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A tribute to academic and co-op advocate Johnston Birchall

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Co-operatives UK Vice-Chair Nick Matthews pays tribute to a "champion of the co-operative and mutual sector" following the death of Professor Johnston Birchall. 

"There is no doubt that the UK movement has lost one of the great co-op advocates with the passing of Professor Johnston Birchall," said Co-operatives UK Vice-Chair Nick Matthews.

"Everyone who knew him and his work across the global co-operative movement will mourn his loss. Fortunately, he leaves a tremendous body of incredibly valuable work as anyone looking through his dozens of publications will testify."

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His contribution to the thinking about co-operatives was immense. He was a prodigious champion of the co-operative and mutual sector with a level of knowledge and understanding that will be very hard to replace.
– Nick Matthews, Co-operatives UK Vice-Chair

Johnston, a professor emeritus at the social sciences department at Stirling University, passed away following a long illness. A passionate advocate for co-ops, he was a renowned author and scholar. 

"Johnston said 'the co-operative business model is a serious alternative to corporate capitalism' and his body of work demonstrates just that," added Nick Matthews. "He covered the entire global history and spectrum of co-operative enterprises and came up with a wonderful genealogy of what he referred to as 'member-owned businesses'. A template that is still being used as a way of classifying co-operative societies.

"Johnston’s books should line every co-operators study, from his work on The International Movement, to The Co-op: the People’s Business to his more recent work, People-Centred Businesses, Co-operatives, Mutuals and the Idea of Membership.

"Johnston was a lovely man, genial and thoughtful, excellent company after hours at co-op events, we shared a love of jazz and he was a great source of co-operative wisdom.

The Governance of Large Co-operative Businesses
The second edition of Johnston's research study into how large co-op businesses are governed

"He produced a great piece of work for Co-operatives UK on 'The Governance of Large Co-operative Businesses’ which should be compulsory reading for all Directors of large co-ops. He was always leading as well as recording ways of thinking about co-operatives as his work on multi-stakeholder co-ops shows.

"We have lost a great friend of the co-operative movement I very much hope we will find a suitable way to memorialise his passing. Deepest condolences to his family and friends from all of us at Co-operatives UK."

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