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It is a widely accepted assumption that human beings do have free will, in the sense that we are literally able to choose from different courses of action unimpeded. However, findings of scientific research recently indicated that this universal belief might not be objectively true. Such research into the non-existence of free will should be deemed crucial to the field of management. That is because, when some of the traditional management theories and theoretical concepts were established, the existence of free will was taken for granted. Once it is pointed out that free will does not exist, their relevance and applicability could not be justified any longer, and management research and practice would both be significantly affected.  Recent experimental research show that free will is nothing but an illusion, and a number of scientists and philosophers are convinced of the non-existence of free will to any extent. Actually, long before people are aware of making a choice, our brains appear to have already decided (Smith, 2011). This questions the fundamental assumption of free will, as our decisions are unlikely to be under conscious control in this case. In other words, although people seem to have free will, our choices have been predetermined and nobody can ever change that pattern of neural activity (Nichols, 2008).  Management research can be considered a systematic applied research which helps to cope with issues within organizations and contributes to the development of management knowledge. An important factor making it distinctive is that its findings must be useful for resolving practical management problems. Now that free will is proved not to be existent, the base of some traditional management theories would not hold anymore, and thus many theoretical concepts would become irrelevant or inapplicable and have to be reformulated. Management research would start faster evolving as a consequence, in order to adapt to the breakthroughs in neuroscience and philosophy discussed above and further generate new knowledge.  Upon management practice in the real world, the impact is comparably noteworthy. Effective management practice often leads to an improvement in productivity or capacity. Here, whether free will exists would have a great influence on how people’s behavior patterns are interpreted and analyzed. When designing economic incentives or providing feedback and support (Lipman, 2013), the fact that free will does not necessarily exist ought to be taken into account. Management itself, as an applied science, cannot be based on observation and logic alone, and therefore managers should keep improving the way they administer the business continuously through daily work, rather than simply applying existing theories whose reliability might be doubted one day.  Furthermore, the aforementioned research is believed to be so notable that the subjects taught in business schools should be altered accordingly. Camp (2014) claims that there are certain true “rules” that students need to learn. For instance, one is “better off knowing nothing and learning from scratch”, but according to the ideal of positive science, some general theories can never be verified nor falsified. That is to say, compared to padding students with theories continually, cultivating their critical thinking is of vital importance than ever before. The existence of free will, as such a universal belief, can be negated to a certain degree, so can any other theoretical concept.  In conclusion, widely accepted as the assumption of free will is, research which raises objection to it should be regarded as crucial to management. It really matters for management research and its practice, and the topics discussed in modern business schools would better be reconsidered accordingly.

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