Research Associate | Co-lead of Collaborative Action Research workstream
Dr James Henderson is working with What Works Scotland Co-director Nick Bland and the Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership – one of the four case study areas – on a collaborative action research initiative.
About James’ research interests
James has worked on social research, policy and communications work in the third sector since 2001, including working on:
- participatory and action research projects on health and well-being, community care, and community regeneration in Craigmillar, Glasgow, Fife and more widely
- research activities with the community sector to further understand the work of development trusts, community social enterprises, community housing associations and community-led health organisations – in particular through the Scottish Community Alliance and its member bodies
- policy and practice-related research and communications work with the Built Environment Forum Scotland, greenspace scotland, Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland, and most recently the Scottish Association for Mental Health.
Recently, James has completed an ESRC-funded PhD at Heriot-Watt University’s Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Environment & Real Estate – supervised by Dr Chris McWilliams and Professor Angela Hull – exploring community sector theory and practice, particularly through the role of community-led anchor organisations; drawing on theory from urban policy, community development and social enterprise; and undertaking qualitative, critical case-study research.
Given this diversity of experience and interests, What Works Scotland has an intuitive appeal for him with its emphasis on cross sector and inter-disciplinary working via research, policy and knowledge exchange projects; a significant opportunity for further exploration of ‘what works’ and why, how and what results.
James joined What Works Scotland in March 2015 and is based at the School of Health in Social Science at the University of Edinburgh.
What Works Scotland Publications
- Transforming communities? Exploring the roles of community anchor organisations in public service reform, local democracy, community resilience and social change (May 2018) Co-authored
- Inquiring into Multi-layered, Preventative Partnership (March 2018) Co-authored
- Exploring collaborative learning, research and action in public service reform: Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Change Fund Beyond Action Learning initiative (January 2017)
- Reflecting on what works in developing authentic relationships in complex settings (December 2016) – Co-authored
- Learning about community capacity-building from the Community Links Worker approach in Insch, Aberdeenshire (2013-16): a collaborative action research enquiry (cycle 1) (November 2016) – Co-authored
- “Challenge current practice and assumptions!” Make waves!!” What Works Scotland Collaborative Learning Event (June 2016) – Co-authored
- Scoping Report from the Aberdeenshire CPP and What Works Scotland’s Collaborative Learning Day on 8 December 2015: What does it mean to put ‘Christie’ into action? (June 2016) – Co-authored
- Community Anchors (November 2015)
- Collaborative Action Retreat Report – Summary of retreat held in June 2015 (October 2015) – Co-authored
What Works Scotland blog posts
- Mapping the frontiers of collaborative governance (April 2018)
- Health and Social Care Integration: seeking the ‘space’ and commitment to support complex local partnership-working (March 2016)
- People making a difference in communities … a participatory cross-sector conference (December 2015)
- Community Anchors and Opportunities for Locally-led Public Service Reform (November 2015)
Cultivating ‘Sanction and Sanctuary’ in Scottish Collaborative Governance: Doing Relational Work to Support Communicative Spaces.
A chapter in Action Research in Policy Analysis. Critical and Relational Approaches to Sustainability Transitions . Edited by Koen P.R. Bartels, Julia M. Wittmayer and published by Routledge.
This book explores how action research forms a valuable methodology for producing such collaborative knowledge and action. It outlines the recent uptake of action research in policy analysis and transition research and develops a distinct and novel approach that is both critical and relational. By sharing action research experiences in a variety of settings, the book seeks to explicate ambitions, challenges, and practices involved with fostering policy changes and sustainability transitions.
Co-authored with Claire Bynner