• The Peter Principle Revisited: A Computational Study

    linked to by 2 published by arXiv on Thu 2nd Jul 09
    Garofalo, Cesare, Rapisarda, Andrea, Pluchino, Alessandro

    OAI oai:arXiv.org:0907.0455

    Comment: final version published on Physica A, 10 pages, 4 figures, 1 table (for on-line supplementary material see the link: http://www.ct.infn.it/cactus/peter-links.html) In the late sixties the Canadian psychologist Laurence J. Peter advanced anapparently paradoxical principle, named since then after him, which can besummarized as follows: {\it 'Every new member in a hierarchical organizationclimbs the hierarchy until he/she reaches his/her level of maximumincompetence'}. Despite its apparent unreasonableness, such a principle wouldrealistically act in any organization where the mechanism of promotion rewardsthe best members and where the mechanism at their new level in the hierarchicalstructure does not depend on the competence they had at the previous level,usually because the tasks of the levels are very different to each other. Herewe show, by means of agent based simulations, that if the latter two featuresactually hold in a given model of an organization with a hierarchicalstructure, then not only is the Peter principle unavoidable, but also it yieldsin turn a significant reduction of the global efficiency of the organization.Within a game theory-like approach, we explore different promotion strategiesand we find, counterintuitively, that in order to avoid such an effect the bestways for improving the efficiency of a given organization are either to promoteeach time an agent at random or to promote randomly the best and the worstmembers in terms of competence.
  • Posts discussing this item

    • Peter Principle

      posted to Kids Prefer Cheese on Sun 3rd Oct 10

      Peter Principle is an old laugh line.But it is plausible, it turns out.Universities promote administrators WELL beyond their level of incompetence. After all, I was a chair for ten years. Just THINK about that.....scary.Universities, it appears, actually use

    • Solving the Peter Principle? One Word: "Darts"

      posted to Paul Kedrosky's Infectious Greed on Fri 3rd Jul 09

      There is a fun new working paper out from some Italian scientists that models the Peter Principle. The principle says, of course, that people climb in an organization until they reach their level of maximum incompetence. How would that happen? Well, the authors