Business policy and nGrams

21 March 2012

Much has been written about the change from business policy to business strategy (aka strategic management). I thought it would be interesting to look at that change over time. So, searching Google’s corpus of ngram books I’ve tracked the rise and fall of business policy and business strategy.

US english chart

You can use business policy and strategic management, but you’ll get a very similar result. I think the result is what one might expect. The chart is based on the “American English” collection of books. What is interesting is the result when you look at the same terms using the “British” collection of books.

British English chart

There is still a big rise in “business strategy” from the 1980s, but the surge in “business policy in the 1920s is entirely missing. It’s true that business policy emerged from the Harvard Business School around 1910–1920, but the size is—in retrospect—a little surprising perhaps, as is the way the idea doesn’t materially travel to Britain.