THE PETER PRINCIPLE: Why Things Go Wrong by Dr. Laurence J. & Raymond Hull Peter


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Following closely the wares of Mr. Parkinson of the Law, Mr. Potter of gamesmanship, Dr. Peter presents an elaborately amusing series of principles and postulates concerning hierarchies--academic, business administrative, and even political. Noticing from an early age the reigning incompetence at all levels of every hierarchy, Dr. Peter began a pioneering study of the promotion pattern of employee movement and subsequent character of growth, with structural hardening of the arteries. He presents the Peter Principle: ""In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence."" Take the case of Dorothy D. Ditto, competent as a student, who always did as she was told, who, as a teacher, refused to clear her classroom when the water pipe burst, because she had been taught to react only to the emergency bell, as yet unrung. Or Mr. N. Becket, the popular science teacher, who, when promoted to head of the science department, was obviously incompetent at keeping records and ordering supplies. And so on. Then follows an ornate explication of exceptions: ""accelerating elevation through pull""; a list of great ""proto-hierarchiologists"" from literature; something sad called ""Peter's Spiral,"" in which the employee perpetuates the hierarchy, etc. Inevitably strained at times, with the compulsive snicker of donnish wit, nevertheless Dr. Peter is a worthy member of the cabal of Potter-Parkinson--and Peter.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1968
Publisher: Morrow