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The Peter Principle is a (slightly?) humoristic principle named after its discoverer, Lawrence J. Peter. It states that, in a hierarchical organization where promotions are granted based on achievements, members of the hierarchy will be promoted until they gain a position they are not qualified to hold – commonly stated, until they reach their level of incompetence.

Another way of saying this is that, since people are quickly promoted out of positions they can hold successfully, but are not promoted from positions where they fail, they will stay longest in the positions they are least fit to hold.