The Peter principle states: «In every hierarchy, whether it be government or business, each employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence, every post tends to be filled by an employee incompetent enough to execute his duties». This, in the opinion of the authors, is the principle of bureaucratic organization. It was originally enunciated in the satirical best-selling book The Peter Principle — Why Things Always Go Wrong, published in 1969 and written by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull. Their examples were drawn mostly from the operation of the school system, and they cite as an example the outstanding classroom teacher who has been appointed principal and is hopelessly inept. The promotion essentially demoted her; as a principal she was unable to function well. «All useful work is done by those who have not yet reached their level of incompetence», Peter writes. «The cream rises until it sours».
Peter, a Canadian educator and psychologist, was born in 1919, and devoted all his professional life to the British Columbia education system.