Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Peter Principle” as Want to Read:
The Peter Principle
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Peter Principle

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,298 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
Why is the human race foundering in a morass of occupational, academic, and administrative inefficiency? Here, at last, is the answer in the delightful, dead-pan humor of this book.

Not only do the authors reveal why the world is so completely screwed up, but they provide proven techniques for creative control of personal, social, and business problems. They analyze the re
Hardcover, 0 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Amereon Ltd (first published 1969)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,800)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 22, 2010 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The other day, out of nowhere, one of my sons asked me, “What’s the Peter Principle?” I scrambled together something about people tending to get promoted until they reach their level of incompetence. Then, of course, curiosity compelled me to find the book. And I did—quite a feat considering the number of books we own and the lack of any discernable organization. It was, as I remembered, a slim, black hardcover; it was also the 1969 edition, the year it was first published. Even if the book were
This was (mostly) a cute and charming read with some interesting insights into the inefficiency you often encounter among businesses and individual workers. Basically, Peter says, if workers do well (and especially if they have "pull"), they will keep being promoted until they reach a point where they can no longer do their job well. But once that happens, they usually won't be demoted unless they're exceptionally incompetent. Rather, they will remain in their positions. To compensate for their ...more
Jan 16, 2016 Tucker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tucker by: Marclieberman
Shelves: finished
On the principle that employees are promoted to positions of increasing complexity and responsibility until they can no longer perform their jobs, at which point they remain indefinitely in the position at which they are incompetent, Peter concludes: "Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence." He also observes that employees at both extreme ends of the competence bell curve are not allowed to live. "Ordinary incompetence, as we have seen, is no ...more
Sep 04, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Long before Dilbert, there was The Peter Principle.

I hear it referenced every so often, though most quoting it have never actually read it. I decided to at least remedy that for myself.

Published in 1969, it still remains shockingly accurate. Despite it's exaggerated and humorous approach, it's also sobering and serious when you can immediately think of *exact* work scenarios that match his examples.

Definitely a classic. Like the best of Dilbert, prepare to cringe with it's accuracy - and perhaps
Kelly  Schuknecht
Feb 29, 2012 Kelly Schuknecht rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
The idea of the Peter Principle is that "In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence." When people tend to do their job well, they are eligible for promotion and that cycle continues until they are promoted into a role for which they are incompetent to perform the duties. At that point they have reached their "final placement." They are no longer eligible for further promotions because they have reached their level of incompetence.

According to Dr. Peter, "work is acc
The main point of this book can be explained in a single sentence, and doesn't need much elaboration. Nonetheless, the book as a whole doesn't just rehash that one point; it's tongue-in-cheek funny and worth reading to the end.
Virgilio Machado
O Princípio de Peter identifica a situação comum com que todos os gestores seniores têm que lidar mais cedo ou mais tarde. Enuncia que «Numa Hierarquia Todo o Empregado Tende a Ser Promovido até ao seu Nível de Incompetência». Este problema é especialmente difícil de resolver em empresas jovens com crescimento rápido. A medida que uma empresa cresce desde o seu estado de «startup» até ao de organização estabelecida, os empregados são obrigados a desenvolver as suas capacidades de gestão e organi ...more
Wiranto Partosudirdjo
Ini buku ke 2 yang merubah hidup saya. Buku ini saya baca atas rekomendasi teman saya Paul Gunadi pada waktu saya dapat assignment pekerjaan di Caltex, Rumbai, Pakanbaru dari tahun 1976 s/d 1980. Saya baca buku ini pinjam di Perpustakaan Caltex, Rumbai, Pekanbaru.

Buku ini adalah hasil survey yang dilakukan oleh Laurence J. Peter pada birokrasi yang ada di pemerintahan USA. Dari survey tersebut dia membuat theory yang terkenal dengan nama: The Peter Principle. Yang saya ingat dari membaca buku in
Jun 12, 2009 Justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Dr. Laurence Peter was born in Vancouver, Canada during the year of 1919, the world was not prepared for his revolutionary doctrine. Today we suffer the consequences because few have heeded his warning, we all think we are the exception to his principle. I’m not talking about a prophet or spiritualist, I’m talking about one of the most brilliant analysts of modern society.

With this simple phrase on p.15 of my edition of The Peter Principle he explained nearly every problem the human species
Mar 06, 2013 MisterFweem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book a dozen or so years ago -- in college, actually, so more like 20 years ago -- and thought it was pretty funny then. Re-reading it now, well, it was a different experience. Though it calls to us from the year 1969, much of what it says rings true today -- too true, as I recognize that I once hit my level of incompetence as a newspaper editor and then moved on to a different career where my skill set (and I don't mean the writing, I mean other skills that will go unmentioned ...more
Don Stanton
Old thinking from an old era and limited by scope and diminished by a time and the resiliency of human nature.
An excellent book to read outdated series of motivation and success, how to name it today I would call it "Puff the Magic Peter Principle"
I have seen too many people in my life who excelled beyond on themselves, in spite of themselves, against all odds of success.
The major 2 things missing from the Peter Principle all are the to determination of self worth and the lack of the human soul
Paula Dembeck
Oct 27, 2015 Paula Dembeck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a classic volume of business literature which presents an unexpected truth grounded in every bureaucratic organization. It describes very simply why the organizational hierarchical model fails time and again to facilitate work that needs to be done because its structure inadvertently makes incompetence rather than competence its goal.

The principle states that everyone is eventually promoted to their level of incompetence. Those who do well at the jobs they are presently in, are reworded
Jul 07, 2015 Taylan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kitabın yayım tarihi üzerinden oldukça vakit geçmesine rağmen, kitapta değinilen sorunların bugün de devam ettiği göz önünde bulundurulduğunda kitabın zamana karşı yenilmediğini görüyoruz.
Özellikle belli bir kurumun,organizasyonun,firmanın özetle hiyerarşik bir yapının parçası olan kişiler için faydalı olacağını düşünmekle beraber bence hemen herkesin göz atmasının gerektiği bir kitap olduğuna inanıyorum çünkü kitapta işlenen konular bütün toplumu ilgilendiriyor ve peter ilkesi'nde oldukça ufuk
Adama Coulibaly
Apr 12, 2015 Adama Coulibaly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book with great case studies

I really love this book: very interesting to read with several real life case studies that are sometime hilarious. For example a receptionist has returned a mail to the sender to be resent by post to ensure safe delivery as per company policy.

Peter classified incompetence in 4 categories and how they manifest themselves:

1. Physical incompetence. This is what we usually focus on,

2. Social incompetence,

3. Emotional incompetence, and

4. Mental incompetence.

Lawrence Kelley
Mar 29, 2010 Lawrence Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inherited this book from my dad, that he first purchased and read in the early-to-mid 1970's, I think during that period's tough economy. After holding onto it for years, started reading it myself around 2003 or so, after getting laid-off from a high-paying robotics industry dream-job. :) However, I feel Fitzgerald was wrong about there not being "Second Chances in American Life". Or at least that's what I tell myself in 2010. Now that I'm a dad myself, I am indeed the Eternal Optimist. :)
Apr 09, 2015 Clif rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although rampantly sexist (seems the author only thought women could become housewives, secretaries or school teachers), it is a very amusing take on job culture and how we are all working towards our inevitable level of incompetence ("Final Placement"). "The Peter Principle" gives multiple case studies and definitions to current types of employee behaviors: The key to happiness is avoiding promotion; a tidy desk is most likely a sign of job incompetence; working late hours is a sign of guilt fr ...more
Apr 16, 2009 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AN extremely enlightening, extremely depressing book. Once you read it, it's all too easy to see it at work in every facet of western society, including the financial crisis of 2008-9.

Every person in getting a management or administration degree ought to be required to read this.
Eustacia Tan
Along with Parkinson's Law ("work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"), the Peter Principle has got to be one of the most famous unofficial 'rules' of business. While I haven't been able to read Parkinson's Law yet, I did manage to get my hands on The Peter Principle.

Simply put, the Peter Principle is this: "In a hierarchy, every employee will rise to his (or her) level of incompetence". Or in other words, you will be promoted until you become inept at your job, and then
Forrester Dobson
Oct 26, 2014 Forrester Dobson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would recommend this book to everyone in management, some management cannot see the wood for the tree's
Apr 29, 2014 Erik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book has never changed my life before. Sure i knew the tagline, sure i read about it on wikipedia and its relation to the dilbert principle. It was a cheery thought and interesting food for thought but didn't think too much about this. Found this book and the 2 that came after it at a local neighborhood book sale fundraiser for 50 cents each. Im a cog in a huge corporate hierarchy and so the subject was of specific relevance, so i gave the yellow'd book a shot.

What Larry Peter discusses, in a
Apr 04, 2014 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Peter Principle is an interesting and provocative little book. While Peter is probably right about a lot of things, it's hard to take him seriously with all the snide, snarky jokes and the ridiculous language he employs. The made-up terms are purposeful, but I found that they actually derailed my understanding at times due to sheer absurdity.

On the whole, the Peter Principle certainly has some truth in it. It is logical that individuals may be promoted due to success in one role to a role t
Jan Ruusuvuori
Tragically, sarcastically, entertainingly accurate
Sep 07, 2014 Saranya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scarily accurate.
Not as good as I had heard it was, but still decent. Lots of examples (many true, many unrealistic/exaggerated, many humorous). I know someone who went from a high school principal to a high school teacher, and someone else who went from a church elder to a church deacon. Do their examples defy the Peter Principle? (See p. 128.) Furthermore, some people are fired for their incompetence. Overall, Peter seemed cynical about work and people's competence, and I suppose that I'm either too idealistic ...more
Cathy Allen
Some books develop a life of their own outside of what is actually in the pages. Machiavelli's The Prince is like that... people think they know what it says, but then when you read it you find out it is actually quite different than what you'd heard. A more recent example is Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, which, contrary to what I've seen in the news or on social media, neither bashes men nor criticizes women who work at home.

The Peter Principle, on the other hand, is exactly what the popular cult
Feb 14, 2015 KennyO rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence."
The writing is humorous but the topic is substantial. I lost my hardcover copy many years ago and replaced it with a paperback that is now yellowed and becoming brittle. It must be time to haunt the secondhand book stores for a replacement hardcover. If you're still living in our society, this book is valuable in your pursuit of learning to deal with those who've fulfilled their place as described by The Peter Principle.
Jul 13, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A satirical piece that is touted as the seminal work in the science of hierarchiology and the theory of incompetence. Many truisms in this piece that you have to chuckle to keep from crying.

Best quotes: "in a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence" (p. 25), "in every hierarchy the cream rises until it sours" (p. 35), "in most hierarchies, super-competence is more objectionable than incompetence" (p. 45), "How can the ability to lead depend on the abili
Oct 25, 2013 Kamal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bob Sutton has an insightful review of this book for The Guardian.

I don't know if there's too much more I can add, except the following:

Dr. Peter's approach to the social world is pessimistic, sardonic, and frequently, utterly hilarious. However, the humour only goes so far. The more you read of this famous treatise on social hierarchies, the more you realize that Peter has indeed struck upon a true insight into contemporary culture. At times, Peter is prophetic, as with his section near the end
Thom Swennes
Sep 18, 2013 Thom Swennes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
This book was first published in 1969, around the time I first read it. Then, as now, it made a dramatic impression on me. I’m sure many people would argue that this book belongs in the fiction section of any bookstore or library but I feel sure it is generally found in the non-fiction. If you need proof that the Peter Principal is based on cold hard facts, you only have to look at the thousands of politicians, presidents and un-elected world leaders to realize that the level of personal incompe ...more
Tim Burrington
Sep 22, 2013 Tim Burrington rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second time that I've read this book and it's gotten better with age. This is still excusing some of the content that is evidence of when the book was written (women being competent housewives and such).
With very few exceptions the content will strike a chord with anybody in their professional life. There are times where I've considered that the entire book may be a comic piece, but then there are too many concepts that it describes which are readily observable in day to day life.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 93 94 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • 21 Dirty Tricks at Work: How to Win at Office Politics
  • Parkinson's Law
  • Don't Bring It to Work: Breaking the Family Patterns That Limit Success
  • Crazy Bosses: Fully Revised and Updated
  • Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track--And Keeping It There
  • Blur: The Speed Of Change In The Connected Economy
  • Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the Tactics Behind China's Production Game
  • The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't
  • The Complete Yes Minister
  • The Informed Heart
  • New Rules for the New Economy
  • The Circle of Innovation: You Can't Shrink Your Way to Greatness
  • The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions
  • Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Principles and Practices
  • Genesis through Revelation
  • Murphy's Law: Complete
  • Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn't Work and Other Surprising Lessons fromthe Latest Brain Science
  • Oh What A Lovely War
Dr. Laurence J. Peter was an educator and "hierarchiologist," best known to the general public for the formulation of the Peter Principle.
More about Laurence J. Peter...

Share This Book

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” 1307 likes
“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” 9 likes
More quotes…