Robin Murray was an industrial economist. From 2013 he was a Senior Visiting Fellow at the LSE, and had been a Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies in the University of Sussex for twenty years, prior to which he taught economics at the London Business School. Having specialised in industrial strategy, international corporate taxation and international commodity supply chains, his most recent work was focused on industrial restructuring in response to environmental pressures (notably waste and energy), on social innovation, and on the social and civil economies – particularly in co-operatives, with whom he had considerable personal involvement.
During the 1980s and 90s, Robin acted as a consultant on industrial and development issues to a wide range of governments, serving as Director of Industry in the Greater London Council and later as a Director of Development in the Government of Ontario. This work led him to the conclusion that there was a major role that could be played in achieving social goals by mission driven third sector companies. In response, he co-founded Twin Trading, the fair trade company, in 1985, which now sells four branded products in the UK: Cafedirect, Divine Chocolate, Agrofair and Liberation Nuts. The company works with existing farmers co-operatives and supports the development of new ones, now supporting over 300,000 farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Robin also established a range of environmental ventures, focused on the economy of distributed systems and their potential for environmental and social sustainability. He co-founded the environmental partnership Ecologika, whose members work in the fields of waste, energy, transport, food and health, and which has played a major role in the re-direction of UK waste policy. Working in the Greater London Council’s Mayor’s office, Robin helped to establish the London Climate Change Agency, a consultancy service for the retrofitting of Green Homes, and the development of city-wide plug-in hybrid vehicles. From 2004-5 he served as Director of RED, the innovation unit of Design Council, where he led the team working on public health.
He was a Fellow of the Young Foundation, for whom he co-authored two books on social innovation, and one on the Social Economy.
Listing the many socially important things he did and/or his theoretical contributions to understanding the current paradigm shift in various fields will never convey his contribution to all who came under his extraordinary influence. He was a shining light, bold, courageous, brilliant, immensely imaginative and the warmest and most generous of friends. The void he leaves can never be filled but we will always keep a beautiful memory of him and the ideas he shared will bear fruit in our work.
Murray, R. (2015) ‘Post-Post Fordism in the Era of Platforms’ New Formations, 84/85
Murray, R. (2015) ‘Prospects for innovation in the Co-operative Economy’, in Ed Mayo (ed) The Co-operative Advantage, Co-operatives UK 2015
Murray, R. (2012) ‘Global Civil Society and the Rise of the Civil Economy’ in Kaldor, M., Moore, H.L. and Selchow, S. (eds) Global Civil Society 2012: Ten Years of Critical Reflection, Palgrave MacMillan
Murray, R. (2011) ‘Raising the Bar or Directing the Flood’ in John Bowes (ed) The Fair Trade Revolution, Pluto
Murray, R., Caulier-Grice, J. and Mulgan, G. (2010) The Open Book of Social Innovation, NESTA and The Young Foundation
Murray, R. (2010) Co-operation in the Age of Google, Co-operatives UK
Murray, R. (2009) Danger and Opportunity: Crisis and the New Social Economy, NESTA
Murray, R., Caulier-Grice, J. and Mulgan, G. (2009) Social Venturing, NESTA and The Young Foundation