Parkinson's Law

By Philip Perez,2018-01-08 21:39:00
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Parkinson's Law

Parkinson's Law is also known as "official disease" or "tissue paralysis"

1. What is Parkinson's Law

1 In 1958, Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a British historian and political scientist, published Parkinson's Law through a long period of research. After years of research, Parkinson found that the amount of time it takes a person to do something is so different: he can read a newspaper in 10 minutes or read it for half a day; a busy person can send a stack of postcards in 20 minutes, but an idle old lady can spend a whole day sending a postcard to a distant niece: Find a postcard for an hour, look for your glasses for an hour, look up your address for half an hour, write a greeting for an hour and a quarter... especially at work, work expands automatically, taking up all the time available to a person, and if time is ample, he slows down the pace of work or adds other items in order to use up all the time.

This leads to the conclusion that, in administration, there will be as many administrative bodies as there are pyramids, that the number of administrative staff will keep expanding, that everyone will be busy, but that the organization will become more and more ineffectively.This law is also known as the "pyramidal ascent" phenomenon.

In his book, he explains the causes and consequences of the bulge: an incompetent official may have three options: first, to apply for retirement and give up his post to someone who can do it; second, to have a competent person assist him in his work; and third, to appoint two people at a lower level than himself as assistants.

The first road was impossible, for it would lose a great deal of power; the second could not go, for the able man would be his own adversary; and it seemed only the third was most suitable; so two mediocre assistants shared his work, and he himself was at the top of his command. When two assistants are incompetent, they go up and get two incompetent assistants for themselves.By analogy, a bloated, overstaffed, fractious and inefficient leadership system is formed.

At the top, there are more Tier 1 than Tier 1 mediocrity, and the second creates a large, bloated management structure. Since managers are more or less destined to grow for an organization, this Parkinson's Law is bound to work. There is a formula:


K indicates a person who is required to send an assistant for personal purposes. The age difference is expressed in L from the time the person is appointed until he retires. M is the number of hours of labour consumed by the ventilation within the department. N is the managed unit. The X derived from this formula is the number of new employees to be replenished each year. Mathematicians, of course, know that to find a percentage you can just multiply it by X by 100 and divide it by Y, the total for the past year.Whatever the change in workload, the result of this formula is always between 5.17 and 6.56%.

Clearly, by analogy, a system of overlapping, overstaffed, fractious, inefficient leadership has emerged, and the law is not only present in official circles, but in many organizations.

2. Parkinson's Law

Parkinson's law tells us such a truth: incompetent executive head once occupy a leading position, complex institutions and excessive redundancy is inevitable, mediocre people occupy a high position of the phenomenon is inevitable, the entire administrative system will form a vicious expansion, into the quagmire difficult to extricate themselves. This will form a similar "flower" in the official field inserted in the "cow dung" phenomenon, flowers are like those in the company's leadership positions,cow dungis those mediocre company leaders, and this "cow dung" inserted in the "flower" on the harm is extremely large. For example, two months after a water conservancy bureau started paying wages on behalf of the bank, the employees discovered that there were 34 extra mouths and 34 non-water conservancy bureau employees had salary accounts for water conservancy bureau employees. After investigation, it was found that the 34 extra mouths were all relatives of the cadres of the Water Resources Bureau, 21 of whom were relatives of the children of cadres at or above the rank of deputy director of the Water Resources Bureau. Among them were the elderly with grandsons, the illiterate peasant women, and even nine students of colleges and secondary schools who were studying. Tongxin County, Xihaigu Prefecture, Ningxia, was once famous for "suffering the world", but that is where this Parkinson phenomenon is very common, in Tongxin County, some cadres of lawlessness, capable personnel can not be used, and those who are capable of mediocrity and a large number of supernumerary into the administrative institutions, resulting in this state-level impoverished counties to eat "food" the number of abnormal inflation. Redundancy has emptied budgets, subsidies, and even special funds have been misappropriated... This poverty corruption has led to a series of gaffes 11,000 people in this impoverished county of only 330,000 and more than 2,800 in the county's supernumerary staff. Surprisingly, there are a large number of "cadres who don't go up with their salaries", "cadres who rotate to work", "cadres of dolls" in their 10s and "cadres of preschoolers" in their 40s. There are only three gravestones in the county Martyrs' Cemetery. It is no wonder that the cynicism is that 20 live and 3 dead , that the inefficiency caused by excessive numbers of staff and institutions is almost endemic in some places, and that the crowd of diners resulting from the presence of a few lazy monks has become the chronic disease of these departments.

3. Conditions for Parkinson's Law to Work

For Parkinson's Law to work, the following four necessary conditions must be met:

First, there must be an organization, and the organization must have its internal mode of operation, in which management must have a certain place in the organization.There are many such organizations, large, various administrative departments, Parkinson's book gives the example of the British naval establishment; small, there is only one boss and one employee of the small company, there is a management organization.

The second is that an incompetent manager who seeks an assistant for his own ends does not itself have a monopoly on power. That is to say, power may be easily lost to the manager by doing something wrong or for other personnel reasons. This condition is indispensable, otherwise it cannot be explained why two people who are not as good as himself should be hired as assistants instead of one who is better than himself.

Third: this manager is extremely mediocre, his role in the organization incompetent, if competent do not have to find an assistant, otherwise it can not explain why he sought to find a few assistants to assist. Fourth: This organization must be a self-perfection of the organization, which is why it can continue to recruit new people to supplement the management team, also in line with Parkinson's formula for staffing growth.

Parkinson's law, then, must work in an organization that has a management function, a constant search for perfection, a mediocre management role that does not match its capabilities, and a population that does not have a monopoly of power. So Bounce Pipa, an organization that does not have a management function, such as an online virtual academic organization, an interest group, does not have the dreaded obsession with Parkinson's law. There is no need to bring in new people, nor is there a problem with Parkinson's Law. A man of absolute power is not afraid of being seized by others, nor will he go to an assistant who is more mediocre than himself. A man who can assume his managerial role has no need for an assistant, and there is no such thing as Parkinson's Law.

Through the analysis of the above conditions, it is clear that: the sense of crisis of power is the root of Parkinson's phenomenon. Engels once said, Since the birth of class society, man's abominable passions, greed, and lust for power have been the levers of history. It is natural for man, as a social and animal complex, to act for profit. Assuming that his vested interests are threatened, his instinct would tell him that he must not lose this vested interest, which is the internal cause of Parkinson's law. A holder of vested power who, in the event of a crisis of power, will not cede his power easily, nor will he easily establish an adversary for himself. Under the supervision of a conscience that is not harmful, it is natural and unreprehensible to choose two people who are not as good as himself as assistants.

For example, there is a private business owner (whose land is owned entirely by the owner of the business. The company has become somewhat famous as it has grown in size) who now feels increasingly overwhelmed with management. Obviously, someone is needed to assist him at this time. So the business owner sends out recruitment advertisements to all kinds of media and the applicants come in droves. Among them are people who have completed an MBA at a prestigious university in the US, and who have up to ten years of managerial experience (assuming, for whatever reason, that they are willing to come here), who have performed well and are clearly very effective candidates. Will this private entrepreneur hire him? The boss may think quickly: The company's land is mine, all the property rights are mine, which means this person comes to me as a "proletariat", he is purely working for me, well done I can continue to keep him, give him high treatment, well done I can dismiss him, no matter how good and hard he works, he can never sit in my boss position. After some calculation, this high-IQ, high-quality, high-capacity talent was left behind, the boss can be said to be obedient, completely unaffected by Parkinson's Law. This is a person with absolute power practice. Then the business continued to grow, and finally there was a breakthrough in business, a broadening of the scope of business, a proliferation of new problems, an overachiever who was only five years away from retirement because his studies were out of date and he did not find the time to "recharge." Now he felt overwhelmed and now needed an assistant to assist him, so he sent out recruitment advertisements to all kinds of media, and all kinds of talents poured in. Two of the bosses, a recent graduate student in public administration at a prestigious university, wrote many essays with deep theoretical knowledge and little practical experience, while the other had the skill and drive of a doer with advanced management concepts and operating experience.The boss was undecided and told him to choose, and the plan opened, and the result was that the graduate student was chosen.

Therefore, if we want to solve the crux of Parkinson's Law, we must put the human rights of management units in a fair, open, equal, scientific and reasonable employment system, free from human factors, the most important thing is not to use human rights in the hands of a person who may directly affect or violate the use of human rights, the problem can be solved.

Parkinson's Law is not a clich or a lack of originality; it paints a glossy picture of the current state of employment in some of our administrations. Some ill-intentioned chiefs, acting for the right and not shying away from their relatives who lack the basic qualities of business, cheat, or cheat, or trade references to their own departments. As a result, the "seven uncles" one by one in charge of the "Shuaiyin", relatives one by one occupied a key post, and one has the ability to do, or because some "ambition", or because some of the true ability "arrogance" a little, and by light, not, or even much repression, the result, dry as look, look less troublesome. A private executive head, for a number of imbecile opened the door, but the batches of promising people turned away, so mediocrity won over talent, "cow dung" got "flowers."

4. Parkinson's Law Example Analysis

For example, Parkinson said: When the official A Jun feels tired and busy with his work, he must find Mr. C and Mr. D, who are lower in rank and ability, to be his assistants and divide his work into two parts for C and D. When C is also tired and busy, A should consider to give C with two assistants; in order to balance, also give D with two assistants, so that a person's work becomes seven people to do, A Jun's position is also raised. Of course, the seven will create a lot of work for each other, such as a document to be drafted together seven people circle, each person's views should be considered, balanced, must not be perfunctory, subordinates have a conflict, he has to find ways to solve; promotion transfer, business trip, love interposition, salary housing, training successor..........

Parkinson used the statistics of the British Naval Department to prove:1914 Royal Navy officers and men 1.46 million, and the base administrative officers and clerks 3,249 people, by 1928, the rank and file down to 100,000 people, but the base administrative officers and clerks increased to 4,558 people, an increase of 40%.

Parkinson's Law profoundly reveals that the expansion of administrative power leads to overstaffed and inefficient "official contagion".

How to eliminate the negative effect of Parkinson's Law is a critical issue facing all levels of government and state-owned enterprises in China. In the early days of the founding of the People's Republic of China, there were only a few hundred administrative personnel in a county, but now there are thousands or even thousands of people. Huge administrative expenses must fall on each taxpayer, too much administrative intervention is bound to restrict the development of the economy. In the era of the planned economy, some communes had to make plans for how many centimeters of distance between each plant of corn and implement them at different levels, which was very hard indeed. However, due to many factors such as soil fertility, drought and waterlogging, no one would buy the leader's account.

There is also a real joke of the planned economy era, said a factory in Shanghai to build toilets, the report after layers of approval, funds finally approved, but only enough to build one, after factory leaders repeatedly study pat, first built a men's toilet, as for women's toilets, only next year again.....

Parkinson's law all affected the toilet construction, the convenient matter is inconvenient, really should arouse the attention, should discuss repeatedly the research, makes the practical plan to solve.

5. Another interpretation of Parkinson's Law

Parkinson's Law is a concept in time management.Parkinson's Law shows that as long as there is still time, work will continue to expand until all the time is used up.

6. "Parkinson's Law" as Seen from the Streamlining of China's Governmental Institutions

China has carried out dozens of government institutional reforms since 1949, of which the larger ones totaled six, and can also be seen as four big lean, swell, retrench, reflate cycles. The importance and complexity of streamlining government agencies and their staff can be seen in the fact that the growth rate of government agencies and their staff is much greater than the 6% or so estimated by Parkinson's Law.

How to Weaken and Jump Out of "Parkinson's Law"

Bearing in mind the experience and lessons of history, we should guard against backlash and avoid backsliding. The past six large-scale institutional reforms have formed a cycle of "leaner slimmer swell" and have never broken out of this cycle. Although the fifth and sixth institutional reforms have achieved a number of successes, such as the "three-definite" (defined function, defined structure, defined structure) plan. The experience and lessons of history must be kept firmly in mind, not one set of words, not one set of words, one set of deeds, one set of actions, and one set of rules of reform must be resolutely implemented.

(1) In the management of establishment, it is necessary to adhere to the combination of scientific management and management according to law

The scientific management of the establishment of institutions mainly manifests itself in the correct mastery and application of many scientific principles in practical work. In addition to the principle of "unified leadership and hierarchical management" in force in China, there are also the principles of organizational politics and organizational technology. The principle of organization is mainly to establish the purpose, direct the direction and stipulate the fundamental ways for the establishment of the administrative organs in our country, so as to ensure the socialist nature of the administrative organs in our country. The principle of organizational technology is mainly to ensure the scientific nature of the establishment of the administrative organs and to improve the efficiency and management efficiency of the operation of the organs. It includes the principle of overall effectiveness, the principle of management range, the principle of authority and responsibility, the principle of coordination and so on.

The Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the Organic Law of the State Council and the Organic Law of the Local People's Governments at all levels lay down the principles governing the purposes, functions and powers of the establishment of administrative organs and the staffing of such organs, which embody the essence of socialism and its scientific system. Only by adhering to the establishment of organs in accordance with the law can the administrative acts of these organs be given effect.

The establishment of administrative organs in accordance with the law is a necessary condition for ensuring the effectiveness of management, and the organizational regulations of our country stipulate strict procedures for the establishment, merger, increase or decrease of government organs, which must be carried out in strict accordance with the legal procedures.

It is necessary to strengthen inspection and supervision. It is necessary to check and supervise at all times whether the establishment, merger, increase or decrease of the administrative organs at all levels are reasonable and whether the staff are appropriately staffed. Those who violate the administrative regulations, create additional organs without authorization, and expand the establishment and raise the level must hold the relevant personnel accountable for their administrative responsibilities.

(2) Strict institutional limits

Setting a quota for the establishment of government institutions is an effective measure to achieve institutional streamlining. This measure is mainly applicable to the reform of local government institutions. Since the reform and opening up, four successive institutional reforms have adopted this approach to the establishment and streamlining of local government institutions.

Practice has proved that the unified regulation by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council of the setting quotas for local government work departments at all levels plays a positive role in controlling the overall size of government agencies at a macro level, overcoming the blind growth in the establishment of government agencies, and accomplishing the task of streamlining government agencies in a given period. Analyzed from the trend of development, the quota regulations of local government agencies are becoming more and more strict and lean, thus laying a good foundation for the establishment of leaner government agencies.

(3) Strict budget control

The budget for administrative funds shall be set aside and submitted to the people's congresses at the same level or their standing committees for deliberation and approval. To increase the number of organs and personnel, it is necessary to increase the budget for administrative funds, and the additional budget for administrative funds must also be examined and approved by the people's congresses at the same level or their standing committees.

7. Conclusion

The basic contradictions of the society decide that the government organs must be reformed unceasingly. As an important part of the superstructure, the government organs are subject to the movement of the basic contradictions of the society (the productive forces and relations of production, the contradiction of the economic base and the superstructure) and must be reformed constantly in order to adapt to the changes of the economic base. The absolute and permanent nature of the movement of the basic contradictions of the society determines the uninterrupted nature of the reform of the government organs. Advances in science and technology also objectively require continuous reform of government institutions. Government institutions themselves need continuous reform in order to overcome inertia and enhance vitality. In short, "Parkinson's Law" as a tool to discover and reveal the shortcomings of government institutions, its role with the development of society and the relevant aspects of government institutions continue to reform and improve the smaller, until finally disappeared. The weirdness of bloated government institutions and bloated personnel can certainly be broken, and a modern government with streamlined institutions, excellent efficiency and strong leadership will certainly be realized in the near future!