Parkinson's Law

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What is Parkinson's Law? Meaning.

Parkinson's Law book cover

According to Parkinson's Law, "work expands to fill the time available for its completion". Parkinsons Law is applicable at both:

  • The individual level to describe personal productivity/efficiency.
    Parkinson in a 1955 Economist article provides the following simple example: "An elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and despatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent in finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half-an-hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar-box in the next street."
  • A group/organization level to describe team/organizational productivity/efficiency.
    Managers want to multiply subordinates, not rivals, and they make work for each other. Here Parkinson's Law works in concerto with Social Loafing in making groups of people and even entire organizations less productive.

As a result, companies are growing just for the sake of growth in numbers of employees and people become busier and busier, even though they are neither becoming more successful, nor are they making (more) money.

Two Factors Underlying Parkinson's Law

Parkinson says there are two factors that underlie the general tendency to which his law gives definition:

  • The Law of Multiplication of Subordinates: An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals.
  • The Law of Multiplication of Work: Officials make work for each other.

Original Sources

This humorous, cynical look at corporate life was originally published by C. Northcote Parkinson in a satirical essay for The Economist in 1955 entitled "Parkinson's Law", followed by a book with the same title.

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🔥 How to Combat Parkinson's Law as an Individual
You may have already heard about the term: "Parkinson's Law". It is a common business management term in the realm of Productivity which states that our work expands so as to fill the time available f...
Comments2 comments
topic Parkinson Law is valid
Yes, any company makes itself bigger than it can. It makes its own growth with all production factors, without competing, without efficient labor and intelligence productivity analysis. It seems odd, ...
topic Parkinson's Law in Call Centers
I still question the validity of this approach in a real time servicing enviroment ?? any thoughts...
Comments1 comments

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Time Management for Business Managers

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Compare with: Bureaucracy  |  Peter Principle  |  Organizational Configurations  |  Time Management  |  Organization Chart

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