Parkinson's law


Also found in: Dictionary, Idioms, Wikipedia.
Related to Parkinson's law: Peter Principle, Murphy's Law

Parkinson's Law

A somewhat tongue-in-cheek adage stating: "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." This is used in project management and in other situations to describe why projects are often completed so close to deadline.

Parkinson's law

an observation by English management writer C Northcote Parkinson (1909-93) that ‘work expands to fill the time available for its completion’. As a result employees generally feel overworked whatever their actual workload. A solution favoured by managers and officials alike is the appointment of more subordinates to relieve them of some of their workload.

However, the greater the number of staff the more difficult the task of COORDINATION. Hence there is a tendency for certain coordinative mechanisms, such as committees, to proliferate. This in turn generates additional work which is reflected in pressure to increase employee numbers even further. Hence organizations have a tendency to grow in staff numbers even though the base workload may be unchanging. Parkinson's writings are generally viewed as humorous and perceptive asides on organizational life rather than propositions to be empirically tested.

Parkinson's law

an observation by Professor C. Northcote Parkinson suggesting that work expands according to the time available in which to do it. If this observation holds, then the inefficiency it creates poses a serious organizational problem for businesses of any significant size. See ORGANIZATION THEORY, X-INEFFICIENCY.
References in periodicals archive ?
The administrators will realize that the academic colleagues are aware of Parkinson's Law being operated and would not like to be exposed.
As Parkinson's Law reveals, a rising number of civil servants seldom reflects a growing volume of work to be done.
Parkinson's law works for pasts independently of the character of their incumbents ...'
But his major claim to fame was Parkinson's Law (1957), which began a delightful series of books about how organizations make decisions, particularly bad ones.
A modern-day Parkinson's Law decrees that the more press officers there are, the less the voters believe the politicians.
Suddenly, they are given the task of running a program (a la Parkinson's Law).
In the spatial equivalent of Parkinson's Law where ' work expands so as to fill the time available', many manufacturing processes spread out to encompass any unused floor space they may have.
Increasing Productivity with Decreasing Time Limits: A Field Replication of Parkinson's Law. Journal of Applied Psychology, 60, 524-526.
What you can say for Venables is that he's one of the few who doesn't conform with Parkinson's Law - that work expands to fill the time allotted to it.
The most common ploy, adding extra lanes to existing highways, fails every time as it runs into the transportation-policy cognate of Parkinson's Law: traffic volume expands to meet maximum capacity.
Recently I reread Parkinson's Law. At 91, he'd not be surprised to learn that his laws are alive, well and thriving.
Full browser ?