The Peter Principle

Avoiding Promoting People to a Level of Incompetence

Why some never quite seem to get it right...

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Have you ever dealt with someone who just isn't up to the job they're doing and wondered, "How on earth did he/she get that job?"

If so, you've probably seen the Peter Principle in action.

The principle states that, in hierarchical organizations, people generally get promoted up the hierarchy till they reach one level above their level of competence. This phenomenon was first crystallized by Dr Laurence J Peter, a sociologist, lecturer and business consultant, in his 1968 book "The Peter Principle".

While the book is written in a lighthearted vein, there's more than a grain of truth in its well-researched analysis of one of the main flaws inherent in hierarchical structures.

Understanding the Peter Principle

There are various features of the design of hierarchical organizations that make them places where the Peter Principle can easily take hold. First,

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