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Co-operatives Research Unit

Dr Mike Aiken


Dr Mike Aiken is a freelance researcher, lecturer and writer in social research specialising in the third sector - including co-operative, community and civil society initiatives. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Co-operatives Research Unit at the Open University where he has been involved since 1998 as a doctoral student, researcher, freelancer or collaborator. This has involved investigations concerning the values of third sector organisations, the co-operative advantage, European work integration social enterprises, approaches to disseminating measurement and outcomes learning, governance and capacity building, social enterprise activity within charities, and international case studies on social innovation. He has also been an invited speaker at academic and practitioner events in Germany, Mexico, Poland, Sweden and Japan. During two sabbaticals in Mexico he has undertaken research into civil society organisations and lectured in social policy at Masters level.

Mike was Head of Research at the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) between 2010 and 2012. There he was involved in projects concerned with community development, advocacy, state/third sector representation mechanisms, community participation and the role of asset ownership and management. He has guest lectured on Birkbecks’s Voluntary and Community Sector MSC and co-convened the University of Sussex’s Management of Voluntary Organisations course. Before this, Mike was a practitioner in the third sector for nearly 20 years at the Development Trusts Association, Community Matters and Save the Children.

Mike holds a PhD from the Open University, an MA in Social Policy from the University of Sussex and a BA Hons degree in philosophy from the University of Wales. He is a committee member of the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN, UK) and a member of the Social Policy Association (UK), European Social Enterprise Research Network (EMES, Belgium) and ARNOVA (Cleveland, USA). He speaks German and Spanish to intermediate level.


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