Let’s talk about you: what is your background, what do you teach, and what are your research interests?.
I am Maria Lusiani, Associate Professor of Business Administration at Ca' Foscari, Department of Management, where I coordinate the Master's Degree Programme in Economics and Management of Arts and Cultural Activities (EGART), and where I am a member of the teaching board of the PhD in Management and of the International College. My teaching focuses on cost analysis, management control, management of the arts and non-profit organisations. My research focuses on accounting and management practices in complex public and non-profit organisations, from arts to community and healthcare, with a strong qualitative approach, including case studies, ethnography, historical archive analysis and text analysis, including semi-automated analysis.
Tell us about your academic path.
My academic career is a bit of a loop. I took my first steps in university at Ca' Foscari, more than twenty years ago, in the then new-born Bachelor's Degree Programme in Economics and Management of Arts and Cultural Activities (EGART), where I learned my first notions of economics, business and art history at the same time, and which opened the door to my first experiences in museum education and an internship abroad, in France. I then concluded my studies with a Master's Degree in Bologna in Management of Cultural Organisations, where I participated in a number of field research projects in museum management, which then channelled my career towards academic research, with a PhD in Business Administration in Bologna (2011), a postdoc in Management at HEC Montréal (2012) and, finally, a return to Ca' Foscari (2013) as a fixed-term researcher.
Have you always known that this was going to be your path?
When I was choosing a university career, after high school, I remember ruling out all purely humanistic and purely scientific programmes, even though they appealed to me, because, I said, “I don't want to be a bookworm or a laboratory rat”. No, I would never have thought that academic research could be my job! Since the days of my first studies in Venice at Egart, I had begun to develop an interest in the museum industry and museum education specifically, and I had begun to gain initial work and training experience in this area. The encounter with research was accidental, linked to a lecturer in Bologna and to some first funded opportunities for field and archive research, both before and after my Master's Degree. Instead of working in cultural organisations, as I thought I would, I ended up studying cultural organisations, how they work and how they support themselves, in all their complexity.
What do teaching and researching mean to you?
Although I had not imagined it for myself, in fact I had initially ruled it out, research turned out to be suitable for me. I realised that research means making the fact of being curious about how things work (organisations, in my case) and the fact of reading and writing a job. Reading and writing and looking around have always been passions of mine. Yet this, after a few years between PhDs and post-docs, didn't seem to be enough, due to the feeling that it was starting to become a beautiful but self-referential work of speculation, as it was only aimed at growing (my) knowledge. Since I began my teaching experience, first as an adjunct lecturer and then as a researcher, I have found the social function of academic work, in terms of human relationships with students and public service, to be, for me, essential and complementary to research: putting the knowledge built through research at the service of teaching and enriching research with the knowledge built in the classroom with students.
Why should someone choose Ca’ Foscari?
At Ca' Foscari I have had the chance to get to know the Department of Management in depth over the years and, more recently, to work closely with colleagues from other Departments, sitting together on the teaching board of an inter-departmental Master's Degree Programme and participating in the interdisciplinary activities of the International College of Ca' Foscari. This is giving me a growing insight into the richness of this university: the range of courses is constantly growing and being redesigned, the professionalism and dedication of the academic and administrative staff is high and strongly student-oriented, with a sincere dedication to internationalisation. On the research side, results are also growing, as is Ca' Foscari's visibility in the international academic world. I find that, in the wonderful natural city campus provided by Venice, Ca' Foscari is a university that offers a very high level of service, with the resources and vocation of a public university.