Peter Principle: for-profit Corporate vs not-for-profit Government jobs

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sat, 12/25/2010 - 18:36.

The Peter Principle is the principle that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence".  In other words, workers are tools which are used for as wide a range of tasks as that tool will perform adequately.    You can use a Crescent wrench to loosen a nut which doesn’t have rusted threads, but a Crescent wrench won’t transmit as much torque as a 6 point  wrench – so when the nut begins to strip, the Crescent wrench has become incompetent to perform the job.

 
At a for-profit corporation (particularly one with constant employee feed back and profit sharing like Lincoln Electric)  the Peter Principle is perhaps operational because there is  motivation among all members of the hierarchy to advance productivity for their personal benefit and for the benefit of the group. .    
 
In a not-for-profit governmental hierarchy – like Cuyahoga County or the City of Cleveland – there is no motivation to advance productivity for the  personal benefit of each employee  and for the benefit of the governmental/citizen group.    
 
So what does this mean relative to the Peter Principle?
 
Could it be that the Peter Principle works in reverse in a not-for-profit governmental hierarchy?   Could it be that in a governmental hierarchy every  competent employee tends to sink?  
 
In the next few days I will relate an imaginary personal experience which would tend to confirm the Sinking of Competent Employees in a Governmental Hierarchy.
 
In the mean time, what are your thoughts and experiences?
 
PS:  there is also the Dilbert Principle...
 
 

 

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