Stirling University has awarded Iain Macdonald, the former International Co-operative Alliance Director-General, an honorary doctorate for his contribution to the international co-operative movement.
Dr Macdonald has previously worked as Scottish Education Officer for the Co-operative Union (now Co-operatives UK); a membership officer at the Co-operative Wholesale Society; and a variety of positions at the Co-operative Group, eventually becoming the Head of Co-operative Strategy.
In his speech at the awards ceremony, Dr Macdonald spoke of co-operatives as a more egalitarian business model, one concerned with social justice.
“This university is one of the few which understands that co-operation is a difference, but equally successful business model – indeed some, like me, would say it is a better business model than its investor owned counterpart,” he said.
After gaining an MA in History and Race relations from the University of Edinburgh, he started working in the Ministry of Public Building and World and the Inner London Education Authority.
Reflecting on his earlier years in the co-operative movement, he said: “I was quite political back in 1979 and I felt the co-operative movement offered balance which allowed me to work for a business, but one that was democratically controlled.”
In light of his co-operative experience, he was appointed Director-General of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) in 2002. As ICA’s Director-General, Dr Macdonald worked on increasing the profile of co-operatives through the Global 300 report, which has now developed as the World Co-operative Monitor.
Speaking of the challenges faced by the co-operative movement, Dr Macdonald said a key problem is raising awareness of co-operatives. “In Britain a lot of people think the co-op is just a local food store, they don’t see it as a massive multinational business success.”
He added that co-operatives should also be able to make the most of co-operation. “We have a tendency not to co-operate enough with other parts of the world,” he said, adding that co-ops in Britain could learn from co-ops in Asia, Africa or America.
Dr Macdonald, who represented the ICA as an observer to the UN Economic and Social Council, said the International Year of Co-operatives was a big step forward for the movement. Speaking of the importance of UN’s endorsement, he said: “We’ve got to consolidate on achievements and advantages with IYC gave us, we need to work hard on raising our profile and insisting of being considered at the highest level of government.”
In this article
- British co-operative movement
- Business models
- Co-operatives UK
- Consumer cooperative
- Cooperative federation
- Employment Change
- Human Interest
- Iain Macdonald
- International Co-operative Alliance
- model , one concerned with social justice
- Person Career
- Public Building
- Social Issues
- Stirling University
- The Co-operative brand
- The Co-operative Group
- the Doctor of University Award
- University Award
- University of Edinburgh