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Parkinson, Peter and probability: Implications for productivity


  • Nadler, Gerald


Improving productivity and effectiveness in society and organizations is a need which is not being met satisfactorily in most countries. Goals of society and organizations are defined in circular and spiral terms, one leading to the other, as encouraging the development of individual capabilities, achieving greater effectiveness, attaining a better quality of life, and enhancing human dignity. Parkinson's Law, Peter's Principle and Robinson's Law ("in a bureaucracy, work alters upon advancement") illustrate in satirical form many truths about why organizations and society are not increasing their levels of goal attainment. Clues for overcoming this adversity are the treatment of such laws as probability concepts to demonstrate that future performance of a specific organization cannot be predicted, and the recognition that unstated assumptions--we know how to apply accumulated knowledge and the research approach should be followed--need to be converted to much different explicit ones. Evidence demonstrating why this is so and what ought to be done is reviewed. A planning and design approach based on an orientation of purposes-target-results is presented, and some different change principles that result from the approach are described.

Suggested Citation

  • Nadler, Gerald, 1976. "Parkinson, Peter and probability: Implications for productivity," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 383-396.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jomega:v:4:y:1976:i:4:p:383-396

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