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Parkinson’s Law

By HWA | Publish On: December 27, 2012 | Posted In:


Parkinson’s Law is an important law or theory which is useful in almost all business organizations and for the human resource management. In an ideal situation, an organization is comprised of skilled and experienced employees. The goal of most organizations is to maximize the output of each employee so that the output of the whole organization increases in the long run.

This is the general or the logical conclusion at which most people arrive at and hence think that almost all the organizations are following this philosophy. But, contrary to popular belief, the real world situation is not so. Here, we must also know human psychology as well because, human psychology plays a major role in all organizations in the most subtle manner.

Parkinson’s Law

This is where Parkinson’s Law or theory comes into picture. Parkinson’s Law can be further divided into two laws viz.,

  • The law of multiplication of subordinates and
  • The law of multiplication of work.

Parkinson was of the view that most employees in any organization view that they are overloaded with work. This could be real or imaginary or a combination of both. Working with such a state of mind for some years, the employee may be expected to

  • Resign from the current position,
  • Share his work with his colleagues and subordinates and
  • Appeal to the management to employ some more people for the work.

Out of the three options, the third option, which is hiring more people for the same work is universally accepted and some more people are employed. This employment can in turn result in the new employees thinking that they are overloaded with work and thus, a cycle begins.

Thus, according to Parkinson, we can arrive at four different deductions that

  • The number of employees shall increase irrespective of the workload and work done.
  • Every employee would eventually want a number of subordinates who can share his work and the employee might not want to share the work with equals who would be competing against him in sharing power.
  • Such hiring will increase the expenditure of the organization to maintain constant level of production or output.
  • Another major reason for concern is that this process can, not only increase the cost of production, but it can result in inefficiency as unnecessary work distribution in the organization can increase.

This theory is of particular importance in today’s business organizations as managers can keep a check on their employees’ performance or output and act accordingly to avoid work overload and distribute work efficiently across the organization.

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