Definition of Peter Principle in US English:

Peter Principle


  • The principle that members of a hierarchy are promoted until they reach the level at which they are no longer competent.

    • ‘The "Peter Principle" states that "in a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence; the cream rises until it sours."’
    • ‘The Peter Principle seeks to explain why so many organizations have so much incompetence, and it explains this by saying that people are promoted until they are in over their head.’


1960s: named after Laurence J. Peter (1919–90), the Canadian educationalist who put forward the theory.


Peter Principle

/ˈpēdər ˈprinsəpəl/