James Rees


Research Fellow

Third Sector Research Centre

James Rees, Research Fellow, Third Sector Research Centre

Contact details

School of Social Policy, Third Sector Research Centre
Park House
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom


James joined TSRC in February 2011. His research explores the transformations that are occurring in the delivery of public services in the UK. He focuses on the role of the third sector in service delivery, cross-sectoral partnership, 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.

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  • PhD (Planning and Landscape) University of Manchester, 2007
  • MA (International Relations and Development Studies) University of East Anglia, 2001
  • MA (Geography) University of Oxford, 1999


Before joining TSRC James was a researcher at the Institute for Economic Governance at the University of Manchester. He completed his PhD entitled ‘Housing Market Renewal: Gentrification or Mixed Sustainable Communities?’ at Manchester in 2007. Prior to that he was a research assistant at the Centre for Urban Policy Studies, also at the University of Manchester. He has researched extensively on sub-national governance in work funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the European Commission (ESPON); and by other public bodies such as the Northern Way and Manchester City Council. He has a track record of research on communities, neighbourhoods and the voluntary and community sector, including the national evaluation of New Deal for Communities (for ODPM), evaluation of community contracts (CLG), voluntary sector delivery of public services and their role in tackling worklessness (for North West regional bodies), and on housing policy, practice and equalities for the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). More recently he has completed research projects funded by the AHRC Connected Communities programme; and is currently involved in contract research funded by the Ministry of Justice and New Philanthropy Capital.


James’ research centres on the third sector, particularly on the role of the sector in the delivery of public services. More widely he is interested in issues concerning the reform and transformation of public services and public policy, including citizen engagement and involvement. At TSRC he worked closely with David Mullins and Tony Bovaird, with whom he carried out research on third sector partnerships for service delivery. With Rebecca Taylor, he has researched the third sector’s role in the Work Programme through ‘The third sector delivering employment services'. The main research report was published in February 2013. Research from autumn 2012 has focused on shifts in public services associated with the new commissioning landscape, and its implications for the third sector, focusing in particularly on the commissioning of mental health service.

James also has academic interests in urban and regional governance, with a particular focus on the politics of city-regionalism; critical perspectives on urban housing market restructuring and housing policy; and broadly on issues in urban regeneration, neighbourhoods and community.


Rees, J. (2014) ‘Public sector commissioning and the third sector: old wine in new bottles?’, forthcoming in Public Policy and Administration.

Rees, J., Whitworth, A., and Carter, E. (2014) ‘Support for all in the UK Work Programme? Differential payments, same old problem’ forthcoming in Social Policy and Administration.

Beebeejaun, Y., Durose, C., Rees, J., Richardson, J and Richardson, L. (2014) ‘Public Harm or Public Value? Towards co-production in research with communities,’ forthcoming in Environment and Planning C.

Purdam, K., Richardson, L., Cotterill, S., Rees, J., and Squires, G. (2014) ‘Responsible Citizens and Accountable Service Providers? Renegotiating the Contract Between Citizen and State,’ forthcoming in Environment and Planning A.

Rees, J. and Lord, A. (2014) ‘Leaving the city region behind: The growth and decline of metropolitan rescaling in Manchester, England.’ Forthcoming chapter in Shield, Lord and Jones (eds) City-Regions in Prospect? exploring the meeting points between place and practice, Montreal: McGill-Queens.


Beebeejaun, Y., Durose, C., Rees, J., Richardson, J., Richardson, L. (2013) "Public harm or public value? Towards coproduction in research with communities" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, advance online publication, doi:10.1068/c12116

Rees, J. and Lord, A. (2013) ‘Making space: Putting politics back where it belongs in the construction of city regions in the North of England’ Local Economy, 28(7-8) 679-695.

Rafferty, A., Rees, J., Sensier, M., and Harding, A. (2013) ‘Understanding Growth and Recession: Underemployment and the Labour Market in the North of England,’ Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy, 6(2) 143-163.

Beebeejaun, Y., Durose, C., Rees, J., Richardson, J and Richardson, L. (2013) ‘Beyond Text: developing methods for co-productive research with communities,’ Community Development Journal, published online in February 2013.

Durose, C. and Rees, J. (2012) ‘The rise and fall of neighbourhood in the New Labour era: tracing the decline and (partial) replacement of a spatial concept’, Policy and Politics, 40(1) 39-55.

Harding, A., Harloe, M. and Rees, J. (2010) Manchester’s Bust Regime?, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34(4) 981-991.

Rees, J. (2009) ‘Urban Housing Market Restructuring and the Re-casting of Neighbourhood Governance’ in Durose, C., Greasley, S. and Richardson, L. (eds.) Changing local governance, changing citizens, Bristol: Policy Press.

Burch, M., Harding, A. and Rees, J. (2009) Having it both ways: explaining the contradiction in the English spatial development policy, International Journal of Public Sector Management, 22 (07) 587-604.

Burch, M., Harding, A. and Rees, J. (2008) ‘The English Question’, in Hazell, R. (ed) Constitutional Futures, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Public service reform, outsourcing and contracting out, privatisation, and the role of the voluntary and community sector in public service delivery.

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