex discipline which tries to explain and predict aspects of production, supply and demand, along with understanding currencies and inflation.”

24. Elastic /ɪˈlæstɪk/ [elasticity] the degree to which the behaviour of sellers or buyers changes as a result of a change to the price of products and/or services or income.

“If a slight decrease in the price causes a significant increase in consumer purchases, the product is considered highly elastic.”

25. Embargo /mˈbɑː.ɡəʊ/ a legal blockade to prevent trading of a resource, product or service

“The US has sanctioned a number of embargos on South American countries to prevent them from trading with the US.”

26. Entrepreneur /ˌɒn.trə.prəˈnɜːr/ [entrepreneurship/entrepreneurial] a person who starts their own business or who attempts to a number of times

“While many entrepreneurs have innovate ideas, they often lack the start-up capital to turn these ideas into a viable business.”

27. Ethics /ˈeθ·ɪks/ [ethical] the moral beliefs and practices of an individual, culture or society

“In the twenty-first century, business ethics is now taught in business programmes to avoid the exploitation of workers and resources.”

​ 28. Ethnocentric /ˌeθ.nəʊˈsen.trɪk/ the belief that one’s own culture, customs and ethnicity are superior

“To avoid ethnocentrism in an international economy, it is essential for a global company to understand, respect and adapt to differing organisational practices.”

29. Exchange rate / ɪksˈtʃeɪndʒ ˌreɪ / the value at which one currency can be converted to another

Exchange rates can greatly impact when to trade goods and services internationally.”

30. Export /ɪkˈspɔːt/ [exporter/exportation] to sell products or services to another country

“Cosmetics are quickly becoming one of South Korea’s most profitable exports.”

31. Fair trade /feə ˈtreɪd/ an agreement aimed at developing nations in which the company selling a product ensure that those who work to produce it are guaranteed fair working conditions and wages

“It is vital that consumers try to seek fair-trade companies wherever possible.”

32. Factor cost /ˈfæk.tər kɒst/ the total amount a product costs to produce

“The factor cost to produce a product doesn’t necessarily reflect the market price of that product in another economy.”

33. Fiscal Policy /ˈfɪs.kəl pɒl.ə.si / the way in which a governments decide to collect and spend revenue (such as through taxes) to influence the economy

“A poorly constructed fiscal policy could lead a country into severe economic hardship.”

34. Forecast /ˈfɔː.kɑːst/ the prediction of an event based on existing data

“The treasury has an optimistic growth forecast for the economy this year, claiming it will reach 6.2% by November.”

35. Geocentric ˈ/ˌdʒiː.əʊˈsen.trɪk./ the belief that there are common forms of communication and behaviour across all cultures

“In hiring, a geocentric approach means looking for talent internationally, irrespective of nationality.”

36. Globalisation/ˈ/ˌdʒiː.əʊˈsen.trɪk/ [global/globalised] the increasing cooperation of countries to work together to develop strong economic and cultural relations

“It is argued that the new era of commerce is a cause of globalisation rather than an outcome.”

37. Gross income/ɡrəʊs ɪŋ.kʌm/ the amount earned before deductions

“The gross income is the amount earned from selling a product or service before deducting expenses, such as salaries, taxes and overhands.”

38. Human Capital /ˈhjuː.mənˈ kæp.ɪ.təl/ the skills and knowledge of an individual that makes them valuable as an employee

“The importance of human capital shouldn’t be underestimated because if a company wishes to succeed, they must consider the value of expertise, intelligence and commitment.”

39. Human resource /ˈhjuː.mənˈrɪˈzɔːs/ the department within any organisation that is responsible for finding, recruiting and training employees and taking care of any of their associated benefits

“It is considered critical for an organisation to have a well-appointed human resource department as they determine and support the opportunities for professional development and training.”

40. Hyperinflation / haɪ.pə.rɪnˈfleɪʃ.ən/ the very rapid increase of the price of goods and services that, as a result, cause a devaluing of a country’s currency

“A number of governments have caused hyperinflation by over printing their currency and disrupting the local economy.”

41. Import /ɪmˈpɔːt/ [importation/importer] the buying of goods or services from outside of one’s country

The United Kingdom relies on imported produce to stock their supermarkets.”

42.. Incumbent /ɪnˈkʌm.bənt/ a person often in a position of leadership in a company that holds a dominant market share and/or significant duties as part of their role

“A CEO is sometime referred to as an incumbent of the organisation.”

43.  Inelastic /ˌɪn.ɪˈlæs.tɪk/ when the price of product has little impact on supply or demand

“It has been found that even a 20% decrease in the price of bread doesn’t create a notable impact on local demand, making this product inelastic.” 

44.. Inflation /ɪnˈfleɪ.ʃən/ the expected and steady increase in the average price of goods

“One direct impact of annual inflation is the increase in the cost of living.”

45. Infrastructure /ˈɪn.frəˌstrʌk.tʃər/ the base structure or systems that need to be in place for an organisation or society to function

“A business requires an infrastructure built of carefully appointed employees to support various levels of an operation.”

46. Interest /ɪn.trəst/ money that is added to a loan amount by a lender

“Start-up companies historically turned to banks for their venture capital, but due to harsh interest rates, it is now more common to look for alternative investors.”

47. Investment /ɪnˈvest.mənt/ [invest/investor] either placing money into a business or buying bonds, shares or stocks in one

“One option for a long-term investment are shares in a steady but secure enterprise.”

48. Invoice /ˈɪn.vɔɪs / a time-stamped statement that documents items sold and to what value

“It is assumed that once an invoice is issued, payment will be prompt.”

49. Labour/ˈleɪ.bər/ [labourer] the physical and mental input required to produce a product or service

“The number of adults in a population is how we can measure the labour force of a nation.”

50. Liability /laɪ.əˈbɪl.ə.ti/ in accounting, any monetary payable obligations of a company

“A big organisation considers wages, loans and some debts as a liability.”

51. Liquid asset /ˈlɪk.wɪd ˈæs.et/ anything in a company that can quickly be turned into money with little loss in value

“Another common name for liquid assets is quick assets.

52. Left-Wing /ˌleft ˈwɪŋ/ relating to the idea that wealth and power should be shared between all parts of society, as is aligned with the political left

“During political campaigns it is common to see certain organisations align with left-wing parties that represent their target market.”

53.. Marginal cost / mɑː.dʒɪ.nəl kɒst/ the amount it would cost to produce an additional item once breaking even on the production run of the initial batch

“Once the marginal cost is considered minimal, a company can expand their production numbers.”

54. Market /ˈmɑː.kɪt/ the amount of buyers and sellers in a specified region

“One of the most challenging markets for an international firm to succeed in is China.”

55.  Market forces /mɑː.kɪt fɔːsɪz/ the economic power of sellers and buyers to influence the price of goods and service

“The value of most commodities is determined by market forces rather than governments.”

56. Medium /ˈmiː.di.əm/ a technology or third-party through which a message is conveyed

“It is common to hear of companies debating which medium is the most effective to advertise their products or services.”

57. Mercantile /ˈmɜː.kən.taɪl/ related to business and trade

“Societies have become increasingly mercantile as the centuries progressed.”

58. Meritocracy /ˌmer.ɪˈtɒk.rə.si/ [merit/meritocratic] a social system or organisation in which people obtain power and success because of their abilities rather than money or social position

“Do we live in a democracy, a plutocracy or a meritocracy?”

59. Monopoly /məˈnɒp.əl.i/ an organisation that has almost total dominance in a market

“It is possible for governments to retain a monopoly over certain domestic markets.” 

60. Nation /ˈneɪ.ʃən/ [national/nationalist/nationalism ] a large group of people living in one area with their own government, language, traditions, etc, also known as a country

“Understanding the traditions and preferences of each nation can be advantageous in international business.”

61. Nationalisation /ˌnæʃ.ən.əl.aɪˈzeɪ.ʃən / when ownership of an industry or commerce is moved from being privately to government owned

“In order to control a country’s most vital resources, it is common to see the nationalisation of electrical and water companies.”

62. Null and void /ˌnʌl ənd ˈvɔɪd / to have no legal value or effect

“The court ruled the contract null and void due to unlawful recruitment practices.”

63. Organisational Design /ˌɔː.ɡən.aɪˈzeɪ.ʃən.əl dɪˈzaɪn/ the intentional planning to create defined roles, levels of authority and processes and procedures to achieve a company’s goals

Organisational design is almost synonymous with organisational structure and has attracted much research over the last half a century.”

64. Output /aʊt.pʊt/ the amount of goods, services or waste that is produced in a given time by an individual worker or whole organisation, industry or economy

“To maximise labour output requires management to consider worker motivations.”

65. Outsourcing /ˈaʊtˌsɔː.sɪŋ/ [outsource/outsourced] the act of employing a third-party business or induvial to complete an aspect of an organisation’s tasks

It may be more cost effective to outsource to an already established company than train existing staff.”

66. Ownership /ˈəʊ.nə.ʃɪp/ [owner] a legally recognised claim to owning an asset, title or property

Ownership is not subjective, but in business it is supported by law.”

67. Phenomenon /fəˈnɒm.ɪ.nən/ [phenomena/phenomenal] something that exists and can be sensed, particularly something interesting or out of the ordinary

“On occasion a phenomenon occurs in the market and consumer behaviour is very unpredictable.”

68. Pragmatism /ˈpræɡ.mə.tɪ.zəm/ [pragmatic/pragmatist] dealing with a problem in a sensible way, rather than following fixed ideas, theories or rules

“While an organisation may have ideal successes in mind, at times it must be pragmatic and consider what its failings are and how to move forward based on those.”

69. Privatisation /ˌpraɪ.və.taɪˈzeɪ.ʃən/ [private/privatised] the act of selling industries or services that were previously owned by the government to private corporations

“Services have become increasingly privatised in the UK over recent years.”

70. Profit /ˈprɒf.ɪt / [profitable] money earned through a business venture once all other expenses have been paid

“First-time entrepreneurs often forget to calculate all costs that will be incurred when estimating a business’s potential profit.”

71. Promotion /prəˈməʊ.ʃən/ [promote/promotable] to rise in title and responsibility in a company

“One way to  motivate employees is to have clear guidelines and opportunities for promotion.”

72. Prosperity /prɒsˈper.ə.ti/ [prosper/prosperous] being successful and having a lot of money

“The prosperity of a company is usually a measure of its success.”

73. Rationality /æʃ.ənˈæl.ə.ti/ [rational] making choices based on the belief that the outcome is what you want to happen the most

“Rather than simply the act of being sensible, rationality in business refers more to making a decision based on what you think is best for your particular situation or desires.”

74. Recession /rɪˈseʃ.ən/ [recede] an economic contraction when demand declines for various businesses and there is negative economic growth

“While a country may sustain a minor decline in GDP growth, if it sustains for half a year the government may declare it an official recession and a country can expect times of economic hardship.”

75. Reciprocal /rɪˈsɪp.rə.kəl/ [reciprocate/reciprocity] two groups behaving in the same way or agreeing to assist each other and give each other a particular advantage

“The two embassies managed to negotiate reciprocal arrangements.”

76. Region /ˈriː.dʒən/ [regional] an area or part of the world

“I live in the farthest region from the capital.”

77. Remuneration /rɪˌmjuː.nərˈeɪ.ʃən/ the payment of work already completed

“Both the base salary and any additional benefits can be classed as an employee’s remuneration.”

78. Resource /rɪˈzɔːs/ [resourceful] a useful or valuable quality or possession

“The USA is very efficient at taking others’ resources.”

79. Risk management /rɪsk ˈmæn.ɪdʒ.mənt / proactively anticipating problems that can disrupt the continued smooth operation of a business and having contingencies in place to deal with them

“A transportation company has some of the most standardised risk management protocols as they uniformly have to anticipate how extreme weather conditions impact their services.”

80. Robust /rəʊˈbʌst/ used to describe how effective a model is

“A robust financial model is one that produces accurate and positive results while the market conditions are variable.”

81. Scarcity /ˈskeə.sə.ti/ a state in which the quantity of resources is less than the demand

“It is the scarcity of goods that can greatly impact sale price.”

82. Segmentation /ˌseɡ.menˈteɪ.ʃən/ [segment] dividing into smaller parts

“In business, market segmentation allows for companies to better target consumers by focusing more comprehensively on the fours areas that impact their behaviour: behavioural, demographic, geographic, and psychographic.”

83. Shareholder /ˈʃeəˌhəʊl.dər/ an individual or company that owns a share in another company’s stocks

“Shares are the parts of an organisation that anyone can buy to become a shareholder and own a piece of that company and benefit from its profits.”

84. Stability /stəˈbɪl.ə.ti/ [stable] when an economy, company or system can continue regularly and successfully without unexpected change

“Global stability is increasingly necessary to maintain international business trade.”

85.  Stakeholder /ˈsteɪkˌhəʊl.dər/ anyone that has an interest in a company and can be impacted by it

“While shareholders are also stakeholders, so too are customers, employees and any other individual or organisation involved in the company.”

86. Strategy /ˈstræt.ə.dʒi/ [strategise/ stratagem] a calculated long-term plan to reach the desired success or goal of company

“With little strategy, an organisation is likely to fail.”

87. Socialism /ˈsəʊ.ʃəl.ɪ.zəm/ [social] the belief that everyone is equal and should share equally

“The UK’s welfare system was founded in socialism but has become increasingly capitalistic.”

88. Sociopolitical /ˌsəʊsiəʊpəˈlɪtɪkəl/ the differences between groups of people relating to their social class and political beliefs

“Retail companies will usually wish to know the sociopolitical details of consumers to better adapt or target their products.”

89. Soft Power /ˈsɒftˌ paʊər/ the use of a country’s culture and influence to persuade others to do something instead of using military power

“The success of many commercial exports relies on that country’s soft power and ability to persuade other nations that it is a favourable and popular culture to imitate.”

90. Subsidy /ˈsʌb.sɪ.di/ [subsidise] financial support from a government to support an industry or business

“It is common for governments to offer agricultural subsidies to support this often low-profit but essential industry.”

91. Succession /səkˈseʃ.ən/ [succeed] when someone automatically takes an official position after someone else

“The line of succession from one CEO to the next should consider stake and shareholders’ interests.”

92. Supply /səˈplaɪ/ the amount of goods, services or resources that are available

“The law of supply in economics works on the principle that, all other things being equal, an increase in the price of a product or service will result in an increase in quantity of supply.”

93. Sustainability /səˌsteɪ.nəˈbɪl.ə.ti / [sustain/sustainable] consciousness toward causing as little harm to the environment in order to continue an act for a long period of time

“To ensure sustainability an organisation must address the ‘triple bottom line’, that is to assess and minimise the negative impact that company has on the local environment, society and economy .”

94. System /ˈsɪs.təm/ [systemic] a set of connected things or devices that operate together

“Many people wish to tear down the system of governance we have and start again.”

95. Tangible /ˈtændʒəbl/ used to refer to assets that exist in physical form

Tangible assets are those that can be seen and touched such as property, equipment and inventory.”

96. Trade /treɪd/ [trader] buying, selling or exchanging goods and services

“For globalisation to work, countries must be able to trade freely with each other.”

97. Transfer risk /trænsˈfɜːr rɪsk/ the act of passing a risk from one party to another

“It a common strategy in business to set up insurance polices that legally transfer a risk in the hand of a third-party.”

98. Treaty /ˈtriː.ti/ [treatise] an agreement between two or more countries to terms of commercial trade

“To reach a commercial treaty countries first decide on trade tariffs, benefits and penalties.”

99. Value /ˈvæl.juː/ [valuable] the worth of an asset to an organisation

“While value is often connected to money, it can also be extended to all assets and employees in a company.”

100. Wikinomics /ˌwɪkiˈnɒmɪks/ the way to describe the highly collaborative relationship between consumers and companies

“The 21st century saw the emergence of wikinomics, or crowdsourcing, in which companies use a mass collective of individuals to build and improve their products.”

To reference this reader:

Academic Marker (2022) English for Business Studies. Available at: https://academicmarker.com/academic-guidance/vocabulary/subject-specific-vocabulary/english-for-business-studies/ (Accessed: Date Month Year).

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