A Special Theory of Administrative Relativity

A Special Theory of Administrative Relativity

R. Liang+ & J.M. Woithe*


It has become apparent to many people[1] that there exists an underlying constancy in the operation of administration. This theory explores this principle and thus proposes a number of postulates on the subject.

The postulates

The Special Theory of Administrative Relativity is applicable in all situations requiring organising by n persons where n>=3. The theory becomes more accurate as n approaches infinity. Parameters which may modify the application of the theory are:
  1. whether the persons involved actually realise they are organising something. Such a realisation has a negative perturbation effect on the speed of related documentation as referenced in postulate 6 since it results in an unbounded increase in the mass of paperwork.
  2. whether the persons involved have a higher degree in management (this has a negative effect similar in essence to that described in (a)).
  3. the involvement of higher bodies such as Government departments or large multinational corporate organisations. (Such involvement introduces a further negative correction to the speed. This correction can easily rise several orders of magnitude above the contributions from (a) and (b)).
Observation of numerous administrative administrations[2][3] throughout the world have lead to the formation of the following postulates concerning their operation. We start with two basic definitions which seem to be fundamental and consistent with all observed administrations, and continue with a series of operational constraints which bound the functioning of administration.
  1. define the Redundant Staff Positions ratio (RSP) as the ratio of duplicated to required staff positions within an administration.
  2. define "management" as "all persons and/or objects with any desire to organise, reorganise or just rearrange (for no reason) items in the workplace including other persons and/or objects". If present, management and administration are mutually exclusive with respect to both goals and personnel; if not, there exists a sub-branch of administration which shares the same properties.
  3. the percentage completion of the organization of an event by administration is always less than 50%, relative to itself.
  4. Upon discovering activities in the workplace which might be construed (rightly or wrongly) by administration to make work more enjoyable and/or bearable, said administration will remove said activities citing reasons of inefficiency and/or frivolousness.
  5. if administration approaches 50% completion of any task, all processes leading to completion spontaneously regress with a probability approaching unity.
  6. if the regression does not occur, the required final outcome spontaneously decays into something completely different with a probability approaching unity.
  7. if the outcome decay does not occur, the administration will be replaced or reorganized by management (if present) or itself, citing reasons of incompetence. However, in all cases the RSP ratio is constrained to be strictly greater than 2.
  8. the speed of progression of a given document through administration must be less than the speed of the production of the associated meeting agenda/minutes which it originated from. It can be shown that this speed can never be reached or exceeded since a document necessarily increases its mass as it approaches this speed due to further documents being added to it to allow the increase in speed in the first place. The extra mass acts to limit the velocity: the more paperwork there is, the more effort is required to move it, and the more effort required results in a quasi-proportional reduction in the potential velocity of passage through administration in line with well-known and understood administrative pseudo-processes.


[1] Newspaper articles, tv segments, magazine commentaries, leaflets, information sheets, community updates and informal communications - numerous publications by members of the general public not connected with government(s), bureaucracies or administration.

[2] Government transcripts, parliamentary Hansard, political speeches, meeting minutes, off-the-cuff comments, administrative procedural outlines - numerous publications by members of governments and/or bureaucracies and/or administrations around the world.

[3] Unpublished accounts of encounters with administration experienced by the authors and everyone else not connected with administration.

+ The medical school of the University of Auckland
* The dept of physics and mathematical physics of the University of Adelaide

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