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The Dilbert Principle refers to a 1990s satirical observation by Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams stating that companies tend to systematically promote their least-competent employees to management (generally middle management), in order to limit the amount of damage they're capable of doing. In the Dilbert strip of February 5, 1995 Dogbert says that “leadership is nature's way of removing morons from the productive flow.”

Adams explained the principle in a 1995 Wall Street Journal article. Adams then expanded his study of the Dilbert Principle in a satirical 1996 book of the same name, which is required or recommended reading at some management and business programs. In the book, Adams writes that, in terms of effectiveness, use of the Dilbert Principle is akin to a band of gorillas choosing an alpha-squirrel to lead them. The book has sold more than a million copies and was on the New York Times bestseller list for 43 weeks.

Although academics may reject the principle's veracity, noting that it is at odds with traditional human resources management techniques, it originated as a form of satire that addressed a much-discussed issue in the business world.

The Dilbert Principle is a variation of the Peter Principle. The Peter Principle addresses the practice of hierarchical organizations (such as corporations and government agencies) to use promotions as a way to obtain greater advantage from employees who demonstrate competence in their current position. It goes on to state that, due to this practice, a competent employee will eventually be promoted to, and remain at, a position at which he or she is incompetent. The Dilbert Principle, on the other hand, claims that incompetent employees are intentionally promoted to prevent them from doing harm (such as reducing product quality, offending customers, offending employees, etc.) The Dilbert Principle draws upon the idea that in certain situations, the upper echelons of an organization can have little relevance to the actual production and the majority of real, productive work in a company is done by people lower in the power ladder. It is possible for both Principles to be simultaneously active in a single organization.

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ISBN-10:  0887308589 (pbk.)
ISBN-13:  9780887308581 (pbk.)
Author:  Scott Adams
Genre:  Management, Workplace, Dilbert, Business, Business & Professional, Essays, Business Humor
Publisher:  Harper Paperbacks
Date Published:  April 24, 1997
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review by . July 02, 2010
Scott Adams really has outdone himself with The Dilbert Principle. Many people in the corporate workplace know and love the Dilbert comic strip for its funny insights about life in a cubicle.       This book goes beyond that and examines many different elements from the workplace and puts a humorous spin on them. However, no matter how funny each of the observations are, they all have an element of truth to them. Yes, it seems like most incompetent workers are promoted …
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
Hilarious! Do you really want to know the reality behind a nice suit and or an organized desk? There`s no shortcut better than this to have a good basic comprehension about work,enterprises and professionalism.
review by . August 18, 2008
Dilbert Principle Book Cover
When I "sold out" from working at a small business of a dozen people -- a place where we were told they would not purchase pens because we could get those for free at events around town -- to begin working for a true corporation, a friend loaned me "The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions."    When I was a few weeks into the job and a few chapters into the book, I had to stop reading it in public places …
Adam's Dilbert Principle
The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace A
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