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The Dilbert Principle works as counterpoint to The Peter Principle. Basically it states that generally speaking incompetent workers will be promoted above competent workers to managerial positions where they thus don't have to do any real work and the damage they do can be limited.

The principle is named for the comic-strip Dilbert and was named by Dilbert creator Scott Adams who identified this trend as common in businesses.

Compare Kicked Upstairs.

Examples of this Trope include.


  • Scott Adams, the author of the comic Dilbert wrote an entire book dedicated to how promotion has changed from the Peter Principle to his coinage The Dilbert Principle, in other words, instead of people getting promoted to their lowest level of competence, any and all incompetent employees are placed in the one place where they can do the least damage: Management.
  • George Costanza in Seinfeld seems to employ this trope. During his tenure at the Yankees he manages to do almost no work at all, even stating to Jerry about the work that he does do 'They had a concession stand like you wouldn't believe'. Despite this George is promoted twice before being 'traded' to Tyler Chicken for a fermented chicken drink and other chicken products.
  • Happens in Office Space, where the two consultants make plans to fire the protagonist's two highly skilled friends, but considering the protagonist management material based on his hypnosis-induced attitude of not giving a shit and just flat out telling them his bosses suck and he barely does any work.
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