Michael Madison

MM headshot

I’m a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, studying and teaching about governance.

Governance means systems of rules and norms. Governance also means how (and why, and when) the communicative and organizational practices of a diverse world are embodied in durable forms. Governance both builds and reflects communities. Blends of governance and groups are institutions.

What’s an institution? How do institutions get started, how do they work, and how do they change and end? How do institutions function when they intersect and overlap? When and how and why are institutions beneficial? Or costly, or harmful? How do institutions glue us together, shaping social, cultural, economic, and political life? When and how do institutions fail us?

Researching those questions — institutional governance — means that I look at a lot of different things. Recent work includes projects on the organization of global football (soccer, to many); data, algorithms, AI, and security and privacy; and the history of research science. I’ve written about universities; post-industrial urbanism; fair use in copyright law, the arts, and computer networks; modern leadership and management practices; and smart cities. And blockchain.

Beyond that research, I’m one of four co-leaders of the Workshop on Governing Knowledge Commons. I co-founded and co-host a podcast about the future of all things law-ish and legal, called The Future Law Podcast. I launched and run a virtual think tank about law-related institutions called “Future Law Works.”

I write magazine columns from time to time for Postindustrial about urbanism, post-industrial America, and Pittsburgh. I am a founding Board member of a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit called PART, which stands for “Partnership to Advance Responsible Technology.” I follow Chelsea FC, FC Bayern Munich, AFC Ajax, and Grasshopper Club Zurich. And my family were original season ticket holders of the NASL San Jose Earthquakes.