Program & Special events


Culture and science are often thought of as radically different domains. But among the things they share is a tension with organizations and markets. Rare is the scientist or the cultural producer who declares that they are motivated by profit; and rare is the account of science or culture that begins with the role of the organizations and institutions that facilitate its production and distribution. And yet especially in today’s world, where the commercialization of scientific discovery is widely thought to be of critical importance; and where many more are pursuing careers in art worlds than ever before, such organizations and institutions have a crucial role to play.

For social scientists, the challenges and opportunities associated with the commercialization of culture and science offer extraordinary opportunities to explore new ideas, relationships and logics of organizing while also having a positive impact. They also present opportunities to engage with unorthodox methodologies that are often needed to tackle complex causal interdependences that cut across social, technical, political as well as disciplinary boundaries.

The purpose of “The 2019 Medici Summer School” is to bring together leading researchers who are focused on advancing our knowledge on the organizations and institutions that serve as vehicles and as settings for the commercialization of science or of culture. In particular, our goal is to discuss cutting-edge organizational research that sheds new light on theoretical mechanisms, processes as well as methodological approaches that can enhance our understanding of major questions. This theme choice reflects a sense of excitement about what can and has been learned from comparing and contrasting the domains of science and culture and how each intersects with the market.

Some of the topics and questions that will be discussed include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • What are the key institutions responsible for commercialization success?
  • How do players in the domain respond to massive uncertainty regarding the valuation of ideas and products?
  • What is the role played by norms against the pursuit of profit?
  • What strategies are available for various players in each “value chain” and what are associated challenges?
  • How do new ideas and approaches arise in the domain given the particular challenges associated with the domain?
  • To the extent that culture and science are similar as vehicles and settings for commercialization, what does this teach us about their similarities and differences?
  • How has each domain changed as a result of increased commercialization?
  • What role do social networks play in facilitating or impeding commercialization?
  • What role do universities and non-profit institutions play?

Overall, the goal of the 2019 edition of the Medici Summer School is to shed light on the role of organizations and institutions as vehicles and settings for the commercialization of culture and science. The 2019 Medici Summer School is to equip students with theoretical and methodological tools that will enable them to untangle a complex theoretical landscape, define the key questions, identify open puzzles, and delineate the central ideas for a future agenda devoted to understanding the commercialization of culture and science. To this end, the 2019 Medici Summer School brings together interdisciplinary scholarship at multiple levels of analysis to shed light on organizational tensions and market challenges associated with the commercialization of culture and science. By learning from different theoretical and empirical approaches, we believe attendees will substantially enrich their particular research agendas.

Program and Faculty

The host faculty members include representatives from the three co-sponsoring institutions and those who have been organizing the Summer School over the years. Host faculty at this year’s summer school include Ezra Zuckerman Sivan and Emilio J. Castilla (MIT); Simone Ferriani and Gianni Lorenzoni (Bologna); Rodolphe Durand (HEC Paris); and Gino Cattani (NYU).

In addition to the host faculty, the Summer School will bring together guest faculty who consist of leading strategy, organizations, sociology, and social psychology scholars. The five days of the Summer School will be tentatively organized as follows:

Day 1, June 17: Lead faculty:          Deepak Hedge, NYU Stern School
Day 2, June 18: Lead faculty:          Gary Alan Fine, Northwestern University
Day 3, June 19: Lead faculty:          Denisa Mindruta, HEC Paris
Day 4, June 20: Lead faculty:          David Hsu, U Pennsylvania Wharton School
Day 5, June 21: Lead faculty:          Damon Phillips, Columbia University

Each faculty member will be in residence at the School for several days, allowing ample time for one-to-one sessions, knowledge sharing, and networking opportunities.

A typical day will feature a guest faculty member presenting on their research, an integrative session led by a host faculty member that explores links among the guest faculty research, and a workshop in which the host and guest faculty work with students to flesh out their own ideas, both theoretically and empirically.

Overall, students will advance in their own research via:

  • Exposure to the cutting edge of research in this area
  • Open discussion of key research challenges experienced by the faculty in their own research
  • Direct feedback on how to tackle complex questions of both theory and empirics