Up or out

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In a hierarchical organization, "up or out" is the requirement that each member of the organization must achieve a certain rank within a certain period of time. If they fail to do so, they must leave the organization.


"Up or out" is one component of the Cravath System for managing law firm staff. In this system, associate lawyers who fail to achieve partner status within ten years of hiring are required to leave.


In the US military, the 1980 Defense Officer Personnel Management Act mandates that officers passed over twice for promotion are required to be discharged from the military.[1] Manning control within the British Army plays a similar role.


Tenure track professors in the United States are usually subject to an up-or-out system. Newly hired professors are given a rank of assistant professor and must impress their department with their publications and other work to be promoted to associate professor. Those not so promoted within 4-8 years are asked to leave. This first promotion represents tenure, and further promotions are neither guaranteed nor necessary.


According to Leslie Perlow[2] this system was used at Boston Consulting Group for the advancement through the ranks of Consultant, Project Leader, Principal, Partner, and Senior Partner.


  1. ^ Bernard Rostker, et al. (1992). The Defense Officer Personnel Management Act of 1980 - A Retrospective Assessment (PDF). ISBN 0-8330-1287-8. 
  2. ^ Leslie Perlow (2012). Sleeping with Your Smartphone (Hardcover). ISBN 978-1-4221-4404-6. 

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