Peter Principle

An observation that in an organizational hierarchy, every employee will rise or get promoted to his or her level of incompetence. The Peter Principle is based on the notion that employees will get promoted as long as they are competent, but at some point will fail to get promoted beyond a certain job because it has become too challenging for them. Employees rise to their level of incompetence and stay there. Over time, every position in the hierarchy will be filled by someone who is not competent enough to carry out his or her new duties.

The Peter Principle was first observed by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and published in his book "The Peter Principle" in 1968. Dr. Peter also states that a promotion to the higher-ranking job position may not necessarily reveal the employee's incompetence, but rather the new position may require different skills the employee does not possess. Dr. Peter sums up the Peter Principle with the saying: "the cream rises until it sours." The Peter Principal can be a problem for businesses which can be solved through continued education. Even with proper employee training, the Peter Principal predicts the employee will eventually get to a position where they are incompetent because of further promotion.


Investment dictionary. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Peter Principle — ☆ Peter Principle n. [after The Peter Principle (1968) by L. J. Peter & R. Hull] the facetious proposition that each employee in an organization tends to be promoted until reaching his or her level of incompetence …   English World dictionary

  • Peter Principle — 1968, in a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence, named for (and by) Laurence Johnston Peter (1919 1990) Canadian born U.S. educationalist and author, who described it in his book of the same name (1969) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Peter Principle — For the BBC sitcom, see The Peter Principle (TV series). The Peter Principle states that in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence , meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which… …   Wikipedia

  • Peter Principle —    The Peter principle states: In every hierarchy, whether it be government or business, each employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence, every post tends to be filled by an employee incompetent enough to execute his duties. This, in the …   Dictionary of eponyms

  • Peter principle — /ˈpitə prɪnsəpəl/ (say peetuh prinsuhpuhl) noun the theory that, in a hierarchy, each employee tends to rise to a level just beyond his or her level of competence. {formulated in the humorous treatise The Peter Principle (1969) by Laurence J… …   Australian English dictionary

  • peter principle —  Tendency of management to promote people one level above their competence. Dr. Lawrence Peter of the University of Southern California coined the term.  ► “The Peter Principle may be responsible for some employees’ performance problems.”… …   American business jargon

  • Peter Principle — noun the principle that members of a hierarchy are promoted until they reach the level at which they are no longer competent. Origin 1960s: named after the Canadian educationalist Laurence J. Peter …   English new terms dictionary

  • peter principle — n. joc. the principle that members of a hierarchy are promoted until they reach the level at which they are no longer competent. Etymology: L. J. Peter, its propounder, b. 1919 …   Useful english dictionary

  • Peter principle — A principle which states that employees tend to be promoted to a level above the level at which they are competent and efficient, a process which creates incompetent senior management in any organization …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Peter Principle — noun Etymology: Laurence J. Peter died 1990 American (Canadian born) educator Date: 1968 an observation: in a hierarchy employees tend to rise to the level of their incompetence …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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