parkinson’s law one

Parkinson’s Law, I



reduce expand administration
fill apply (2) period (2)
staff available responsibility
navy law (2) supposedly
fleet tendency with regard
ample stringent reverse (2)
entire face (2) accomplish
lazy situation simply put
allot hold true contract (2)
task force (2) under pressure
tight deadline work hard
vast generous productive
extend efficient emergency


Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law is one of the most important laws regarding organizations, work, money and wealth accumulation.

It was developed by English historian Northcote Parkinson in 1957 in his book Parkinson’s Law and Other Studies in Administration.

This “law” is based on the idea that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”


Parkinson originally applied his law to government administration. He stated that there is a tendency for the number of administrators and staff in a given organization to increase, whether or not their responsibilities and work to be done increase.

Such growth supposedly occurs because these officials create assistants. These assistants, in turn, create new “work”.

Parkinson supported his law with statistics. For example, he found that the number of administrative officials in the British navy increased 78 per cent from 1914 to 1928. But during that same period, Great Britain reduced its fleet size by about 68 percent.

Extended Deadline

Today, people use Parkinson’s Law to explain various other situations, especially with regards to work, time and money.

So if you are assigned a task that would normally take two hours to complete, but were given an entire, eight-hour workday to accomplish it, you will tend to extend your performance, and take all day to finish.

Simply put, it means that people become lazier and waste more time when they have more than ample time to complete a job.

Contracted Deadline

However, the reverse also holds true: “Work contracts to fill the time allotted for it.” When you find yourself under pressure to get a project done by a tight or emergency deadline, you are forced to become vastly more productive and efficient than you would be if you had generous amounts of time.

This explains why most people work hard and fast only when they are faced with stringent deadlines.

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1. Parkinson’s Law is just a minor footnote. True or false? What is Parkinson’s Law? What does Parkinson’s Law state?

2. Northcote Parkinson was an economics professor who presented his law in an academic journal. Is this right or wrong?

3. What general and specific examples did he give?

4. Does Parkinson’s Law only apply to (government) administrations? What else does it apply to?

5. What happens when employees have a long deadline to accomplish a task?

6. What happens if workers have a tight or short deadline?

7. Is there a take home message in this text?


A. How would you describe government bureaus and agencies? Are they small, medium-sized or big? Are there few, a medium-amount or many administrators and staff?

B. Has its size been increasing, decreasing or staying the same? Should it increase, decrease or remain the same size?

C. Describe the administration, management or staffing of your company or organization.

D. Has it been increasing, decreasing or staying the same in size? Should it increase, decrease or remain the same size?

E. What can you say about deadlines in your work or company? Are the tight, adequate (just right), too long or it depends?


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