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Centre Director

Photo of Dr Carol Jacklin-Jarvis

Dr Carol Jacklin-Jarvis

Carol spent over 20 years working in public and voluntary organisations before returning to academia to research voluntary sector leadership and collaboration.  Previous posts include Director of Amber Valley CVS and Strategy Manager for Localities and Childcare at Poole Borough Council.  In 2014, she became a lecturer in the Department for Public Leadership and Social Enterprise (PuLSE), where she teaches on modules focused on collaboration, leadership, and ‘management beyond the mainstream’.  She is co-author of CVSL's open access courses on leadership in the voluntary sector, author of an undergraduate block on Collaborative Leadership, and contributor to the OU's new module on Leadership in a Changing World.

Carol's research addresses the experiences of voluntary sector leaders as they collaborate with public agencies, building directly on her own work experience.  Her interest is in research that makes a difference to practice, impacting on the development of leadership in voluntary organisations and collaborative contexts.  With CVSL colleagues, Carol was a member of the Lloyds Bank Foundation funded research The Value of Small that explored the specific contribution of smaller voluntary organisations.  She has written about the development of voluntary action in new housing developments, and, with Karen Potter, about the similarities and differences between voluntary organisations in the welfare and environmental domains and their different experience of collaboration with the state.

Carol takes on the role of Centre Director from August 2019. 

Centre Chair

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Professor Siv Vangen

Siv is Professor of Collaborative Leadership, founding director and Chair of the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership. Her research, which has spanned two decades, focuses on governing, leading and managing inter-organisational collaboration. Siv has worked with numerous voluntary and public organisations that engage in collaboration on issues such as social exclusion, anti-poverty, substance abuse, public health, community development and planning, economic development and many more. Her expertise gained primarily through ‘research oriented action research’ and other forms of engaged research, is related to processes of collaboration rather than these various substantive issues.

The aim of Siv’s research is to explore the complexity that underlies collaborative situations in practice, to investigate the challenges that are intrinsic to them and to develop conceptual frameworks that can in turn inform collaboration in practice. Over the years, her joint research with Emeritus Professor Chris Huxham, has evolved into a theory of collaborative advantage (TCA). The TCA, as such, is a practice based theory about governing, leading and managing collaborations derived from research involving practitioners on matters that are of genuine concern to them and over which they need to act. Through the CVSL, Siv aims to continue to develop the TCA through research that focuses on issues of particular concern to voluntary organisations.

Centre Members

Photo of Dr James Rees

Dr James Rees

James was previously the Anthony Nutt Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership. Before joining the Open University, James worked at the Universities of Birmingham and Manchester within a range of disciplines including Geography, Politics and Social Policy. His work is inter-disciplinary and is concerned with the voluntary sector in its broadest sense, but also more particularly in relation to current transformations in public services in the UK. 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 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. 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, for example in the Work Programme. His jointly-edited collection on The Third Sector in Public Services was published by Policy Press in July 2016.

He has always sought to produce research that is accessible and relevant to non-academic audiences, and to take part in and influence policy debates. Recent collaborative work with TSRC colleague and partners such as Clinks, NCVO and New Philanthropy Capital involved the creation of a capacity building action plan for the Ministry of Justice in 2013, evaluation of Data Lab initiatives, and ‘tracking’ the development of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme (both ongoing). Previous research has been funded by ESRC and AHRC, Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG), the European Commission (ESPON), and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).


Photo of Dr Jacqueline Baxter

Dr Jacqueline Baxter

Jacqueline Baxter is based in The Department of Public Leadership and Social enterprise and is Chair of the final module in the MBA programme. Her research interests lie in the area of education governance and accountability and the role of boards in the governing of the public services. She is particularly interested in how volunteer boards and trustees create and implement strategy within the complex and rapidly changing area of education in England. As part of this her work takes an interdisciplinary approach which includes areas such as: trustee motivation, trustee identity, sense making activities of public sector boards, and the role of the volunteer in public sector governance and leadership. Her most recent books include: School Inspectors: policy implementers, policy shapers (Springer, 2017 forthcoming) and School Governance: Policy, Politics and Practices (Bristol, The Policy Press 2016). She is on The Council of The British Education Leadership, Management and Administration Society and Co Editor of the longstanding Sage Journal: Management in Education which looks to bring both a policy and practice perspective to leadership, management and governance in the sector.

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Professor Chris Cornforth

Chris Cornforth is Emeritus Professor of Organisational Governance and Management. His research focuses on the governance and leadership of third sector organisations and has helped break new ground both theoretically and methodologically in understanding the behaviour of boards and their relations with senior managers. Recent research includes an international comparative study of what makes board chairs effective with colleagues in the US and Canada, a study of the governance of cross-sector partnerships, and a study of the relationship between chairs and chief executives. He has published widely in academic journals and books, and in a range of publications for practitioners. He co-edited the book ‘Nonprofit Governance: Innovative Perspectives and Approaches

Chris was a founder member of Oxfordshire Co-operative Development Agency and served as a board member and then Chair for several years. He was a board member of Oxford Citizens Housing Association from 2004-12. He is currently a board member of the Association of Chairs 

Michael Ngoasong

Michael Ngoasong is a Senior Lecturer in Management and Director of Masters Programmes at Open University Business School. He is currently collaborating with CVSL colleagues, Dr James Rees and Dr Vita Terry, to develop a new research project uncovering the determinants of social enterprise creation within small, medium and large voluntary sector organisations (VSOs) in the UK. The aim of this research is to understand i) why and in what ways VSOs are setting up social enterprises within their portfolio of charity-related activities and the varied ways in which they may go about it, and ii) to critically examine the notion that setting up social enterprises is a sustainable way to diversify income and provide access to less-restricted funding, and thus greater autonomy.

Michael’s main research interest centres on the links between entrepreneurship and development, with case studies spanning tourism, healthcare, energy, agribusiness and digital technology sectors. Recent research include a British Academy funded collaborative project with Dr Albert Kimbu, University of Surrey, which involved stakeholder engagement workshops debating and evaluating the commercial and social transformational impacts of women as owner-managers of small tourism firms. As Online Education Consultant, his previous research on global public-private partnerships in access to medication informed the Health Leadership and Management Training

Karen Potter

Karen joined the OU in March 2016 as a Research Fellow in Collaborative Governance in the Department of Public Leadership and Social Enterprise (PuLSE). She is involved with one of the University's priority research areas aimed at addressing 21st century global challenges, Citizenship and Governance, rethinking the changing relationships between states, markets and citizens in the 21st century.   With former qualifications in environmental management and planning, Karen initially worked in practice at the Forestry Commission and as Local Authority Planner, involved (with the benefit of academic hindsight) in the ‘New Public Governance’ era of development of cross sector and multi-agency environmental and regeneration partnerships in public policy decision making and delivery.  Before joining the OU she was lecturing in planning and environmental management at the Department of Geography and Planning (University of Liverpool). 

Karen’s more recent research interest in the voluntary or third sector was somewhat ‘accidental’, working closely with Rivers Trusts as their role in natural flood risk management was recently extended under the new government initiative ‘Catchment Based Approach’ (CaBA) (from 2011).  Initially seeing Rivers Trusts and other environmental NGOs as the policy entrepreneurs in this arena, she is now working closely with Carol Jacklin-Jarvis of the CVSL to further an understanding of the policy and practice implications of the government’s novel policy initiative to engage with NGOs to deliver on national and EU level policy (EU Water Framework Directive).  They are drawing on two decades of experience and the associated body of theoretically informed third sector (Welfare State) research to further an understanding of factors that will determine the longer term sustainability and success of environmental partnerships, particularly ‘CaBA’ partnerships hosted by Rivers Trusts and other VOs. 

Her broader area of interests span the ‘shifting’ state of water governance, presently working with a multi-disciplinary research consortium on the EPSRC-funded research project - 'Achieving Flood Resilience in an Uncertain Future', how resilient urban flood risk management can be put at the heart of urban planning and how challenges to innovation can be overcome despite uncertainties in future urban climates, land-use, development and political leadership.  Her precious, relevant research projects and activity include: Open University Strategic Research Area, Collaborative Governance Theory in ‘Catchment Partnerships’ (2016) and whilst at the University of Liverpool: WaterCore Action Group on Regional Governance of Water Scarcity and Drought Issues (EC European Innovation Partnership); Knowledge Transfer Partnership; Breakdown of Institutional Barriers to Natural Approaches to Flood Risk Management (NERC/Welsh Government/Technology Strategy Board, 2012-2016); Celtic Seas Partnership (Co-I, LIFE+ EC, 2013-2016); Pioneers in Urban-Rural Entrepeneurship Hub (Co-I, Interreg EC, 2012-2014). 

Photo of Dr Owain Smolovic-Jones

Dr Owain Smolovic-Jones

Owain teaches and researches leadership and its development, primarily in the public and voluntary sectors. His approach is political, particularly focusing on the power dynamics of learning and enacting leadership. Owain completed his PhD at Cranfield University under the supervision of Keith Grint, researching the political dynamics of public sector leadership development programmes. Prior to entering academic life, he worked in communications for the Labour Party.

Dr Vita Terry

Vita is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership at the Open University. She has a long standing interest in the third sector, actively participating in the refugee sector in different capacities, including as policy researcher and volunteer, and for several years has been a trustee of a small local HIV charity. Before joining CVSL she worked as a Research Fellow at the Institute for Research into Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham, on projects including health seeking behaviour of residents in super-diverse areas and gender-based violence experienced along the refugee journey. She has been affiliated with the Third Sector Research Centre through working on the ‘Real Times’ project, and based there whilst undertaking an ESRC funded Social Policy PhD. Her PhD research project investigates how asylum seeker and refugee third sector organisations navigate these challenging and complex times, with a particular focus on organisational change, and bringing back the role of actors and agency. Vita has also experienced working in a government setting whilst undertaking an ESRC funded internship at the Welsh Assembly.  

Vita’s main research area is the third sector, including focusing on small organisations, service provision, organisational change, hybrid organisational forms, actors and agency, and she has drawn on theoretical principles from institutional logics. More broadly Vita is interested in researching migration, asylum seekers and refugees, integration, and issues around ethnic minority communities. Vita has expertise in qualitative methods and interest in using particular research approaches, including ethnography and participatory methods. 

Dr Helen Britton

Helen is an educational practitioner, researcher and entrepreneur. After starting her professional life in the chemical industry, she re-trained to teach mathematics and to develop her entrepreneurial interests in construction and property restoration. She has lectured in mathematics and Access to Science and Technology. Helen has almost three decades of experience of designing and delivering innovative and inclusive courses and capital projects as part of multi-stakeholder initiatives within the United Kingdom. She acts as a consultant, approved training provider and contractor for several housing and voluntary sector organisations, local authorities and private businesses. Helen is a Fellow of the Society for Education and Training.

Her research interests are multi-disciplinary and embrace creativity and innovation; trust and risk and exploring the contradictory nature of collaboration involving community and voluntary organisations. Her broader areas of interest encompass philanthropy through individual mentoring and community development initiatives in South Africa where she provides skills development, funding and works alongside local training providers in the delivery of literacy, numeracy, creativity and construction initiatives.

Dr Fidèle Mutwarasibo

Fidèle has worked in the voluntary sector for over 25 years. His experience include working in community development (Rwanda); emergency and relief (Democratic Republic of Congo); research, community engagement, equality and anti-discrimination, fundraising, programme management, and policy and advocacy (Ireland). Since moving to the UK, he has been active in Citizens:MK  and Citizens UK, among others. In the UK, his focus has been on refugees, equality, diversity and hate crime. His social practices are underpinned by his passion and interest in human rights, diversity, immigration, integration, equality and social cohesion, community organising, identity and citizenship, leadership and capacity building.

His doctoral research explored the activation and strategies deployed  by migrant activists who have made a significant contribution in conventional and infra politics in Ireland. He has published extensively and contributed to public debate on immigration, integration, equality, diversity and social cohesion. His current research interests include: refugee/migrant led organisations; emerging social movements in response to the migration crisis; leadership in the voluntary sector; links between service delivery and advocacy by the third sector; social partnerships; social entrepreneurship and social economy; civil society’s response to populism and alternative truths . 

Fidèle is a member of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and a Principal Consultant at DILEAS Consulting. Over the last number of years he has undertaken consultancy assignments. His current and previous clients include: the Institute of Public Affairs (PL), the Centre for Public Policy – PROVIDUS (LV), Dublin City Council (IE), Fingal County Council (IE), the Immigrant Council of Ireland (IE), Diversity in Public Appointments (UK) and Fair Trials International (UK).

Research Students 

Lindsey Elliott


I am a pragmatic, interdisciplinary researcher and Business School newcomer. My academic background is in biology (BSc) and agroforestry (MSc) but my interests have focussed on the relationships between people and the environment, and between organisations working to protect the environment. I have worked in a variety of roles over the past 8 years, both as a researcher and practitioner, and enjoy working with a range of different groups – from local farmers to politicians.


I have worked for and researched voluntary organisations striving to protect the world’s biodiversity and am keen to help find ways to enable them to effectively collaborate together and with other sectors such as academia, business and policy. My PhD involves action research with a world leading collaboration between conservation NGOs and academic institutions to find practical ways to enable transdisciplinary collaboration.  



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Daniel Haslam

I am the Anthony Nutt Phd Scholar, and commence my research in October 2016. 

I have worked in the Voluntary/Third Sector for the last six years in a variety of different roles ranging from working as a personal support officer to working on strategic policy development. I’ve carried out these roles in a variety of different organisations, from small, local service providers to a national charity. I have also spent several years as a trustee of a local charity, including a year as chair during a period of great organisational change. My experience covers a variety of specialisms including: Criminal Justice; Learning Disability; Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity; and Mental Health. I was the coordinator of a Charity Award nominated project (2012) and have most recently been working for a Mental Health infrastructure organisation.

Over the years – and through my experiences – I have developed a good working knowledge of, and commitment to, the Voluntary Sector and the challenges it faces. I’m looking forward to bringing that knowledge to the development of my PhD and building on it through my research.

Academically I have a BA in Criminology and an MA in Sociology from Lancaster University, a PGCert in Management Studies from the University of Derby and an MA in Social Research Methods (Social Policy) from the University of Birmingham. 

Ronald Macintyre

Ronald has worked in open and distance education at the Open University since 2003, teaching on various OU modules in education and technology, authoring courses on sustainability and working as a researcher into the scholarship of teaching learning. Most recently this involved exploring the design production and use practices associated with free open online materials. Typically this involved working in partnership with other HEI and non-informal learning providers, in particular Third Sector organisations. Most recently Ronald was the R&D Manager of a Scottish Government programme Open Educational Practices Scotland hosted by the OU in Scotland.

Ronald has also maintained a personal and professional interest in the Third Sector, through directorships of various community companies and social enterprises and through his consultancy work.

His research will build on this earlier work into participatory design, digitisation and the Voluntary Sector.

You can find his profile on the OU open resource repository

Follow the development of his research at his blog

Photo of Cristina Mititelu

Cristina Mititelu

I am the Anthony Nutt Ph.D. Scholar, and commence my research from October 2016.

Within my role as a researcher and teaching assistant for the past five years, my research interests covered a variety of specialization which includes corporate social responsibility and sustainability, public management reforms and citizen engagement at local government, and more recently, I have been equally devoted to research in nonprofit organizations. Furthermore, I participated in teaching programs for different graduation and post-graduation specializations. I had also collaborated in research projects funded by local institutions, with relevance to investigating the nonprofit organizations, as well as international research projects on social economy. Within my role, I have been equally involved in volunteering and collaborating in the initial development of the laboratories dedicated to corporate social responsibility and social innovation. On a similar vein, I have publications in international journals and with editorial houses.

My academic career thus far includes BA in Political Science and MA in International Relations from the University of Bucharest, and as well as MA in Management and Innovation of Public Administration, and a doctoral research grant in Public Management and Governance from the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

Akash Puranik

Prior to the beginning of his PhD with The Open University, Akash has worked as a lecturer on MBA programmes delivered by Glyndwr University and University of Wales, designing and delivering modules for strategy, marketing and business environment. His background in the service and education industry, involvement with numerous charities as well as his personal interest in understanding ethical and moral implications of ‘working together’ inform his research work. The focus of Akash’s doctoral research is on exploring how non-contractual, informal collaborations, set up with the intention of benefiting communities, are organized. His ethnographic work intends to develop an inductive understanding of such a unique phenomenon through an in-depth exploration of exceptional cases.