What is it?

A project will expand in size to the time to give to complete it.

Why it is useful?

Knowing this you can apply methods to prevent it. Organisations are only useful if they increase efficiency. People who get comfortable will always lose some of their focus. If a group is given an amount of time to do something by someone in a higher authority they will perceive that it should take that long which explains the rush at the deadline, when the time has to be matched up to the amount of work still left to.

How do I use it?

Smaller groups with more responsibility over their own time, using agile techniques, monitoring the number of bureacrats should help. Its particularly something for large corporations and organisations. Being aware of this phenomena can allow it to be observed and countered.


First articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as part of the first sentence of a humorous essay published inThe Economist in 1955: that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

The rate at which bureaucracies expand over time.

Much of the essay is dedicated to a summary of purportedly scientific observations supporting his law, such as the increase in the number of employees at the Colonial Office while Great Britain ‘s overseas empire declined (indeed, he shows that the Colonial Office had its greatest number of staff at the point when it was folded into the Foreign Office because of a lack of colonies to administer).

Data expands to fill the space available for storage.”Parkinson’s Law” could be generalized further still as:The demand upon a resource tends to expand to match the supply of the resource.The amount of time which one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task.

He explains this growth by two forces:

“An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals”
“Officials make work for each other.”

He notes in particular that the total of those employed inside a bureaucracy rose by 5-7% per year “irrespective of any variation in the amount of work (if any) to be done”.


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