Notable People

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Donald Robertson

Born 17 May 1926, Glasgow, Scotland.
Died 22 August 1970.

One of the leading industrial relations experts of his day, with Alec Cairncross, he pioneered multi-disciplinary social and economic research.

Connection to the University of Glasgow: Alumnus, Lecturer, Professor
GU Degree: MA, 1949;

Discover more economists; political scientists on the University of Glasgow Story website


The following achievement is associated with Donald Robertson:

Developing and applying multi-disciplinary social and economic research
Alec Cairncross and Donald Robertson used their expertise and vision to create an multi-disciplinary academic department which led the way in applied socio-economic research, especially in the field of urban and regional planning.


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Donald James Robertson (1926-1970) was Professor of Applied Economics and Head of the Department of Social and Economic Research from 1961 until he was appointed to the Chair of Industrial Relations and made a Principal's Assessor in 1969.

Born in Glasgow, Robertson's studies at the University were disrupted by the Second World War (he served as a First Lieutenant on minesweepers from 1945 to 1947) but he graduated MA in 1949. He became a lecturer at the University, first in Social and Economic Research and then in Political Economy from 1952 until his appointment to the Chair of Applied Economics and Head of the Department of Social and Economic Research (1961).

Robertson proceeded to build on the multi-disciplinary research programme established by Alec Cairncross, taking advantage of more favourable funding opportunities to build research teams. He was prominent in pioneering applied research into major public policy issues of the day, especially urban development and change and the challenges of industrial re-structuring in the postwar world, and made major contributions to the development of urban and regional studies as an academic discipline.

During the 1960s, Robertson's services as a leading arbitrator in industrial relations disputes were also in great demand. Among many public offices, he was appointed a member and Chairman of the Wages Councils from 1955 to 1969; Chairman of the Courts of Inquiry on Rootes (Scotland) Ltd (1968) and on Labour Relations at Heathrow Airport (1970); an Economic Consultant to the Secretary of State for Scotland; President of the Universities Industrial Relations Association from 1962 to 1965, and a Director of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce from 1966 to 1969.