The DiTella Foundation was founded in Buenos Aires in 1958 by the economist Guido DiTella and his brother Torcuato DiTella, a sociologist, with the goal of further developing and reinforcing cultural and scientific creativity in Argentina. That same year the brothers established the DiTella Institute, a center promoting theatrical, musical, and other artistic endeavors, in honor of their father, also named Torcuato DiTella, who owned one of the largest machine manufacturing companies in Latin America, the Sección Industrial de Amasadoras Mecánicas (or SIAM). In 1991 Torcuato DiTella University, also associated with the foundation and the institute, opened in Buenos Aires. The foundation, institute, and the university cooperate in academic matters, including faculty research and conferences. The DiTella brothers personally endowed the foundation, although they conceived it as a corporate institution rather than a private body. At the time the practice of endowing a foundation was uncommon in Argentina. Following the downfall of Juan Domingo Perón in 1955, the DiTellas sought to invigorate an intellectual environment that, to a significant degree, had been suppressed by the Peronist government. The liberalizing policies of the Arturo Frondizi government (1958–1962) proved a fecund setting for the foundation's work, as the state also began dedicating funds to various forms of research and creativity in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.
After the military coup of 1966, the intellectual openness and creative freedoms once enjoyed by the foundation and its benefactors were severely curtailed by the regime of General Juan Carlos Onganía. Given that the foundation drew on the profits of the DiTella-owned SIAM manufacturing company, the foundation and its related institutions also suffered as a result of the country's poor economic conditions in the late 1960s. During the 1970s the Argentine government seized control of the family's declining business. The foundation and institute managed to survive both financial hardship in the 1960s and the Argentine military dictators, or "Dirty Warriors," who ruled from 1976 to 1983. SIAM ultimately collapsed during the late-1980s. The foundation, however, continues its work in the early twenty-first century.
King, John. El Di Tella y el desarrollo cultural argentino en la década del sesenta, trans. Carlos Gardini. Buenos Aires: Ediciones de Arte Gaglianone, 1985.
King, John. "El Di Tella and Argentine Cultural Development in the 1960s." Bulletin of Latin American Research 1, no. 1 (1981): 105-112.
Plotkin, Mariano, and Federico Neiburg. "Elites intelectuales y ciencias sociales en la Argentina de los años 60: El Instituto Torcuato Di Tella y la Nueva Economía." Estudios Interdisciplinarios de America Latina y el Caribe 12, no. 1 (2003): 119-149.