The complexity of contemporary organizational life in which boundaries are fluid, people and technologies are entangled, and the spatial reach of organizations stretches ever further calls for sustained theoretical and empirical efforts to understand the role of space and place in shaping organizational outcomes. After all, everything organizational and social theorists focus on is emplaced; it happens somewhere, it is constituted in part through location, it is spatially and temporally bounded, and it involves a complex interplay of material objects, people, meanings, and values. So, while it may seem that location and distance are becoming less significant in our hyper-connected world, the reality is quite the opposite. The concept of place remains a vital cog in the machinery of organizational theory, while the spatiality of social life has evolved from a peripheral issue to a core concern for management and organizational scholars. This move has ushered in the treatment of space as both enabling and constraining actions rather than functioning as a neutral backdrop.

This shift is further highlighted by societal and technological changes, which have heightened our awareness of how individuals engage with their environments, the relationship between space and place, and how work shapes and is shaped by spatial arrangements. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically blurred the lines between home and work, propelling organizations into rapid, often groundbreaking transformations. Technological advancements in digital realms and artificial intelligence are continually redefining our workspaces, sparking accelerated change across a myriad of organizations. Moreover, the looming presence of climate change intertwines organizational evolution with spatial dynamics, reshaping the cities and communities we inhabit. In essence, while the significance of physical distance may be diminishing, the interest in understanding spatial and social locations within organizational contexts is soaring to unprecedented heights.

For social scientists, the intricate dance between space, place, and organizational behavior presents a fertile ground for exploring new ideas, relationships, and logic of organizing. This dynamic field also opens the door to the use of creative visual methodologies, crucial for dissecting the complexities of place in its two and three dimensions.  The 2024 Medici Summer School stands at the forefront of this scholarly endeavor. It aspires to convene leading researchers committed to advancing our understanding of the multifaceted ways in which space and place shape what organizations are, how they function, and how they interact with their environment. Our ambition is to ignite discussions around state-of-the-art organizational research, casting light on new theoretical insights, uncovering hidden processes, and exploring methodological avenues that can elevate our comprehension of key organizational questions.

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

  • Envisioning a New Theory: How can we conceptualize a theory of organizing that truly embraces the nuances of space and place?
  • Evolving Significance of Location: In today’s dynamic world, does location hold the same sway over organizational behavior and performance as it once did?
  • From Space to Place (and Back): What transformative process turns mere physical spaces into places imbued with meaning? When do places regress to spaces?
  • Innovation’s Spatial Footprint: How does innovation leave its mark on the spaces and places within organizational realms?
  • Physical Arrangements and Social Dynamics: What is the influence of physical layouts in either sustaining or challenging the existing social order?
  • The Changing Essence of Space and Place: How do the values and meanings tied to space and place evolve over time?
  • Space, Place, and Organizational Evolution: What is the significance of space and place in the context of organizational and institutional transformation?
  • Designing Experiences: How does the design of space shape the lived experiences of individuals and organizations?
  • Institutional Processes Across Dimensions: In what ways do institutional processes unfold over time, through spaces, and across places?
  • Spatial Concepts in Organizational Theory: How do spatial and placial concepts refine our understanding of organizational change and continuity?
  • The Generative Power of Organizational Spaces: When and why do organizational spaces become hubs of creativity and innovation?
  • Interdisciplinary Spatial Insights: What insights from fields like humanistic geography, architecture, urban planning, or cartography could enrich our theorizing about space and place in organizing?
  • Methodological Innovations for Space Analysis: What new methodologies are required to capture the essence of space and its role in organizing?
  • Custodianship of Space and Place: What are the necessary custodial strategies to manage access and interaction with spaces and places?
  • Changing Orientation via Space and Time: How do the institutional and organizational arrangements that orient day-to-day (work) life change? How might they change for the better?


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 have 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, one day will be devoted to visiting companies and organizations that are at the forefront of leveraging and developing managerial practices informed by spatial and placial considerations.

The tentative schedule outline is as follows:

  • Sunday, June 23: Evening Welcome Reception
  • Monday, June 24: Guest faculty leader: Mercedes Delgado, CBS
  • Tuesday, June 25: Guest faculty leader: Abhishek Nagaraj, Berkeley Haas
  • Wednesday, June 26: Guest faculty leader: Juan Alcacer, Harvard
  • Thursday, June 27: Host faculty leader: Ezra Zuckerman Sivan, MIT Sloan
  • Friday, June 28: Guest faculty leader: Catherine Magelssen, LBS

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 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 challenges experienced by the faculty in their own research
  • Direct feedback on how to tackle complex questions of both theory and empirics