Some have observed that individuals perform worse after being promoted. The Peter principle, which states that people are promoted to their level of incompetence, suggests that something is fundamentally misaligned in the promotion process. This view is unnecessary and inconsistent with the data. Below, it is argued that ability appears lower after promotion purely as a statistical matter.
Being promoted is evidence that a standard has been met. Regression to the mean implies that future ability will be lower, on average. Firms optimally account for the regression bias in making promotion decisions, but the effect is never eliminated.
Rather than evidence of a mistake, the Peter principle is a necessary consequence of any promotion rule. Furthermore, firms that take it into account appropriately adopt an optimal strategy. Usually, firms inflate the promotion criterion to offset the Peter principle effect, and the more important the transitory component is relative to total variation in ability, the larger the amount that the standard is inflated.
The same logic applies to other situations. For example, it explains why movie sequels are worse than the original film on which they are based and why second visits to restaurants are less rewarding than the first. Skip to main content. The Experience Overview of Experience. About Our Degree Programs.
She's incompetent to run the company but too proud to step down, nearly getting everyone killed. Live-Action TV. It's shown that he used to be a great salesman, and still is when called upon, but has none of the right skills for management. This happens on ER on occasion.
The most obvious case is Dr. Kerry Weaver, who angles for any promotion she can get, generally letting the power go to her head immediately. This was also the case for Doug Ross, who was put in charge of a pediatric mini-ER, but let that spiral out of control while helping a woman with a terminally ill child. Mark Greene was an Attending, but continually was reminded that he was lacking in the discipline department, while Carter, while a very caring doctor, screwed up surprisingly often for a guy who seemed to be one of the senior residents.
In fairness, Weaver didn't seem all that interested in hiring him as an Attending she did so due to a shortage, mainly , and he was only made Chief Resident after Chen was fired.
Jack Donaghy of 30 Rock , who was promoted from the microwave oven division of GE , was written this way early on. Liz Lemon, too, is a comedy writer by experience and inclination but her job is as much management as anything else, she's received no management training other than what Jack has given her on the job, and much of the show's comedy is derived from how in-over-her-head she is. As of the th episode this is really starting to haunt Jack, who never expected to be stalled on one corporate rung for five years.
In the episode "Double Edged Sword", Pete references this by name: "The reason people are unhappy in their careers is that they keep getting promoted until they're in over their heads. The Peter Principle says you rise to the level of your incompetence. Archie "Snake" Simpson in Degrassi : competent, well-liked and respected, Reasonable Authority Figure tech teacher who has the school spiral out of control as principal, cracks down hard , and has already begun capitulating less than five episodes later, in one case to a student who covered his car in Post-It notes!
The title character of The Brittas Empire is so far above his competence level at this point that people will write him glowing recommendation letters in order to get rid of him. Explored in Game of Thrones , where one of the main ideas explored as in the books A Song of Ice and Fire is to question whether a good man would be a good ruler. Robert Baratheon was mentioned to be a good warrior and general, which was how he got his throne in the first place. However, as Renly and Barristan point out, good warriors don't make good kings by default, since warring and ruling are two completely different beasts.
Unfortunately it turned out that he was a poor administrator who attended three Small Council meetings in seventeen years and rarely paid attention to his advisors whenever they tried to reign in his spending and he was less than a stellar husband in a position that required a decent marriage to ensure stability when it was time to transfer power. The moment he died everything fell to pieces. It's often said in-universe that Robert was "the right man to win the throne, the wrong man to keep it. However when he moved to the capital of King's Landing, those same codes that helped him in the North prevent from being an effective hand despite the fact that he is actually quite astute about the Crown's problems and political situations.
The Peter Principle
His personal understanding of justice, and inability to separate his sentiments from is professional requirements, does not allow him to properly use his office to the fullest. In The Ranch , Rooster is repeatedly shown to be a quite competent rancher when working on his father's privately-owned cattle ranch, but when he's offered a job running a ranch owned by a large cattle firm, he quickly finds himself in over his head.
He thinks he can behave like he did when his "boss" was also his father, and thus ignores emails, lets paperwork pile up and deliberately ignores a timeline the company puts in place for tagging the cows because it would interfere with his planned ice-fishing trip that weekend. Unlike a lot of other examples here, he ultimately does lose the job. In Star Trek , Starfleet seems to have systems in place to avert this trope wherever possible with exceptions : Commander Riker of Star Trek: The Next Generation is offered a promotion to captain of his own vessel more than once and refuses on the grounds that he has more to learn from Captain Picard before he steps up to his own command.
It's stated at least once that if he refuses again he is unlikely to get another offer, implying that Starfleet views a repeated refusal as a sign that this trope is in place and the officer is unsuited for further promotion. Indeed, on those relatively rare occasions where Riker is seen performing the duties unique to first officer such as organizing duty rosters and dealing with disciplinary issues among the crew, he seems very competent in his current position.
On the other hand , every time he winds up commanding in his own right, he seems perfectly competent at that too. He argues that being First Officer of the flagship of the fleet is far more prestigious than being the Captain of any "lesser" ship, and he has a point: Star Trek: Nemesis shows that even despite his repeated refusals before, he still basically has the pick of any ship in the fleet when he finally does accept a promotion.
Of course, the Doylist explanation is that he will never be permanently promoted during the show's run because Status Quo Is God. As his career advanced and he moved to Deep Space Nine as Sisko's First Officer had him struggle to keep his "shoot first ask questions never" tendencies in check and become a solid, conscientious leader. Data is forced to take Worf to task for being a Sour Supporter in front of the crew, leading to this discussion in the Ready Room: Data : The primary role of the second in command is to carry out the decisions of the Captain in this case, me.
Data : Yes. But once I have made a decision, it is your job to carry it out regardless of how you may personally feel. Any further objections should be given to me in private, not in front of the crew. I do not recall Commander Riker ever publicly showing irritation with his Captain as you did a moment ago. Golden Tee Golf's original prize structure drove this home hard. Players were grouped into Bronze, Silver, and Gold classes, each with correspondingly greater prizes. One official tournament was held every month, after which the top Bronze finishers advanced to Silver and the top Silver finishers advanced to Gold.
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The kicker was that in Silver, it wasn't too hard for reasonably skilled players to consistently finish in the money, and they'd drop to Bronze if they came up empty for three straight tournaments. Gold, however, paid off only the top 75 finishers Worse, Gold had, of course, the best Golden Tee Golf players in the world, many of whom were good enough to cash in every tournament, leaving even fewer spots for the new blood. The net result was that for many, many players, promotion to Gold meant having absolutely no chance to win anything for half a year! Which was the original point of the structure — it was specifically made to prevent Gold-level players from exploiting the system by sandbagging just to win extra money at the Silver level.
In Sumo, a rikishi getting promoted to a rank where he's completely over his head isn't a big deal; he'll simply have a terrible tournament and be demoted. The exception is ozeki.
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Reaching the rank requires an exceptional record over three tournaments, generally at least 33 wins out of 45 and one runner-up at minimum. However, he cannot be demoted unless he has two consecutive losing records. He is merely "kadoban" after one losing record; if he has a positive result the next tournament, even , the slate is clean. This has allowed quite a few ozeki to remain at the rank long after they've dropped WAY below the level they were when they got it: Chiyotaikai — Promoted to ozeki after his breakout January basho, he stumbled horribly out of the gate in March and May, but recovered and had a pretty good track record through And then he suffered two nasty injuries in and that completely ruined his form the pressure of being Kokonoe-beya's next great hope after Chiyonofuji certainly didn't help either.
From then on he was largely doomed to a 6 to 9 win treadmill and a humiliating parade of kadobans. He finally was demoted in January , where he blasted off to a start and promptly retired. Musoyama — A good-but-not-great oshi specialist and one of the then-formidable Musashigawa stable, he had one impressive stretch of dominance in early which propelled him to ozeki Inconsistency and seemingly endless injuries would plague the remainder of his career; he only ever exceeded 10 wins once more March and was kadoban 6 times.
Miyabiyama — Another Musashigawa stalwart, he shot up the ranks like a rocket in his early career, needing a mere 12 tournaments He was the surest lock for yokozuna since Takanohana.
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So how did his ozeki stint go? He goes over his next 7 tournaments barely adequate for a komusubi , going kadoban 3 times in the process, then in September suffers a devastating injury which knocks him out of the next TWO tournaments and catapults him back into the rank and file.
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The Sumo Association was so disgusted by his collapse that they refused to promote him back to ozeki in July , even though he'd gone with a runner-up, which should've been more than enough. They had also recently promoted Hakuho to ozeki and there were four other ozeki at the time as well—Chiyotaikai, Kaio, Tochiazuma, and Kotooshu. Kaio — One of many outstanding ozeki who was just not good enough to make the final jump to yokozuna. Despite never contending for a championship after and having to miss a lot of tournaments to injury, he hung on for tournament after tournament, one losing record never becoming two.
He had an amazing knack, however he did it, for getting that all-important 8th win; he was for all six tournaments in He finally succumbed to the inevitable, at the astounding age of 39, in July He's tied with Chiyotaikai for the most tournaments at ozeki 65 and is the sole holder of most tournaments in makuuchi and most kadobans He was never demoted. Tochiazuma — Formidable multi-talent who made ozeki during his peak from September to January Unfortunately, that's when his myriad health problems decided to come crashing down on him en masse, and his ozeki tenure was a horrendous roller coaster where he was as likely to finish with 2 wins as Did manage to pull in one championship and two runners-up before his body completely gave out in March Unfortunately, despite his ring sense and mastery of technique, he was prone to mental breakdowns and could self-destruct at any moment.
He bounced up and down the ranks for a long time before finally correcting his problems and going in in March , which propelled him to Sekiwake. He held onto that rank for two years then peaked, going , , and from March to July , picking up two jun-yushos in the progress. This was good enough to promote him to ozeki, the first in an eternity to make it with fewer than 33 wins.