Parkinson's Law

Parkinson's Law

Parkinson's Law is based on the essay of the British Naval Historian, Cyril Northcote Parkinson (1909-1993), who made a hard-hitting commentary on human organizations. His basic premise -- "work expands to fill the time available" -- became a very powerful tool in understanding the never-ending needs and wants of human beings.

Prof. C. Northcote Parkinson authored about sixty books, and the most popular was the Parkinson's Law: The Pursuit of Progress (1957) which became a bestseller upon its publication. He first presented his essay in the University of Singapore in 1955, and received novelty as a satirical critique on how government bureaucracies get to bloat over time. His book became one of the foundational texts in public administration, management theory, human behavior and organizational management among others. The Parkinson's Law evolved into other eponymous laws, which are based on the first premise (also known as the First Law):

Parkinson's First Law:
Work expands or contracts in order to fill the time available.

Parkinson's Second Law:
Expenditures rise to meet income.

Parkinson's Third Law:
Expansion means complexity; and complexity decay.

Parkinson's Fourth Law:
The number of people in any working group
tends to increase regardless
of the amount of work to be done.

Parkinson's Fifth Law:
If there is a way to delay an important decision
the good bureaucracy, public or private, will find it.

Parkinson's Law of Science:
The progress of science varies inversely
with the number of journals published.

Parkinson's Law of Delay:
Delay is the deadliest form of denial.

Parkinson's Law of Data:
Data expands to fill the space available.

Parkinson's Law of Meetings:
(also the Law of Triviality)

The time spent in a meeting on an item
is inversely proportional to its value (up to a limit).

Parkinson's Law of 1,000:
An enterprise employing more than 1,000 people
becomes a self-perpetuating empire,
creating so much internal work
that it no longer needs any contact
with the outside world.

Parkinson's Coefficient of Inefficiency:
The size of a committee or other decision-making body
grows at which it becomes completely inefficient.

Mrs. Parkinson's Law:
Heat produced by pressure expands
to fill the mind available, from which
it can pass only to a cooler mind.

INSIGHTS: Parkinson's Law applies with Pareto Rule, as time expands to 80% to finish a work of 20%. As it expands, work can bring people to their stupidity and inutility by Peter Principle. Some managers assign so many work to their personnel to maximize time (expansion), but this could also dangerously result in Peter Principle. Others tend to pace the work loads, but this could lead to under-utilization (contraction). Ron Stone resonates: “It's kind of a balancing act!"


Uris, Auren. 1986. 101 of the Greatest Ideas in Management. USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Parkinson's Law at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson%27s_Law

Parkinson's Law at http://berglas.org/Articles/parkinsons_law.pdf

Parkinson's Law at http://www.answers.com/topic/parkinson-s-law

Heretical Press at http://www.heretical.com/miscella/parkinsl.html

Parkinson's Laws at http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=740233&displaytype=printable

How to Use Parkinson's Law at http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/how-to-use-parkinsons-law-to-your-advantage.html