In keeping with the ongoing purge of bureaucracy from my life I stumbled across a piece in The Economist from 19th November 1955 (don’t ask how these things happen). It’s a piece by a British naval historian called Northcote Parkinson. Its called Parkinsions Law. He formulated a mathematical equation proving that bureaucracies always grow by 6% annually irrespective of the amount of work needed to be done. He stated that “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”
So what does this mean? Well what he meant was that bureaucracies always grow and because managers wish to appear busy, they increase their workload by creating paper trails and rules, filling out evaluations and forms and of course filing. Then they hire more subordinates, who in turn require more managerial time for supervision. Moreover, many bureaucratic budgets rely on the “use it or lose it” principle, meaning the current year’s expenditure determines the following year’s budget. This provides a strong incentive to spend (even waste) as much money as possible to guarantee an ever-increasing budget. Parkinson’s views remain consistent with those of conflict theorists, who hold that bureaucratic growth serves only the managers, who in turn use their increasing power to control the workers. Below is the formula:
In any public administrative department not actually at war the staff increase may be expected to follow this formula:
Where k is the number of staff seeking promotion through the appointment of subordinates
p represents the difference between the ages of appointment and retirement
m is the number of man-hours devoted to answering minutes within the department
n is the number of effective units being administered.
Then x will be the number of new staff required each year.
Mathematicians will, of course, realise that to find the percentage increase they must multiply x by 100 and divide by the total of the previous year, thus:
where y represents the total original staff. And this figure will invariably prove to be between 5.17 per cent and 6.56 per cent, irrespective of any variation in the amount of work (if any) to be done.
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