Browse Definitions :
Definition

Parkinson's law

Parkinson's law is the tendency for the amount of work required for something to increase so that it consumes any amount of time that may be allotted to it. The concept is often generalized to refer to the tendency for any available capacity in a given system to be used.

The implication is that no matter how extensive your resources, the demands on them will grow to ensure they're depleted. Parkinson's law has implications for many areas of business, including project management, time management, resource allocation, storage capacity planning and requirements analysis.

Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a British Naval historian and author, observed that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion," based on his experience in the British Civil Service. Parkinson's law first appeared in a 1955 essay published in The Economist. Parkinson expanded on his principle in two books, Parkinson's Law And Other Studies in Administration and Parkinson's Law: Or The Pursuit of Progress,both published in 1957.

Here are a few examples of Parkinson's law in various contexts:

  • Applications will usually consume all available bandwidth.
  • The volume of data tends to grow to fill storage capacity.
  • Project requirements typically increase to the extent that resources are fully used up.
  • Software expands to use up system memory.
  • Financial outlay will increase to exhaust any usable budget.

Horstman's corollary to Parkinson's law maintains the converse, the less commonly observed phenomenon that work contracts to fit within the time allocated for it. Another less familiar principle, Parkinson's law of triviality, refers to people's tendency to devote a large amount of time to unimportant details while essential tasks are not getting the time they require.

This was last updated in April 2015

Continue Reading About Parkinson's law

SearchCompliance
  • pure risk

    Pure risk refers to risks that are beyond human control and result in a loss or no loss with no possibility of financial gain.

  • risk reporting

    Risk reporting is a method of identifying risks tied to or potentially impacting an organization's business processes.

  • risk avoidance

    Risk avoidance is the elimination of hazards, activities and exposures that can negatively affect an organization and its assets.

SearchSecurity
  • script kiddie

    Script kiddie is a derogative term that computer hackers coined to refer to immature, but often just as dangerous, exploiters of ...

  • cipher

    In cryptography, a cipher is an algorithm for encrypting and decrypting data.

  • What is risk analysis?

    Risk analysis is the process of identifying and analyzing potential issues that could negatively impact key business initiatives ...

SearchHealthIT
SearchDisasterRecovery
  • What is risk mitigation?

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • fault-tolerant

    Fault-tolerant technology is a capability of a computer system, electronic system or network to deliver uninterrupted service, ...

  • synchronous replication

    Synchronous replication is the process of copying data over a storage area network, local area network or wide area network so ...

SearchStorage
  • gigabyte (GB)

    A gigabyte (GB) -- pronounced with two hard Gs -- is a unit of data storage capacity that is roughly equivalent to 1 billion ...

  • MRAM (magnetoresistive random access memory)

    MRAM (magnetoresistive random access memory) is a method of storing data bits using magnetic states instead of the electrical ...

  • storage volume

    A storage volume is an identifiable unit of data storage. It can be a removable hard disk, but it does not have to be a unit that...

Close