Dr Rob Macmillan

Job title: 
Principal Research Fellow, BA(Hons), MA, PhD

Phone 0114 225 2929

Rob Macmillan is a Principal Research Fellow at CRESR - the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research. He joined Sheffield Hallam University in June 2017 from the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) at the University of Birmingham.

He has over 20 years' experience of researching aspects of the third sector, voluntary and community action and community development in collaboration with other academics and researchers, policy makers and funders, and with key third sector organisations. From an inter-disciplinary background in social policy, politics, political economy and sociology, his main research interests are around the long term qualitative dynamics and contested politics of voluntary action, theoretical understandings of voluntary action, in particular the development and application of field theory in the third sector, the awkward relationships between markets, the state and the third sector, and a longstanding interest in the changing field of capacity building and third sector support infrastructure.

Rob has been co-investigator on two recent ESRC-funded research projects: (1) 'Change in the Making' (2016-2020, with colleagues at the University of Birmingham), a qualitative longitudinal investigation of organisational change in voluntary action, which builds upon an earlier programme of qualitative longitudinal research ('Real Times') with a diverse set of case studies of voluntary action; and (2) 'Discourses of Voluntary Action' (2017-2019, with colleagues in the Universities of Northumbria, Birmingham, Southampton, and University College, London), involving a comparison of debates on the role and position of voluntary action in social welfare in the 1940s and the 2010s - two transformative moments in the development of social welfare provision in England.

He is also involved in 'Our Bigger Story', the longitudinal multi-media evaluation of the Big Local programme (funded by Local Trust, and led by the University of Birmingham), and co-directs a long term evaluation of Power to Change's 'market development' work.

Rob's research has primarily been funded through the ESRC, but has also been supported by the Big Lottery Fund, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, national and local voluntary organisations, and government departments. 

He is part of Sheffield Hallam University's Voluntary Action Research Group (VARG), and a member of several external research and evaluation advisory groups. 

Research interests

  • Third Sector
  • Voluntary and Community Action
  • Public Service Markets
  • Community Development
  • Qualitative Longitudinal Methods

Current reserarch projects

2015-2022 Our Bigger Story: longitudinal multi-media evaluation of Big Local. Local Trust, Role: Evaluation team member.

2019-2022 Market Development - Evaluation and Learning Support, Power to Change. Role: Co-director.

2016-2020 Change in the making: a dynamic and relational landscape of voluntary action, ESRC. Role: Co-Investigator.

2017-2019 Discourses of Voluntary Action at two 'Transformational Moments' of the Welfare State, the 1940s and 2010s, ESRC. Role: Co-Investigator.

Selected research reports

Dobson, J., Harris, C. and Macmillan, R. (2020) Network Support: Community business peer networking before and during coronavirus. Power to Change.

Dobson, J., Macmillan, R. and Wells, P. (2020) Food for thought: Understanding market development in the community business sector. Power to Change.

Brewis, G., Ellis Paine, A., Hardill, I., Lindsey, R. and Macmillan, R. (2019) It's time to talk: Voluntary action, the state and welfare provision. Research briefing.

McCabe, A., Wilson, M., Macmillan, R. with: Morgans, P. and Edwards, M. (2017) Big Local: Beyond the Early Years Our Bigger Story: The Longitudinal Multi Media Evaluation of Big Local 2015 – 2016  Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre.

Clinks-NCVO-TSRC (2016) Change and challenge: the voluntary sector’s role in Transforming Rehabilitation. London: Clinks.

Clinks-NCVO-TSRC (2015) Early doors: the voluntary sector’s role in Transforming Rehabilitation. London: Clinks.

Macmillan, R. and Ellis-Paine, A., with Kara, H., Dayson, C., Sanderson, E. and Wells, P. (2014) Building Capabilities in the Voluntary Sector: What the evidence tells usTSRC Research Report 125. Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre.

Buckingham, H., Ellis Paine, A., Alcock, P., Kendall, J. and Macmillan, R. (2014) Who’s speaking for whom? Exploring issues of third sector leadership, leverage and legitimacy - TSRC Working Paper 121. Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre.

Walton, C. and Macmillan, R. (2014) A brave new world for voluntary sector infrastructure? Vouchers, markets and demand-led capacity building - TSRC Working Paper 118. Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre.

Alcock, P., Butt, C. and Macmillan, R. (2013) Unity in Diversity: What is the Future for the Third Sector? Third Sector Futures Dialogue 2012-2013Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre.

3SC-TSRC (2013) The voluntary and community sector in criminal justice: a capacity building action plan. London: Ministry of Justice.

Macmillan, R., Taylor, R., Arvidson, M., Soteri-Proctor, A. and Teasdale, S. (2013) The third sector in unsettled times: a field guide - TSRC Working Paper 109. Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre.

Macmillan, R. (2013) Making sense of the Big Society: perspectives from the third sector - TSRC Working Paper 90. Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre.

Macmillan, R. and McLaren, V. (2012) Third Sector Leadership – the power of narrative - TSRC Working Paper 76. Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre.

Macmillan, R., Arvidson, M., Soteri-Proctor, A., Taylor, R. and Teasdale, S. (2012) ‘What happens next?’ Researching the third sector using qualitative longitudinal methods - Timescapes Methods Guides Series No. 15. Leeds: University of Leeds.

Dickinson, H., Allen, K., Alcock, P., Macmillan, R., and Glasby, J. (2012) The role of the third sector in delivering social care: a scoping review. Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre.

Macmillan, R. (2011) Seeing things differently? The promise of qualitative longitudinal research on the third sector - TSRC Working Paper 56. Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre.

Macmillan, R. (2010) The third sector delivering public services: an evidence review - TSRC Working Paper 20. Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre.

IVAR (2010) BIG and small: Capacity building, small organisations and the Big Lottery Fund. London: Institute for Voluntary Action Research.

Batty, E., Macmillan, R., Pearson, S., and Wells, P. (2009) Evaluation of the South Yorkshire Social Infrastructure Programme Report F: Core Infrastructure Services. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University.

Wells, P. and Dayson, C. with Macmillan, R. (2009) Evaluation of the South Yorkshire Social Infrastructure Programme Report J: Evaluation Framework. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University.

Macmillan, R. (2008) A Shape of Things to Come: Reviewing County Durham’s Voluntary and Community Sector Infrastructure. Report for the One Voice Network, County Durham.

Coule, T., Pearson, S., and Macmillan, R. (2008) Valuing the Voluntary and Community Sector in Rotherham in 2008. Rotherham: Voluntary Action Rotherham.

Macmillan, R. with Batty, E., Goudie, R., Morgan, G. and Pearson, S. (2007) Building effective local voluntary and community sector infrastructure. Sheffield: NAVCA.

Webster, S., Tinklin, T. and Macmillan, R. (2007) A Needs Analysis of the Voluntary and Community Sector in Rotherham 2007. Rotherham: Voluntary Action Rotherham.

Macmillan, R. (2006) Part of the Picture The Voluntary and Community Sector across South Yorkshire. Rotherham, South Yorkshire Open Forum.

Macmillan, R. (2006) A Rapid Evidence Assessment of the Benefits of Voluntary and Community Sector Infrastructure. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University.

Batty, E., Hall, M., Jones, C., Macmillan, R. and Morgan, G. (2005) Looking Ahead….Visions of voluntary and community sector infrastructure in Leicester Shire. Report for the LeicesterShire VCS Infrastructure Consortium and LeicesterShire Funders Panel.

Ellis, A., Hindley, A., Macmillan, R., Scott, D. and Servante, D. (2004) No Overall Control: Experiencing Community Development in Rural Britain. Manchester: Centre for Applied Social Research, University of Manchester.

Macmillan, R. (2004) Shaping the future... The development of voluntary and community sector infrastructure in County Durham. Report for the One Voice Network, County Durham.

Breeze, J., Fothergill, S. and Macmillan, R. (2000) Matching ‘New Deal’ to rural needs. Cheltenham, Countryside Agency.

Academic Publications

Bennett, E., Coule, T., Damm, C., Dayson, C., Dean, J. and Macmillan, R. (2019) Civil society strategy: a policy review. Voluntary Sector Review, 10 (2), pp. 213–223.

Macmillan, R. and Kendall, J. (2019) The moving frontier and beyond: the third sector and social policy. In: E. Heins, J. Rees and C. Needham (eds) Social Policy Review 31: Analysis and Debate in Social Policy. Bristol: Policy Press: pp. 177-195.

Macmillan, R. and Rees, J. (2019) Voluntary and community welfare. In: M. Powell (ed) (2019) Understanding the mixed economy of welfare (2nd edition). Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 91-112.

Dayson, C., Ellis Paine, A., Macmillan, R. and Sanderson, E. (2017) Third sector capacity building: the institutional embeddedness of supply. Voluntary Sector Review, 8 (2), pp. 149-168.

Cornforth, C. and Macmillan, R. (2016) Evolution in Board Chair-CEO Relationships: A Negotiated Order Perspective. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 45 (5), pp. 949-970.

Macmillan, R. (2016) Capacity building for competition: the role of infrastructure in third sector service delivery, In: Rees, J. and Mullins, D. (eds) The Third Sector Delivering Public Services: Developments, innovations and challenges. Bristol: Policy Press: pp.107-25.

Macmillan, R. (2016) Talking up the voluntary sector in criminal justice: market making in rehabilitation, In Rees, J. and Mullins, D. (eds) The Third Sector Delivering Public Services: Developments, innovations and challenges. Bristol: Policy Press: pp.237-60.

Walton, C. and Macmillan, R.(2015) What’s the problem? The role of diagnosis in building the capacity of voluntary and community organisations. Voluntary Sector Review, 6 (3), pp. 325-332.

Livingstone, I. and Macmillan, R.(2015) More than a provider: the voluntary sector and market diversity in criminal justice. Voluntary Sector Review, 6 (2), pp. 221-230.

Macmillan, R. (2015) Starting from elsewhere: reimagining the third sector, the state and the market. People, Place & Policy Online, 9 (2), pp. 103-109.

Taylor, R., Arvidson, M., Macmillan, R., Soteri–Proctor, A., and Teasdale, S. (2014) What's In It For Us? Consent, Access And The Meaning Of Research In A Qualitative Longitudinal Study, In: Camfield, L. (ed) Methodological Challenges and New Approaches to Research in International Development Basingstoke: Macmillan: pp.38-58.

Macmillan, R. (2013) Demand-led capacity building, the Big Lottery Fund and market-making in third sector support services. Voluntary Sector Review, 4 (3), pp. 385-394.

Macmillan, R. (2013) De-coupling the state and the third sector? The ‘Big Society’ as a spontaneous order. Voluntary Sector Review, 4 (2), pp. 185-203.

Macmillan, R. (2013) ‘Distinction’ in the third sector. Voluntary Sector Review, 4 (1), pp. 39-54.

Macmillan, R. (2011) ‘Supporting’ the voluntary sector in an age of austerity: the U.K. coalition government’s consultation on improving support for frontline civil society organisations in England. Voluntary Sector Review, 2 (1), pp. 115-124.

Macmillan, R. (2011) The Big Society and participation failurePeople, Place & Policy Online, 5 (2), pp. 107-114.

Crisp, R., Macmillan, R., Robinson, D. and Wells, P. (2009) Continuity or Change: what a future Conservative government might mean for regional, housing and welfare policies. People, Place & Policy Online, 3 (1), pp. 58-74.

Macmillan, R. (2007) Understanding the idea of ‘grant dependency’ in the voluntary and community sector. People, Place and Policy Online, 1 (1), pp. 30-38.

Macmillan, R. and Townsend, A.R. (2006) 'A ‘new institutional fix’? The ‘community turn’ and the changing role of the voluntary sector', In: Milligan, C. & Conradson, D. (eds) Landscapes of Voluntarism: New Spaces of Health, Welfare and Governance. Bristol: Policy Press: pp.15-32.

Macmillan, R. (2005) 'Taking time seriously: adding temporal depth to qualitative research in the voluntary sector' In: Alcock, P. and Scott, D. (eds)(2005) Close work: Doing qualitative research in the voluntary sector (West Malling, Charities Aid Foundation), pp. 44-45.

Macmillan, R. and Scott, A. (2003) On the case? Dilemmas of collaborative research. Area, 35 (1), pp. 101-109.

Alcock, P., Beatty, C., Fothergill, S., Macmillan, R. and Yeandle, S. (2003) Work to Welfare: How Men Become Detached from the Labour Market. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Beatty, C., Fothergill, S. and Macmillan, R. (2000) A Theory of Employment, Unemployment and Sickness. Regional Studies, 34 (7), pp. 617-630.

Scott, D., Alcock, P., Russell, L. and Macmillan, R. (2000) Moving Pictures: Realities of voluntary action. Bristol: Policy Press.

Alcock, P., Harrow, J., Macmillan, R., Vincent, J. and Pearson, S. (1999) Making funding work: Funding regimes and local voluntary organisations. York: York Publishing Services.

Sheffield Hallam University is not responsible for the content of external websites

Key clients

Economic and Social Research Council
Local Trust
Power to Change
Follow us

Bookmark or share this page