Recent years have seen a surge in the use of ‘platforms’ of various kinds for economic activity.  This has affected the employment relation, buyer-seller relations, investor relations, social relations, and much more. These changes were well underway before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but seem to have been accelerated and been transformed by it. In addition, whereas much of this shift has been stimulated and facilitated by the widespread adoption and growing functionality of digital communication tools, it has also opened scholars’ eyes to the usefulness of seeing much pre-digital economic activity (from medieval fairs to the putting out system to the seven-day week) in terms of platforms. Correlatively, the pandemic has accelerated the already-significant conversation about the organization of work, which sensitizes us to societal and organizational platforms for scheduling and meeting.


In the 2023 Medici Summer School, we will convene researchers grappling with the platform economy from multiple directions. Scholars studying strategy and architecture of digital platforms make progress from contrasting the strategies developed for and by platforms with other types of businesses. Indeed, platforms can sensitize us to the breadth and complexity of ecosystems necessary for value-creation. Experts in labor markets and employment ask how forms of workplace control and consent are shaped by platform-mediated labor processes. Broader research on labor markets studies how a matching platform changes the multi-channel relationships between employer, worker, and customer. What is the nature of worker bargaining power in such contexts? The platform economy even raises basic questions about informal social organization: how do network ties form in platform contexts? How does information percolate through crowdsourcing platforms?


The opportunities for research and positive impact are quite exciting indeed, as are the challenges. What are the benefits and costs of defining “platform” narrowly and broadly? How do we ensure that research streams on platforms in different subfields allow for cross-cutting conversations that are more than the sum of their parts? How do we ensure that this surge in interest in platforms makes an enduring social scientific contribution, and is not just a passing fad?



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, Nathan Wilmers, and Emilio J. Castilla (MIT); Simone Ferriani (Bologna & Bayes); and Rodolphe Durand (HEC Paris).

In addition to the host faculty, the Summer School will bring together guest faculty who are leading strategy, organizations, sociology, and social psychology scholars. As in prior years, these guests each has an exciting research agenda that touches on the chosen theme. And they are also chosen to be diverse on multiple dimensions, including empirical application, specific research question, and research methodology. This helps to spark exciting cross-fertilization of ideas that is one of the hallmarks of the Medici experience. Another aspect of that experience is a consistent focus on the research process. Participants gain less from learning about “fully baked” research than from sharing ideas about the “baking process” itself.

Finally, this year will be a little different format. Given the number and range of scholars in the vicinity of MIT that are doing leading-edge work on platforms, one day will be devoted to panels that bring together such scholars for stimulating conversation with one another and with the Medici community.


The tentative schedule outline is as follows:

Sunday, June 11: Evening Welcome Reception

Monday June 12: Guest faculty leader: Henning Piezunka, INSEAD

Tuesday, June 13: Guest faculty leader: Lindsey Cameron, Penn Wharton

Wednesday, June 14: Thematic panels featuring faculty including Carliss Baldwin, Michael Luca, and James Riley (Harvard Business School); Annabelle Gawer (Surrey); Michael Cusumano; and Georg Rilinger (MIT Sloan). Additional local faculty may participate as well.

Thursday, June 15: Guest faculty leader: Juliet Schor, Boston College

Friday, June 16: Guest faculty leader: Carmelo Cennamo,  Copenhagen Business School


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:

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