an exercise in miscellany

Parkinson’s Law

In technology & innovatons, wild card on March 2, 2013 at 7:46 am

doc literaly bound in red tapeParkinson’s law is the adage first articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as part of the first sentence of a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

The current form of the law is not that which Parkinson refers to by name in the article. Rather, he assigns to the term a mathematical equation describing the rate at which bureaucracies expand over time. Much of the essay is dedicated to a summary of purportedly scientific observations supporting his law, such as the increase in the number of employees at the Colonial Office while Great Britain‘s overseas empire declined. He explains this growth by two forces: “An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals” and  “Officials make work for each other.” He notes in particular that the total of those employed inside a bureaucracy rose by 5-7% per year “irrespective of any variation in the amount of work (if any) to be done”.

via Parkinson’s Law

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