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P2P - Peer-to-peer is a model for computer connectivity and file-sharing which extends more widely to services and large-scale services/supply models, and which threatens/promises to change the world. See peer-to-peer.

Paid-Up Capital - The total amount of money which has actually been paid in full by shareholders for their shares.

Paid-Up Policy - An insurance policy on which no more premiums are required, and the policy is considered paid in full and still remains in force.

Paid-Up Share - A share for which the shareholder has paid the full amount, as stated in the contract.

Package Deal - A set of several products which are offered for sale and must be bought in a combined package.

Packaging - Materials used to wrap a product. The way in which something, such as a product, person, proposal, etc., is presented, usually to the public.

Page Break - On a computer screen, a mark which indicates where a new page will be printed in a document.

Page Traffic - In computing, the number of times a web page has been visited.

Palm Top - A small computer which fits into the palm of the hand.

P and P (P&P) - Postage and Packing. In the UK, The cost of packing and sending goods, usually added to the price of mail-order goods.

Pan-European - Relating to all, or most of, the countries in Europe.

Pants - Street slang now mainstream, referring to anything of very poor quality. Interestingly the term first appeared in the late 1800s, based on the word 'knickers' as an expression of contempt or ridicule.

Paper Loss - In business, a loss which has occurred and appears in a company's accounts, but has not yet been realised until a transaction has been made, e.g. the sale of an asset which has lost value.

Paper Profit - A profit which has been made but has not yet been realised until a share, etc., has been sold.

Paper-Pusher - An office worker who has a boring job dealing with paperwork all day.

Paradigm Shift - Term first used by Thomas Kuhn in 1962 to describe when an important or significant change occurs in the perception of things. A sudden change in point of view.

Paralegal - A legal assistant who is not a qualified lawyer, but who is trained to work in or with the law.

Parallel Market - A country's separate market which deals in goods and currencies outside the country's normal official government controls.

Parastatal - In certain countries, a company or organisation which is partially or fully owned and controlled by the government.

Parent Company - A company or organisation which owns more than 50% of the voting shares in another company, therefore the Parent Company controls management and operations in the other (subsidiary) company.

Pareto Principle - Also known as the 80-20 Rule, e.g., 20% of employees perform 80% of the work. Or 20% of customers produce 80% of revenue. Or more generally, often situations whereby 80% of the consequences result from 20% of the causes. Commonly the ratio is (surprisingly) even more extreme. SeePareto Principle in more detail.

Parkinson's Law - A humorous and generally true observation by Cyril Northcote Parkinson (British historian 1909-1993) that capacity or time is inevitably filled, for example: 'Work will expand so as to fill the time available for its completion'. See Parkinson's Law and examples, and also Parkinson's Law of Triviality, also known as the Bikeshed Colour effect.

Part Exchange - Known in the US as Trade-In. A payment method, usually when purchasing a car, in which the buyer gives something they own, for example a car, as part payment to the vendor for the more expensive item. The balance is usually paid in cash or with a loan.

Participating Performance Share - A type of share/stock which gives a company's shareholder the right to receive dividends and also extra payments relating to the company's profits.

Partnership - A business which is owned by two or more people, all sharing the profits and responsibility for managing the business.

Part-Time Worker - Someone who works less hours than a full time employee on a permanent basis for a company, usually for a set number of hours a week.

Party Plan - Also called Party Selling. A method of marketing in which agents host parties, usually at someone's home, to demonstrate and sell products to invited potential customers.

Pascal - A computer language which is used to write programs, also used in teaching programming.

Passing Trade - Describes customers who go into a shop, public house, etc., because they notice it as they are passing by.
Patent - An official document which grants an inventor or manufacturer sole rights to an invention or product.

Patent Pending - A phrase sometimes printed on goods to show that a patent has been applied for but not yet granted.

Paternity Leave - The right of employees, male or female, to take time off from their job following the birth of their partner's baby. Entitlement to Paternity Leave depends on how long they have been with their employer.

Paternity Pay - An employee benefit paid to partners of pregnant women so they can take time off from their job after the birth of the baby to give support to the mother. Entitlement to Paternity
Pay depends on how long the partner has been with their employer.

Patron - A person who purchases goods or services, often on a regular basis, from a shop or company. A benefactor or sponsor who supports and/or gives money to an individual or an organisation, such as a charity.

Pawnbroker - A money lender who lends cash at a high rate of interest in exchange for the borrowers personal possessions, such as jewellery, as security, which is returned when the loan is fully paid. If the loan is not repaid the Pawnbroker sells the item.

Payable To Bearer - A cheque, security, etc., which can be exchanged for money by the person in possession.

Pay-As-You-Go - Refers to a method of paying for a service as you use it, such as mobile phone credit. Also can be used to pay debts as they are incurred.

PAYE - Pay As You Earn. In the UK, a system of paying income tax, which is deducted from an employees salary by an employer and paid to the government.

Paying Agent - An agent, usually a bank, that makes dividend payments to shareholders on behalf of the issuing company.

Payment By Results - A system of paying employees according to the amount of work they do. Therefore, the bigger the volume of work output, the bigger the salary.

Payout Ratio - Also known as Dividend Payout Ratio. The percentage of a company's net earnings paid to shareholders in dividends.

PDA - Personal Digital Assistant. A small hand-held electronic device that is used for storing information and can serve as a telephone, diary, alarm clock, fax, etc.

Pecking Order - The hierarchy in businesses, organisations, etc, i.e., the order of people at different ranks.

Pecuniary - Relating to, or involving money.

Peer Group - A social group of equals, for example, in age, social class, education, etc. A group of products or businesses which are similar.

Peer-To-Peer - Also abbreviated to P2P, this describes computer systems which act as servers and are connected to each other via the internet, allowing people to share share files, so there is no need for a central computer, or traditional authority/body/agent. The concept now extends more widely to business models in various areas. See P2P acronym.

Pen Portrait - A description of a person, a 'character sketch in words', now commonly a person-profile used for audience targeting purposes (marketing, recruitment, etc), although the expression dates back to the 1800s, originally referring to a description of a person, so as to produce a picture in the mind. 'Pen Picture' was an early alternative term.

Penalty Clause - A clause in a contract which states that a specified sum of money must be paid by the party who breaks the contract.

Penetration Pricing - The practice of charging a low price for a new product for a short period of time in order to establish a market share and attract customers.

Penny Share - Describes shares which have a very low value and therefore appeal to speculators.

Pen-Pusher - An employee with a boring job whose work consists of dealing with unimportant documents, paperwork, etc.

Pension - A private or government fund from which regular payments are made to a person who has retired from work, or who is considered too ill to carry on working.

Pension Fund - A fund set up to collect money on a regular basis from employers and employees, which pays the employees pension when they retire from work.

Peppercorn Rent - In the UK, a very low or nominal payment, which was originally a single peppercorn, made to secure a lease.

Per Capita - For each person in the population. Per head. An expression of something (for example car ownership, consumption, etc) in relation to the population of a particular city, nation, etc.

Per Diem - Latin for 'Per Day'. Often refers to money paid to employees for daily expenses or reimbursements.

Perfect Competition - Describes a market in which no one can influence prices because there is enough information about a product to prevent control by an individual or a single organisation.

Perfect Storm - Coincidentally arising circumstances combining to produce a disastrous effect. This is an allusion to weather factors, commonly applied to economic or trading situations, but applicable to any disaster or chaotic outcome resulting from forces or effects whose combination and timing has not been thought likely or anticipated at all.

Performance-Related Pay - A scheme set up in the workplace in which the employees get paid according to how well they perform in their job.

Peripatetic - Working or travelling from place to place, staying at different locations for a short period, such as, and especially as a teacher does, in working at more than one school. The teacher analogy is apt since the word derives from the Greek peripatetikos, and the earlier peripatein, which referred specifically to the teaching style of Aristotle (384-322 BC, Greek philosopher, student of Plato, teacher of Alexander the Great), who walked about while he talked. The ancient Greek prefix peri means around, or round, and patein means to tread.

Perishables - Describes food, such as fruit, meat, fish, dairy products, etc., which will decay or spoil rapidly.

Perjury - The criminal offence of knowingly telling a lie (with intent to influence the outcome of the hearing) in a court of law after having taken an oath or affirmation. It closely relates to and is often implicit within the offence of perverting the course of justice, which in the UK technically carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The word perjury derives from Latin perjurium, meaning false oath, similar to jury which comes from jurare, meaning to swear.

Permatemp - A person who works for an organisation on a long-term contractual basis, but who is not a permanent employee.

Permission Marketing - A term used for the advertising of products or services on the Internet, for which the marketing company obtain the consent of prospective customers to send them information about certain products or services.

Personal Action - A type of court case in which an individual claims damages for personal injury, damage to his property, etc.

Personal Allowance - Known as Personal Exemption in the US. The amount of income an individual can earn in a year before paying tax.

Personal Assistant - PA. A person who works for one person, often an executive, in an organisation, performing secretarial and administrative duties.

Personal Day - When an employee is permitted to have time off work to deal with personal matters.

Personal Development - Also called Self-Development. Acquiring abilities, skills, knowledge, etc., in order to enhance one's performance and self-perception.

Personal Information Manager - PIM. Computer software which handles personal information, such as names, addresses, memos, lists, e-mails, etc.

Personal Liability - An individual's legal responsibility in the event of injury to someone, damage to property and/or the debts of their own company.

Personnel - The people who work for a business or organisation. An administrative department in an organisation which deals with employees and often liaises between departments.

Persuasion/The Three Modes of Persuasion - Aristotle's 2,300 years-old three principles model for communications which successfully move an audience to action or change (see the fuller definitions and examples of The Three Modes of Persuasion):
1.Ethos - The integrity of the communicator.
2.Pathos - The emotional effect (of communicator and message) on the listener/reader/audience.
3.Logos - The relevance and strength of the message content.

Performance (Project/Program) Evaluation on Review Technique - PERT. A management scheduling tool which charts the tasks involved in a project, showing the sequence of the work, the time needed for each task, etc.

PEST Analysis - Political Economical Social and Technological Analysis. A business tool which is used in strategic planning and helps to understand the environmental influences on a business or orgasnisation.

Peter Principle - Formulated by Canadian author Laurence J Peter (1919-1990): 'In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence'. The theory that employees rise in rank in an organisation until they are finally promoted to a level, and remain there, at which they do not have the ability to do their job.

Petrodollar - Term coined by professor of economics Ibrahim Oweiss in the 1970s which describes the large amounts of money earned by oil production in OPEC (Organisation of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries) countries.

Petty Cash - A small amount of cash kept by a business to pay for small purchases.

Phablet - A tablet computer that is also a phone. Or a phone that is also a tablet computer. This term emerged 2012/13 with the launch of the technology to which it refers. A word formed like this (i.e., a combination of parts of the two words/things it refers to - in this case, phone and a tablet) is called aportmanteau.

Pharmaceutical - Relating to or engaged in the process of making and selling medicinal drugs.

Philanthropy/Philanthropist - Promotion of the welfare of others, typically through financial provision (a philanthorpist is one who does this). From the Greek philanthropos, meaning man-loving.

Philology - The branch of knowledge which deals with the study of the history of language and literature. Historical linguistics.

Phishing - A type of fraud carried out on the internet by sending people legitimate-looking e-mails asking for their personal information, such as bank account details, passwords, etc., and using them to steal their money.

Photocall - A planned and announced occasion during which celebrities, politicians, products launches, etc., have photographs taken by the press and other media for publicity purposes.

Physical Capital - Refers to a company's assets which are used in a production process, such as machinery, buildings, materials, etc.

Picket - A person, or persons, posted at the entrance of a place of work which is affected by a strike, in order to stop people entering the premises.

Pictogram - Also called a Pictograph. A graphic symbol or diagram which represents a concept, an amount, an activity, etc., in pictures.

Piece Rate - A payment system in which employees are paid a fixed rate for each item they produce.

Piecework - Work in which payment is based on the amount of work done regardless of the time it takes to do it.

Pie Chart - A chart or graph which is circular in shape and divided into triangular sections (like slices of a pie), the sizes of which are relative to the quantities represented.

Piggyback - A system which rides on the back of an existing system, e.g. a loan or mortgage or an advertising campaign.

PIN - Personal Identification Number. A number given by a bank to a customer so the customer can access their bank account using an ATM (cash machine), or use their credit/debit card in retail outlets.

Ping - Packet INternet Groper. An Internet program which is used to check if another computer on a network is working. To contact someone on a computer.

Pink Collar - Describes jobs which were once traditionally done by women, such as nursing, secretarial, teaching, etc.

Pink Sheets - Formally known as Pink Quote. In the US, a system displaying over-the-counter shares, which is published every day. Most companies listed on the Pink Sheets are very small and do not meet the minimum requirements for trading on the Stock Exchange.

Pink Slip - In the US, an official notice of job termination given to an employee.

Piracy - The unauthorised copying of CDs, DVDs, computer programs, etc., in order to sell them or give them away.

Pixel - Short for Picture Element. The smallest element of an image displayed on a computer screen. The quality of the image depends on the number of pixels per square inch, i.e., the more pixels the higher the resolution.

Plain Language - Represented notably by the Plain Language Movement, and the Plain Language Information and Action Network (PLAIN), in the late 1900s Plain Language became a generally recognized technical term for the advocation and use of clear explanations, descriptions, instructions, etc., in official documents and other communications, which frequently use goobledegook or 'officialese', i.e., language which is overly complex and/or containing confusing jargon and abbreviations, etc. See gobbledegook.

Plaintiff - A person who brings a lawsuit against someone else in a court of law.

Planned Economy - A country's economic system controlled by the government, which makes all the decisions about production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.

Planogram - In retailing, a drawing or diagram which shows when and how products should be displayed in a store.

Plasma - Interestingly, in physics, plasma is the often overlooked fourth state of matter, aside from solid, liquid and gas. Plasma is ionized gas containing free electrons, making it responsive to electromagnetism, and conductive of electricity, in turn enabling it to take a very visible physical shape unlike other forms of gas. The stars are made of plasma; so is lightening and the Northen Lights (Aurora Borealis). Plasma display screens also basically employ this effect.

PLC - Public Limited Company. In the UK, a company with limited liability, whose shares can be purchased by the public.

Plenary/Plenary session - Plenary essentially means full or complete. In the context of formal organized gatherings it means fully attended by everyone together. The term 'plenary session' is very commonly used in business and management to refer to a session which all attendees attend at a conferences or other event, notably to differentiate from smaller sessions of sub-groups concerened with different topics and held in different locations/rooms. Separately plenary refers to something or someone having a complete or absolute quality, such as an official with plenary (full and complete) power.

Plimsoll - Named after merchant Samuel Plimsoll. International Load line or Waterline on the hull of every cargo ship, which indicates the maximum depth to which a ship can be safely loaded with cargo.

Plutocracy - A government which is controlled by wealthy people.

PMI - Purchasing Managers Index. Published every month, an economic measure relating to manufacturing. A PMI over 50 indicates industry is expanding.

Poaching/Poacher - Poaching refers to an employee who targets and wins customers of a previous employer, typically by exploiting knowledge and contacts accumulated from the previous employment. The term most commonly refers to sales people, but is applied to any employee who approaches and wins customers from a previous job by exploiting his/her previous knowledge or records of customers and related information. The behaviour/behavior is extremely common in all types of business, and at all levels, especially where customer loyalty is strongly based on contact/skills/service/relationship on a personal basis rather than an impersonal organizational loyalty. Employers in industries vulnerable to such activity (basically all businesses which entail strong personal relationships between employees and customers) seek to limit the risks of poaching via 'post cessation covenants' in employment contracts, although enforcing such terms is often very difficult for employers due to contra-obligations protecting employees from 'restriction of trade'. See the related term'gamekeeper to poacher'.

Poisoned Chalice - A job or situation which seems good at first but soon becomes unpleasant or harmful.

Poison Pill - A business strategy used by a company to avoid being taken over by another company, e.g., the selling of assets, shares, etc., to make the company look less attractive to the potential buyer.

Polymath - A person of great knowledge and varied learning. Loosely from Greek poly, many, and manthanein, learn.

Political Correctness/pc/non-pc - commonly abbreviated to pc or PC, and more usually in the negative form 'non-pc'. 'Political correctness' is the practice of not using words, expressions, actions, etc., which could cause offence to (especially) minority groups, or in fact to any group which might reasonably be offended by the words or actions concerned. PC is sometimes alternatively ironically interpreted to mean 'Political Claptrap/Claptrappers', referring to over-zealous application or expectation of political correctness.

Ponzi Scheme - Named after Charles Ponzi, a fraudulent investment scheme, similar to a Pyramid Scheme, in which people are offered high returns, while their money is used to pay earlier investors, so that later investors often end up with little or no return because new investors can't be found.

Pop-Under - On a computer, an advertisement, etc., which comes up on the screen behind the web page which is being viewed, and does not appear until the page is closed.

Pop-Up - On a computer screen, a small window containing an advertisement, etc., which appears on a page on top of the content which is being viewed.

Poorgeoisie - People who are rich but pretend they don't have much money.

Pork Barrel - A US political term for when government funds are used for projects which benefit certain local groups or constituents, and show their political representative in a good light.

Portal - On the Internet, a website, usually a search engine, which is the point of entry to other websites, and offers services such as e-mail, news, shopping, etc.

Porter's Generic Strategies - Named after economist Michael Porter. Describes strategies used by companies to achieve a strong advantage against competitors.

Portfolio - A collection of investments, such as shares, bonds, etc., which are owned by an individual or organisation.

Portfolio Career - Concept attributed to guru Charles Handy in the 1990s. A career in which a person pursues several jobs at the same time, rather than working full-time for one particular company.

Port Of Entry - A place in a country where people and/or goods can officially leave or enter.

Portmanteau Word - A word formed from parts of two separate words, whose combined meanings generally produce the new meaning also. Many new management and business words, especially slang and jargon, enter the language in this way, and some become popular and well-established. Seeportmanteau words in the cliches and expressions origins page.

Positioning - Term used to describe the way a company, product, service, etc., is marketed in order to make it stand out from the competition by choosing a niche according to brand, price, packaging, etc.


Positive Discrimination - In the UK, a company's policy of favouring a disadvantaged (because of race, sex, etc.,) group by making sure that jobs are given to people in these groups.

Positive Sum Game - A win-win situation in which both sides involved in a business transaction, etc., can profit.

Postage And Packing - Called Postage and Handling in the US. The cost of wrapping an item and sending it by post. Often used for mail order goods.

Post Cessation Covenant - An employment contract clause/provision which seeks to prevent an employee from exploiting his/her knowledge/contacts/relationships after leaving the employment and to compete with the previous employer, or to work for a competing organization. Such covenants typically apply for six months, or a year, or longer, and are also defined according to market sectors and geographical territories. Post cessation covenants are difficult to enforce, notably in small consumer businesses identifying and proving the loss and acquisition of clients, and balancing actions against 'restriction of trade' obligations, but in some cases employers recover substantial damages from previous employees who breach their terms. See'poaching'.

Post-Date - To insert a future date on a cheque or document at the time of writing, so it becomes effective at that later date.

Post-Fordism - Also called Flexible Modernity. An industrial production system which has changed from mass production in large factories, such as Ford Motors, and moved towards smaller flexible, more specialised manufacturing systems.

Power Brand - A brand of goods, etc., which is well known and has a large share of the consumer market for a long period of time.

Power Lunch - A business meeting held over lunch in which important decisions may be made, or high level discussions carried out.

Power Nap - A short nap. usually lasting about 20 minutes, taken during the day, that refreshes a person so they can carry on working.

PPC - Pay-Per-Click (also called CPC, Cost-Per-Click) - A method of internet/website/electronic advertising by which an advertiser pays according to the number of visitors/users who click on an advert. This compares with the main alternative method, CPI - Cost-Per-Impression (or 'cost per view') - by which advertisers pay according to the number of times an advert is displayed/viewed, and which is used analytically/statistically beyond electronic advertising. The non-electronic/non-internet equivalent of PPC/CPC is loosely 'cost per enquiry/inquiry' or 'cost per lead'. CPO - Cost-Per-Order (cost per transaction) - is a less common variation, by which advertising cost is calculated/charged according to numbers or values of orders placed (purchases or sales revenues), which is a further step in the buying/selling process. The cost-effectiveness of PPC (pay per click) is easier to predict and manage than CPI (cost per impression/view), but less easy to predict and manage than CPO (cost per order/transaction/sale). See sales and selling for detailed explanation of the sales and selling process.

Prairie Dogging - This occurs when someone who works in an open office, which is divided into cubicles, drops something or shouts and everyone else pops their heads above the dividing walls to see what is happening.

Precedent - A past act or decision which is used as an example to decide the outcome of similar subsequent acts.

Predatory Lending - The often illegal practice of lending money to people who the lender knows are unable to pay back the loan, such as low-income house-owners, who subsequently may lose their homes which they have used as security against the loan.

Predatory Pricing - Also known as Destroyer Pricing. A situation where a company charges very low prices for goods or services in order to put its competitors out of business, after which prices will be raised.

Preference Share - Also called Preferred Shares. A type of share which pays the owner a fixed dividend before other share owners are paid their dividends. Preference Shareholders do not usually have the right to vote at shareholders meetings.

Preferential Creditor - A creditor who has the right to receive payment of debts, before other creditors, from a bankrupt company.

Pre-Market - On the Stock Market, trading which takes place between members before the official opening time.

Premium Income - The revenue recieved by an insurance company from its customers.

Presenteeism - The opposite of Absenteeism. A situation where employees work very long hours or come to work when they are ill and their performance is below standard, which can have a negative effect on the business.

Press Agent - A person employed to arrange publicity for an individual or organisation, for example in newspapers, on television, etc.

Press Conference - Called A News Conference in the US. A meeting held by a business, organisation, individual, etc., to which journalists are invited to hear a public announcement, and usually to ask questions.

Pressure Group - An organised group of people, or lobbyists, who campaign to influence businesses, governments, etc., to change their policies, e.g. regarding the environment, or to change laws.

Price - The amount of money required to purchase something or to bribe someone. The amount agreed upon between the buyer and seller in a commercial transaction.

Price Control - Maximum and minimum price limitations, often during periods of inflation, which a government puts on essential goods and/or services.

Price Discrimination - The practice of a provider to charge different prices for the same product to different customers.

Price Fixing - The, often illegal, practice of prices being fixed, by agreement, by competing companies who provide the same goods or services as each other.

Price Mechanism - Describes the way prices for goods and services are influenced by the changes in supply and demand. Shortages cause a rise in prices, surpluses cause a fall in prices.

Price Support - A system in which a minimum price is set by a government, and sometimes subsidised, for a product or commodity.

Price Taker - A company or individual whose selling or buying of goods and services has little or no influence over prices.

Pricing - To evaluate the price of a product by taking into account the cost of production, the price of similar competing products, market situation, etc.

Primary Data - Data which is collected by a company, business, etc., itself for its own use, using questionnaires, case studies, interviews, etc., rather than using other sources to collect the data.

Primary Demand - Consumers demand for a generic product rather than a particular brand.

Primary Market - On the Stock Exchange, when shares, securities, etc., are issued for the first time.

Primary Research - Also called Field Research. The collection of new or primary data through questionnaires, telephone interviews, etc., for a specific purpose.

Prime Cost - In manufacturing, etc., the cost of direct materials and labour required to make a product.

Principal - In finance, principal (the principal, or the principal sum/amount) refers to an amount of money loaned or borrowed. The term is used particularly when differentiating or clarifying an amount of money (loaned/borrowed/invested) excluding interest payments. Separately, more generally, in business the term 'the principal' refers to the owner of a business or brand, as distinct from an agent or representative, such as a franchisee.

Private Brand - Also called House Brand. A product which is owned by a retailer, and therefore has its own brand label on it, rather than the manufacturer or producer.

Private Company - Called A Private Corporation in the US. A company whose shares are not offered to the general public on the open market.

Private Equity - Describes companies shares which are not available for investors to buy and sell on the Stock Market, because the company is unlisted.

Private Sector - The part of a country's economy which is owned and run for profit by private businesses rather than being government controlled.

Privatise/Privatize - (UK/US English spelling) To change or sell a government controlled business or industry to privately owned companies.

Privity - A legal relationship between two parties in a contract.

PRO - Public Relations Officer. Also known as a Chief Communications Officer. A person whose job is to promote and establish a good relationship between their client - an organisation or an individual - and the public.

Probation - A trial period during which an individual's suitability for a job or membership to a club, etc., is tested.

Probity - Complete integrity. Having strong moral principals and total honesty.

Pro Bono - Short for Pro Bono Publico (Latin for 'The Public Good'). Work carried out in the public interest for no fee or compensation, e.g. by a lawyer.

Proctor - Someone who supervises students, etc., taking exams to prevent cheating. Also a person or agent employed to manage the affairs of another person.

Product - The result of a manufacturing or natural process (such as food) which is offered for sale to the general public, usually by a retailer.

Product Evangelist - A person who is committed to a promoting a product through demonstrations, talks, blogging, etc.

Productivity - The rate at which goods are produced based on how long it takes, how many workers are required, how much capital and equipment is needed, etc.

Product Liability - Area of the law in which a manufacturer or retailer is legally responsible for any damage or injury caused by a defective product.

Product Life Cycle - This refers to the (generally very usual and unavoidable) stages that a product/service passes through from invention/development to maturity to decline until it becomes obsolete, usually because it has been superseded by competitive/replacement offerings, and/or to a lesser degree the product/service has saturated the market, i.e., everyone who wants it has purchased it. Product life cycle is often shown as a graph of sales volumes or market-share over time. The term 'product life cycle' is very broad - it may refer to a single specific item of one particular supplier, such as a 'Big Mac' burger, or an iPad, or a Colt 45 revolver; or to a product/service in a generic sense across an entire industrial sector, such as a personal computer, or television, or diesel locomotive; or to a technology, such as broadband, radar, the internal combustion engine, or steam-power; or even symbolically to a lifestyle or aspect of civilization, such as agriculture, fire, horse-transport, coins/paper money, Christianity, etc. The product life cycle begins with innovation and novelty, often supported by (commercially) patents or other protective mechanisms such as secrecy, cartels, legislative instruments, etc., during which the prices and gross profit margins of products/services are high (although net profits may be low due to recovery development/investment costs). This is shown as a steep upward curve on a product life cycle graph, reflecting/illustrating sales levels in volumes or revenues or market share, horizontally, passing through vertical time-zones, typically years. The curve then flattens to reflect/illustrate 'maturity' of product/service life, and a period of reasonably constant sales, during which profits should be healthy, even if competition and competing technologies have begun to pressurize prices downwards, because investment costs have been recovered and economies of scale in production and distribution have been achieved. Next the curve to dips gradually downwards, reflecting/illustrating reduced sales levels and the 'decline' of the product/service market appeal. Profits may still be healthy during the decline phase if costs and efficiences are managed carefully, although many corporations persist in investing in and attempting to revive declining products/services, which tends to be wasteful and in vain. Decline may last for many years depending on the product/service/technology concerned, and some technologies may maintain a small specialist niche market indefinitely, such as hot-air balloons, steam trains, archery, and cut-throat razors. Some technologies and specific products enjoy natural resurgences, but this is very rare, for example notably the bicycle (in Europe), whose product life cycle graph would show a steep rise after invention in the 1800s, then a plateau and a decline in the late 1900s, and then another rise as popularity surged again in the early 2000s. The fuel-oil technology product life cycle graph would show a similar double rise, initially for the market in oil-lamp lighting, and then, as the oil-lamp technology was about to become obsolete due to electric light, the motor car was invented. Likely a third fuel-oil demand surge will be enabled just as electric motoring replaces the internal combustion engine. When products/technologies become sufficiently huge, they (and the corporations which own them) can potentially exert influences and protections of vast socio-political dimensions. This effect can arguably be seen in the power of other major technology players such as Apple, Microsoft and Google, and equivalent corporations in fundamentally powerful sectors such as energy, minerals, transport, armaments, etc. In general however, product life cycles have become shorter over past decades and centuries, and are likely to continue to become even shorter in the future. For example, in the Stone Age, stone tools can be considered to have enjoyed an effective product life cycle of thousands of years. In the Middle Ages, candles enjoyed a product life cycle of several hundreds of years. In the European/western industrial age, steam-power enjoyed a product life cycle of two centuries. In the computer age, the product life cycle of the digital wristwatch and 'Walkman' cassette player was no more than two decades. In more recent times, the Myspace phenomenon launched in 2003, bought by News Corporation for $580m in 2005, the most popular website globally from 2006-2008, was in dramatic decline by 2009, and was forced to attempt a complete redesign and relaunch in 2013, effectively signifying the obsolescence of the original concept, an effective life cycle of just six years for a once global industry leader and technology definer. The modern world moves very quickly, and so too now do most product life cycles.

Product Placement - Also called Embedded Marketing. A type of advertising where a company pays a fee to have one or more of its products used as props in a film or television show.

Product Portfolio - A variety of products which are manufactured or distributed by a company or organisation.

Professional Liability - The legal liability of a professional, such as a doctor, accountant, lawyer, etc., who causes loss, harm or injury to their clients while performing their professional duties.

Profiteer - An organisation or individual who makes excessive profits by charging very high prices for goods which are in short supply.

Profit-centre - A business division or department or unit which is responsible for producing a profit, for example a shop unit within a chain of shops, or a branch within a network dealerships. Significantly a Profit-centre business unit will use a 'Profit and Loss Account' as a means of managing and reporting the business. A profit centre is involved in selling to customers. See Cost-centre, which tends only to be responsible for internal services and supply to other departments.

Profit Sharing - An incentive scheme in which a business shares some of its profit , usually in cash or shares, with its employees.

Profit Squeeze - A situation in which a company or business makes less profit over a period of time because of rising costs and/or falling prices.

Pro Forma Invoice - An invoice prepared by a supplier describing goods, price, quantity, etc., which is sent to the buyer before the goods are supplied.

Program Trading - On the Stock Market, the buying and selling of large amounts of shares by computer, the program of which is triggered when trading reaches a certain level of volume.

Prohibitive - Preventing or discouraging something, for example people are discouraged from buying a product because the price is prohibitive, i.e., too high.

Project - A very general term for a task or objective of some complexity and duration, such that it needs properly planning, organizing, resourcing and managing. A small project can easily be part of a person's usual work duties. A large project can be as big as starting a new business, or constructing a skyscraper, or putting a spacecraft on Mars. Typically large projects are established as being separate to usual operational duties and responsibilities of workers, although any job can at any time be extended to include responsibility for the management of a project within it. A project differs from conventional 'work' mainly in being far more firmly structured, scheduled, resourced, and proactive, etc., whereas conventional 'work' is less predictable and tends to be of a more passive, responsive, reactive and flexible nature. Projects may be opportunistic and proactive (such as new product developments, or building something new, or some sort of exploratory research), or a necessary response/reaction to problems, emergencies, failures, etc., (for example a product recall, or a disaster recovery or investigation, or a re-training requirement). Large projects almost inevitably involve a degree of people-management. Projects may require that people/labour resources are provided internally/'in-house' or externally/'contracted-out' and commonly a mixture of both, especially if the project is large compared to the size of the organization which owns and instigates the project.

Project Management - The process of managing and planning a successful project from start to finish, which includes controlling, organizing, managing resources, people, budgets, etc. See project management.

Project Manager - A person responsible for planning and delivering a large stand-alone task, objective, venture, etc., (a large and complex 'project') or a professional who is skilled in doing this, which generally includes using suitable project management tools and systems, and people-management skills where appropriate. N.B. A person who is instructed to plan and manage a project within his/her conventional work duties is not necessarily, in the usual meaning of the term, a 'project manager'. The term 'project manager' usually refers to a person whose primary responsibility is to manage a stand-alone project which by definition falls outside of conventional and normal operational work duties.

Project Sponsor - A person in an organization who instigates or proposes a project, and creates/establishes/agrees the necessary executive approval, funding, resourcing, etc., typically extending to the appointment of the project manager. A project sponsor is usually and crucially responsible for developing and presenting the financial justification for the project, which generally entails outcomes and timescales, and assuming personal accountability for the success of the project.

PROM - Programmable Read Only Memory. In a computer, a permanent memory chip which can only be recorded on once, by the computer user, not the manufacturer, after which the data is stored and cannot be changed.

Promo - A promotional broadcast on television, radio, etc., advertising a product, TV show, film, etc.

Promotion - The use of marketing and/or advertising to bring attention to a product, brand, service, company, etc., usually in order to increase sales. The raising of an employee to a higher rank in an organisation.

Prompt Note - A document sent to someone to remind them when a payment is due on a purchase.

Proof Copy - The printed pages of a book, magazine, etc., which is read and corrected (e.g. spelling mistakes) by a Proof Reader before the final printing of all the copies.

Propaganda - Politically motivated publication or writing designed to influence thinking or action, usually in a misleading way. When carried out by a government or other authority this may also be referred to in more modern terms as 'spin'. The word derives from the Latin name of a Roman Catholic committee responsible for 'propagation of the faith' in the 1600s.

Proprietary Trading - The buying and selling of shares, bonds, etc., by a securities firm with its own money for its own profit, rather than for its customers.

Pro Rata - In proportion to. Refers to the division of costs, profits, income, etc., depending on the size of each persons share in the whole amount.

Prosecute - To bring a criminal charge against someone in a court of law.

Prospectus - A document published by a company which is offering its shares for sale, disclosing information such as the company's activities, objectives, finances, etc. A book published by a university or school containing information about courses, etc.

Prosumer - Profession/Producer Consumer. A consumer who is involved in the specification of products, or has professional tools and is involved in the the design and manufacture of products.

Protectionism - The policy of a country protecting its own industries against foreign competition by imposing taxes, etc., on imported goods.

Pro Tem  - Temporarily. For the time being.

Protocol - In computing, a set of rules which determine the way data is transmitted between computers. The code of conduct in an organisation, etc.

Prototype - An original design or working model of something, often used in demonstrations.

Provenance - The origins and history/development/movement of a created work (originally referring to art work, but now extending to any created work, such as writings, computer programs, etc) such as to provide record and evidence of the creator, reliability, ownership, adaptation, etc., of the work, thereby demonstrating or supporting the work's authenticity and quality. The term is from Latin pro, forth, and venire, come.

Provident Fund - A form of retirement savings. An employer and employee pay regular, usually equal, amounts into an investment fund, which is then paid to the employee upon retirement, often in a lump sum.

Proviso - A clause in a contract which makes a condition or stipulation.

Prudence - Aside from its usual general meaning of carefulness in judgment and decision-making, prudence particularly refers to caution in commercial/financial/economic risk-taking, and to the typically great caution exercised by financial folk (accountants and bankers notably) in planning, budgeting, forecasting, granting loans, extending credit, defining standards and policies, and accounting practice as a whole, etc.

Prune Juice - A term attributed to 'showbusinessman' Alan Sugar, which refers to revenues which come into a business and are lost very quickly and unavoidably as costs, and so do very little if anything to actually improve trading profits. Sugar used this term referring to the vast TV revenues paid to top soccer clubs, which flushes through their businesses as similarly vast payments to players. A business which benefits (or suffers) from the prune juice effect tends to give the impression of being much bigger and more solvent and profitable than it actually is. Prune juice revenues also tend to dictate business expediture models which dilute real strategic and management control of the business owners, so that the providers of revenues exert a very high level of influence.

Proxy - A person who has been given the authority to act for another person, e.g., a proxy can vote on behalf of a shareholder.

Pseudo - Pronounced 'sudo', this is a prefix which can be put before many different words to represent a fake or false quality which often attempts to imitate or behave as the real thing. From Greek pseudos, meaning falsehood.

Pseudonym - a false name, commonly adopted by a writer seeking to hide their true identity.


Psychological Contract - usually expressed as 'the Psychological Contract', this is the understanding between employee(s) and employer as to their mutual expectations arising from the employment relationship. The expectations involve a complex balance of inputs and rewards, including contractually clear elements such as hours and pay, and extend to implications and assumptions about security, loyalty, and other highly subjective factors. The Psychological Contract is a two-way notional agreement between employee and employer, typically analysed from the employee perspective. Psychological Contract theory potentially extends to relationships between suppliers and customers, and between the state and its people. More detailed explanation is in thePsychological Contract section of this website.

Psychographics - Used in marketing, the analysis of peoples characters, lifestyles, attitudes, purchasing habits, etc.

Psychographic Segmentation - The process of identifying and dividing consumers into groups according to their interests, attitudes, social class, values, personality, etc.

Psychometric Test - A test which measures a person's personality, mental ability, knowledge, etc., often used to ascertain whether a potential employee is suitable for a job.

Public Company - A company whose shares are traded on the Stock Market.

Public Debt - Also known as National Debt. The total amount of money owed by a country's national and local governments.

Public Domain - Something that is not protected by copyright and is openly available for anyone to use, look at, etc.

Public Employee - A person employed by the government.

Public Enterprise - A business or economic activity owned and controlled by the government.

Public Issue - When a company offers shares for sale to the public for the first time.

Publicist - A publicity or press agent who publicises organisations, people, etc.

Public Liability - When the owner of a business, etc., is responsible for any injury or harm inflicted on a member of the public because of negligence or unsafe products, etc., against which an insurance policy can be obtained by the business.

Public Relations - PR. The promotion of an organisation or person with the aim of creating a favourable relationship with the public.

Public Works - Buildings and structures constructed by the government for public use, such as roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, etc.

Puff - In advertising, to exaggerate the qualities of a product, etc., without actually breaking the law.

Pull Strategy - Used in marketing to create a demand for a product by means of advertising and promoting to the end consumer, rather than through the marketing channel. To 'pull' the product through from distributor to final consumer.

Pump And Dump - The illegal practice of artificially boosting share prices by false and misleading statements in order to sell the originally cheap shares at much higher prices.

Punitive - Inflicting or concerned with punishment, for example punitive taxes, punitive justice.

Punitive Damages - Damages awarded, over and above general damages, by a court of law against a defendant who has committed a malicious act which has resulted in injury to a person or damage to property, in order to deter the defendant from committing similar acts in future.

Purchase Ledger - A record of a company's accounts which shows amounts owed to suppliers for items purchased on credit.

Purchasing Officer - A company employee who is responsible for the purchasing of equipment, materials and services from suppliers and contractors.

Purchasing Power - Also called spending power, the amount of goods or services which can be purchased with a particular currency, or more generally, the amount of money a person or group has available to spend on goods and services. The term may also emphasise a group or organization's ability to achieve heavily discounted prices or rates due to the high buying volumes.

Pure Play - Term that relates to a company which deals in one specific line of business, rather than a range of products, services, etc.

Purveyor - A company or person who supplies provisions, especially food.

Push System - In production, a system in which the demand for goods is predicted by the company, so more goods are made to keep up with pre-set levels rather than customer demand.

Put Option - An option in a contract giving the holder the right to sell shares, materials, etc., at a specified price at, or up to, a fixed date.

Pyramid Selling - A system in which people buy the rights (often a franchise) to sell a company's products to other distributors who have been recruited, who then sell the products on to other recruits. This type of selling often ends up with no final buyer for the products. The few people at the top of the pyramid commonly make a lot more money than the many people at the bottom.

Pyramid Scheme - Illegal in several countries, a scheme in which people are paid for recruiting others who pay a fee, part of which goes to the person who recruited them as a commission. In order to get their payment the recruits then have to find new recruits to pay a fee. This goes on until there is no one left to recruit and the people who come into the scheme last end up losing their money. The difference between Pyramid Selling and a Pyramid Scheme is that is that the latter has no product. (See Ponzi Scheme)

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