What is Ad Hoc?

Definition: Ad hoc is a Latin phrase that means to happening without planning or out of the regular course, for a special or unexpected reason. It is commonly applied to an action that needs to be done with the purpose of addressing an unforeseen specific situation.

What Does Ad Hoc Mean in Business?

The term comes from the Latin phrase “for this”. In business, something “ad hoc” means that was created at last minute to solve a particular situation that affects the operation. Ad hoc meetings, committees and organizational schemes are unplanned situations to deal with sudden, unusual problems or events. The term is sometimes used in a negative context, highlighting certain inability to foreseen relevant topics and to be properly prepared for them.

Nevertheless, it might be used in a positive sense when the intention is to remark creativity and promptness when dealing with unexpected issues. Certainly, ad hoc solutions are many times required because of complex, challenging environments faced by most industries.


Breston LLC is a small manufacturing company operating in a Latin American country. It markets a wide range of food products mainly targeted to children. A new Health Secretary is very concerned about children’s nutrition and decided to implement a surprising new regulation that prohibits a component that was present in three of Breston’s products. Profits were severely affected after the regulation took place since those three products represented 42% of total sales.

The company decided to create an ad hoc committee to address the unforeseen government decision like an emergency. Employees from product development, quality control, production, marketing and finance departments formed the committee. They had to evaluate and make decisions about substitute components, costs, prices, changes in packages and effects on flavors, textures and colors. They also had challenging deadlines because this temporary committee would only last six months. In this regard, the ad hoc committee was created to recommend how the company would recover from the adverse regulation. The goal was achieved and the committee successfully coordinated the actions to redesign and market the three products over the next six months.