Browse Definitions :
Definition

Peter principle

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

The Peter principle is an observation about a commonly-seen pattern in hierarchical corporate cultures in which employees are promoted based on current performance rather than aptitude for the roles they are being considered for.

According to the Peter principle, employees continue to be promoted as long as they perform well in their roles; as a result, they rise to their level of incompetence: the point at which they fail to do a good job. That pattern negatively impacts employee productivity and corporate performance because it tends to mean that people end up in positions where they are incapable of doing a good job and that, furthermore, they tend to stay in those positions because -- since they aren't performing well -- they are not promoted. Eventually, as the Peter principle plays out, all positions in an organization could be held by individuals who are incapable of fulfilling their roles.

Laurence J. Peter first formulated and named the phenomenon in 1969, in a satirical book "The Peter Principle," where he stated that "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence ... in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties ... Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence."

Peter called the tendency to "kick employees upstairs" (promote them to management positions) percussive sublimation and suggested it was a method used to keep them from hampering more productive workers. Percussive sublimation, in turn, is related to the Dilbert principle, which maintains that the real purpose of the hierarchy is to provide managerial roles that will minimize the ability of those employees to interfere with the actual work being accomplished by more productive staff members.

This was last updated in October 2015

Continue Reading About Peter principle

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • compliance audit

    A compliance audit is a comprehensive review of an organization's adherence to regulatory guidelines.

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

  • Whistleblower Protection Act

    The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a law that protects federal government employees in the United States from ...

SearchSecurity

  • orphan account

    An orphan account, also referred to as an orphaned account, is a user account that can provide access to corporate systems, ...

  • voice squatting (skill squatting)

    Voice squatting is an attack vector for voice user interfaces (VUIs) that exploits homonyms (words that sound the same but are ...

  • WPA3

    WPA3, also known as Wi-Fi Protected Access 3, is the third version of the security certification program developed by the Wi-Fi ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity policy

    Business continuity policy is the set of standards and guidelines an organization enforces to ensure resilience and proper risk ...

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • warm site

    A warm site is a type of facility an organization uses to recover its technology infrastructure when its primary data center goes...

SearchStorage

  • cache memory

    Cache memory, also called CPU memory, is high-speed static random access memory (SRAM) that a computer microprocessor can access ...

  • disk array

    A disk array, also called a storage array, is a data storage system used for block-based storage, file-based storage or object ...

  • enterprise storage

    Enterprise storage is a centralized repository for business information that provides common data management, protection and data...

Close