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Parkinson's Law Hardcover – December 1, 1996
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Top Customer Reviews
While reading most of this book I had a wry grin on my face, and I laughed loud belly laughs at a couple of points. My only complaints stem from the last two chapters, which indulged in both racism and ageism, respectively. I only skimmed those. Still, an enjoyable and motivational read, and useful knowledge when confronted by a manager who thinks of themself as Parkinsonian but hasn't actually read (or understood) Parkinson.
His basic premises that work expands to fill the time available, that the important decisions fall victim to the easily understood, and that bureaucratic organizations that grow too large no longer need any outside contact have been demonstrated to me over and over during a 30 year career in business.
The decade of downsizing we are witnessing demonstrates just how much fat there is in most organizations. Parkinson had it right over 30 years ago
Chapter one contains the titular law, which is frequently misquoted. The actual law gives a mathematical formula for how fast an office will grow, simply by observing that every bureaucrat will demand two subordinates at certain times. Parkinson backs this up with analysis of various British government bodies. The Colonial Office, for instance, more than doubled in size even as the number of colonies was shrinking. This is a rock-solid rule, as far as I can tell, and particularly relevant to an America where we somehow spend $728 billion despite having fewer actual soldiers than at any time in the past sixty years.
Chapter three famously looks at budget meetings. The conclusion is that up to a certain point, committees will spend more time on items that cost less. Some trivially small item, such as coffee, is easily understood, so every committee member has an opinion about it. On the other hand, nobody really understands expensive items such as reactors, so nobody has much to say about them. This is a phenomenon which I've seen arising in real life time and time again.
Chapter four is perhaps the most fascinating and devastatingly accurate one in the book. The hypothesis is that whenever an organization builds a fancy new headquarters, its time is up.Read more ›
While you're at it (and if you have a really dry, British and warped sense of humor), don't forget to check out "Gamesmanship" and "Lifemanship" by Stephen Potter.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
underneath its comedic value, is a lot of narrative that applies to an understanding of the human condition.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
As described, glad to have it back in my library, absolute classic work..Published 4 months ago by Richard R Deupree
series of tongue in cheek essays, easy read , entertaining and fun with a lot of his observations true to life.Published 8 months ago by william walsh
If you've ever worked in an office and think things are messed up--read this book. It's a quick, fun read and you'll be naming names and identifying people in your organization. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Holly
replaces one I have read many times and is a great explanation for how bureaucracy feeds on itselfPublished 19 months ago by CONRAD