The Peter Principle At Work in America


The Peter Principle At Work in America


The Peter Principle is a concept in management theory formulated by educator Laurence J. Peter and published in 1969. It states that the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and “managers rise to the level of their incompetence”.


The goings on across America, in Local, State and Federal Government show how the Peter Principle is alive and well throughout the United States of America.


Look at the striving for a better America by President Trump and the type and level of resistance from the Legislative and Judicial Branches of Government, at federal, state and local levels where government officials act as they are above the law and cannot be touched.


The names are too numerous to list here, but take any “news” article from any media source on any given day and you can see where certain individuals in elected or appointed positions fit into the hierarchy as defined by these Peter Principle Quotes by Laurence J. Peter


“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“Good followers do not become good leaders.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“In most hierarchies, super-competence is more objectionable than incompetence.” He warned that extremely skilled and productive employees often face criticism, and are fired if they don’t start performing worse. Their presence “disrupts and therefore violates the first commandment of hierarchical life: the hierarchy must be preserved.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“Any government, whether it is a democracy, a dictatorship, a communistic or free enterprise bureaucracy, will fall when its hierarchy reaches an intolerable state of maturity.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“As individuals we tend to climb to our levels of incompetence. We behave as though up is better and more is better, and yet all around us we see the tragic victims of this mindless escalation.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“A staff increase may produce a temporary improvement, but the promotion process eventually produces its effect on the newcomers and they, too, rise to their levels of incompetence.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“Three Observations

1) The computer may be incompetent in itself—that is, unable to do regularly and accurately the work for which it was designed. This kind of incompetence can never be eliminated, because the Peter Principle applies in the plants where computers are designed and manufactured.

2) Even when competent in itself, the computer vastly magnifies the results of incompetence in its owners or operators.

3) The computer, like a human employee, is subject to the Peter Principle. If it does good work at first, there is a strong tendency to promote it to more responsible tasks, until it reaches its level of incompetence.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“Slump, and the world slumps with you. Push and you push alone.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“Many a man, under the old and the new systems, has made the upward step from candidate to legislator, only to achieve his level of incompetence.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“Employees in a hierarchy do not really object to incompetence (Peter’s Paradox): they merely gossip about incompetence to mask their envy of employees who have Pull.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“All, from police forces to armed forces, are rigid hierarchies of salaried employees, and all are necessarily cumbered with incompetents who cannot do their existing work, cannot be promoted, yet cannot be removed.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“He must examine his objectives and see that true progress is achieved through moving forward to a better way of life, rather than upward to total life incompetence.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“In time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties.”
Laurence J. Peter


“The efficiency of a hierarchy is inversely proportional to its Maturity Quotient, M.Q. MQ = No. of employees at level of incompetence × 100 Total no. of employees in hierarchy. Obviously, when MQ reaches 100, no useful work will be accomplished at all.”  ― Laurence J. Peter


“Nobody understands how the incessant pressure from above and the incurable incompetence below make it utterly impossible for me to do an adequate job and keep a clean desk.” ― Laurence J. Peter



“Know, all the good that individuals find, Or God and Nature meant to mere Mankind, Reason’s whole pleasure, all the joys of Sense, Lie in three words, Health, Peace, and Competence.  (Ibid., 11. 77–80)” ― Laurence J. Peter


“Incompetence,” he argued, “knows no barrier of time or place.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“Given enough time—and assuming the existence of enough ranks in the hierarchy—each employee rises to, and remains at, his level of incompetence.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“The more conceited members of the race think in terms of an endless ascent—or promotion ad infinitum. I would point out that, sooner or later, man must reach his level of life-incompetence.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence” ― Laurence J. Peter


“Such an extreme policy will not be generally tolerated. So, to avoid the accumulation of incompetents, administrators have evolved the plan of promoting everyone, the incompetent as well as the competent. They find psychological justification for this policy by saying that it spares students the painful experience of failure.” ― Laurence J. Peter


“Man’s First Mistake: The Wheel” ― Laurence J. Peter


I am the Real Truckmaster!


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