Join getAbstract to access the summary!


Join getAbstract to access the summary!


How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Two Harvard business professors explain all human behavior. Any questions?

auto-generated audio
auto-generated audio

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


Leave it to two Harvard business professors - Paul R. Lawrence and Nitin Nohria - to break every rule of conventional academic etiquette. Their transgression? Applying their knowledge of companies and individuals to present a unified explanation of human behavior, thereby encroaching on the academic fiefdoms of evolutionary biology, psychology and anthropology, just to name a few. They use the four basic human drives that influence behavior to offer deep insights into corporate and individual actions. getabstract strongly recommends this ambitious, far-ranging book to management students, executives searching for understanding and for anyone who delights in tweaking the collective nose of academia.


The Four-Drive Theory

Imagine your organization as a great petri dish, where all the discordant strains of human nature are allowed to play out, revealing eternal scientific truths about each member of your company. Like it or not, that’s essentially the circumstance that you face every day - and the question then becomes, do you really understand what drives your people to do what they do? Or are you just guessing? The fact is that four basic drives are hardwired into the human organism. You couldn’t escape them if you tried. Your success, and the success of your colleagues, depends on how well you balance those four drives, which are:

  1. The drive to acquire and control objects in order to improve your status relative to others.
  2. The drive to bond with other people in long-term commitments of mutual caring.
  3. The drive to learn and understand the world around us.
  4. The drive to defend yourself, your loved ones, your values and your resources from harm.

Why does everyone have these four innate drives, these endowed capabilities or tendencies that define human behavior? Genetics holds the answer...

About the Authors

Paul R. Lawrence  and Nitin Nohria  teach at Harvard Business School, where Lawrence completed his master’s and doctorate. His research has been published in some 24 books and articles. His work focuses on the human aspects of organization design, organization change and human management. Nohria received his Ph.D., from the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T., and his bachelor’s from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay. The seven books he has co-authored or edited include the award-winning The Differentiated Network. He has written more than 75 professional articles.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

Learners who read this summary also read

Related Channels