"product" as non-manufactured--related business jargon

GSCole gscole at ARK.SHIP.EDU
Sun Feb 13 15:12:03 UTC 2000

With regard to James Clapp's note about "grow our souls", there are
quite a few shibboleths floating around the business community,
including both the academic and the non-academic components of that
community.  A similar statement may be true for non-business communities
as well.

About 15 years ago, wearying of hearing the phrase "bottom-line
orientated", as in "We're bottom-line oriented", I began to ask everyone
who used that phrase to define it.  Not one manager in 10 (I only raised
the issue with about 12 folk) used the same definition.  None of those
with whom I spoke had ever seriously taken any accounting courses, but
they all felt qualified to explain the definition to this academic who
had earned a degree in accounting.  Interestingly, they all spoke as
though their particular 'definition' was widely accepted in the business

There are numerous examples of other shibbolethic business usages.  Many
managers have the attitude that if a concept is 'in', then that concept
must describe what their organization is doing.  In the 1970s, the
concept of culture was studied by anthropologists, and almost held in
disdain by typical business faculty.  In the 1980s, as the competitive
business world was redefined for many US businesses, culture suddenly
became a business concern, with the business version of the word
borrowing more from psychology than from anthropology.

Perhaps shibbolethic usage is a driver of change?  Not my field of
study, merely an interest.

George S. Cole    gscole at ark.ship.edu
Shippensburg University

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