Ig-Nobel-winning Peter Principle paper remains Physica A’s most popular

“That paper, published in Elsevier’s Physica A, remains the most popular of any paper in the journal on social media, according to the data analytics company Altmetric…. In September 2010, the paper also won the Ig Nobel Prize for Management, and after that it became increasingly popular.”

So says the journal’s publisher, also saying:

in 2010, a group of Italian scientists published a paper offering a way to overcome the Peter principle. The authors studied the promotion dynamics inside a hierarchical group, like you’d find in any office, and corroborated using numerical simulations what Laurence Peter had found in the 1960s. But, the team also found a counterintuitive solution to this problem affecting many real organizations; if you promote people at random, you are more likely to find a better match for the role….

The paper, “The Peter principle revisited: A computational study” by Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Italy, has received the highest attention from social media out of any in the journal.

The paper also eventually inspired an opera—”The Incompetence Opera“—which premiered in 2017, at that year’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. (That opera also celebrated another Ig Nobel Prize-winning paper, Dunning and Kruger‘s “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.”)

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