James Rees is Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership. He joined the Open University in March 2016; prior to that he worked at the Universities of Birmingham and Manchester in a range of disciplines including Geography, Politics and Social Policy. His work is notably inter-disciplinary and is concerned with the voluntary sector in its broadest sense, but also more specifically in its relationship with current transformations in public services in the UK. At the Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham, he led the public service delivery programme, research from which helped set the agenda for debates on the involvement of voluntary organisations in public services. His jointly-edited collection on The Third Sector delivering Public Services was published by Policy Press in July 2016.
Recent research has focused on the role of the third sector in service delivery, cross-sectoral partnership, commissioning, and organisational change and the role of citizens and service users, drawing on a range of theoretical traditions in the fields of governance and organisational studies. He has also been involved in a range of applied and practical research projects particularly in relation to data labs and the reforms to probation services under Transforming Rehabilitation; with partners such as New Philanthropy Capital, Clinks and NCVO. He has also been funded by ESRC, NIHR, Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, and Erasmus+. He also has long-standing research interests in urban and regional governance, and has published more broadly on housing policy, urban regeneration and community and citizen engagement.
James has taught widely at undergraduate and postgraduate level since 2007. At Birmingham he convened two Masters level modules on the Third Sector in Social Policy, and Social Policy Futures.
Since October 2016 he has been supervising three Ou PhD students, focusing on areas such as health, mental health, leadership, online education and public and social value:
James is a co-editor of Voluntary Sector Review and co-editor of Social Policy Review.
He is a member of the Editorial Management Board of VSR and board member of Social Policy Review.