The Nature of Humans: Man as a Higher Animal

Nnenna Nick-Obiegbu Written by Nnenna Nick-Obiegbu · 2 min read >

One of the pioneers of thought management Chester I. Barnard, in his writings, tells us that we cannot go far in the study of behaviors of people in an organization without first understanding the definition of an individual and to what extent is the power of “free will”.

This looks easy and straightforward, but, is a difficult one to answer, and no matter how I tried to avoid answering this question, I could not escape it.

Whatever we choose to say about human behavior, we are indirectly answering the question of free will although not directly expressed.

As a future Manager, It is of utmost importance to have a sound understanding of how human nature works. This is because most of the relevant decisions we will make will ultimately depend on our perspectives on human nature.

That we are human beings does not guarantee that we fully understand ourselves and our actions, some think they do, because they are in-fact human beings, they just feel they may not be able to properly articulate the nature of people in clear terms, But, that is not the case, because if we go in-depth by talking about specific issues with regards to this topic, we would then realize that our knowledge is deficient.

For us managers to have a good understanding of the nature of human beings, we need to commit ourselves to improving our analytic skills, which will, in turn, improve our interpersonal relationships.

Let’s talk about freedom for instance. There are 3 questions to ask;

  1. Are we free? What does freedom mean?
  2. Can we presume that humans will behave rationally in critical situations?
  3. Is it possible to influence others to behave/ act in a certain way?

Not having a firm view of these types of questions is not a good foundation for those that intend to manage people.

Man as a Higher Animal:

A way to understand humans is to know their difference from other living things (Animals and Plants). According to Neoclassical economists, humans are rational beings.

However, man is a rational being, sometimes, he may be led to act irrationally.

Although emotional factors are a huge contributor to successful living. According to studies, IQ only contributes 20%.

Being aware and responding appropriately while being in control of emotions, are as important or if not more important than IQ.

The Trafigura Case in Ivory Coast studied how insensitive decisions lead to costly results. Managers and Economists should not just focus on the end irrespective of the means. 

The main lesson is that it will be wise to make morally and logically sound decisions by understanding the nature of human behavior and applying it to our decisions.


Humans are sentient and intelligent creatures by nature. While we share some traits with animals like Movement, Nutrition, Digestion, Reproduction, Respiration, and Growth (If there are are other traits you feel you share with animals, please enlighten me in the comment box below, I will not judge), we stand out because of our intelligence(Cognitive knowledge) and freedom of choice.

Man’s intelligence allows him to create concepts of realities that are imperceptible to the senses. An example of this is God or health. 

Economists introduced the Agency Theory as a result of the discussion in the previous session (on the neoclassical economist perspective of man). According to this notion, conflicts of interest might develop when a principal fails to constantly supervise his Agent. When used in reference to an organization, the Principal could be viewed in the form of managers, an Agent, employees, and other staff members who, in the lack of oversight, might maximize their power and wealth at the expense of the institution.

There is some truth to that, but it ignores how unique each person is and how impossible it is to foresee every behavior. 

In conclusion, although we are set apart by our Intellect, we should strive to develop ourselves by acquiring knowledge and by asking intelligent questions.

Please, If you would like the blogger to learn a few things,


#MBA21 #LearningTogether

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