Associate Behavioral Psycholog

United Nations Development Programme, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Skill Required:, Media and CommunicationProject/ Programme ManagementResearch and Analysis
Preferred Experience: 
7 to 10 Year
Closing Date for Applications: 
26th March, 2019

Job Description


UNDP is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges.

The lack of importance placed on the concepts of foresight and innovation, and its vital role in sustainable human development was a vacuum that was identified by the UNDP CO in Sri Lanka. With this in mind UNDP joined with several partners from the Government, development and private sectors to organize the First National Summit on Foresight and Innovation for Sustainable Human Development in 2016, which initiated a much needed conversation about the topics of innovation and foresight and its relevance in planning for a better future.

  • Being one of the main outcomes of the Summit, UNDP and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Research have initiated the establishment of Sri Lanka’s first Social Innovation Lab. The lab will act as a safe-space which allows for innovative policy prototypes to be developed by harnessing citizens’ insights and tested in a controlled environment, allowing the incorporation of feedback in order to further develop the policy being tested. Within UNDP and the Ministry, however, it is additionally a change initiative which is developing the following capacities and approaches among the public sector:
  • Foresight – evidence mapping, market intelligence/horizon scanning, systems mapping.
  • User insights – using citizen engagement to allow for comprehensive understanding of issues, as well as prototyped solutions
  • Crowd intelligence – receiving challenges through social innovation camps, using crowd sourcing methods to find solutions
  • Co-design – user-innovation; human-centered design, service design.
  • Via the aforementioned approaches, the Lab enables UNDP to partner with “unusual suspects” and assist the government, along with the Ministry, to better the public sector by reaching across sectors in order to provide policy recommendations and innovative solutions to meet the increasingly complex demands of Sri Lankan society.

Duties and Responsibilities

Under the overall guidance of the Lab Lead, the Behavioral Psychologist will perform the following functions:

  • Provide support on overall innovation strategy/action plan, including formulation, designing, planning and implementation of all tasks and activities of the Lab in any given 28-day cycle;
  • Provide expertise on behavioural psychology – from the stages of unpacking of the issue, to forming solutions, to testing, re-testing with feedback incorporated;
  • Proactively scout for new innovative ideas and opportunities that will further the work of the Lab;
  • Identify opportunities for resource mobilization and new partnerships at the divisional levels of the country which will become useful when testing prototypes during the 28-day cycle;
  • Develop partnerships and network with local innovators, youth organizations, NGOs, cultural and religious organizations, the private sector, local media and academia to build and provide a space to nurture and test new and innovative ideas, develop the next generation of thought leaders and build local capacity;
  • Work closely and effectively with government departments, and policy makers;
  • Coordinate and support development and testing of innovative solutions to policy issues brought to the Lab;
  • Train UNDP and Ministry staff, government counterparts and other end users in the country in the use of innovation products and processes;
  • Document tested innovation projects and processes and ensure effective sharing and generation of knowledge around innovations in the Ministry and UNDP, as well as with the general public
  • Assist in any and all other tasks as required for the operation of the Lab

Impact of Results

The Lab will be aligned to support national development priorities and economic policy through rapid prototyping of development ideas to complement accelerated initiatives. Not to be mistaken with a policy or idea implementing agency, the Lab will be able to comprehensively test an initial idea within a given timeline. The Lab can tackle efforts in the form of an idea, a problem or a solution.

It will be a rapid prototyping facility for ideas and development efforts, using foresight tools to take into account multiple alternative future scenarios to make the idea or solution future proof. The Lab will facilitate prototyping cycles of proposed 28-days, allowing for flexibility, but not exceeding 45 days per cycle.

Citizen engagement will be a central focus for the lab and will engage the public in order to identify citizen priorities for policy prototyping. Additionally, during the prototyping phase, maximum citizen engagement will be facilitated. Citizen ideas will be sought on specific issues via offline and online channels. Citizens will be also engaged in the process of the lab where prototypes will be tested in different locations, taking into considering the user journey mapping.


  • Experience working with civil society organizations, government ministries, and youth groups, as well as working in a team from a variety of cultures;
  • Experience in conducting analysis on behavioural psychology aspect of development issues;
  • Experience in project management and rolling out of large scale projects especially in hard to reach areas in developing countries is highly desirable;
  • Proven capacity to work with and lead collaborative teams across different locations and with different technical skills;
  • Proven ability to manage relationships with partners, including government ministries, youth coalitions, universities, intellectual leaders, UN organizations, NGOs and the private sector;
  • Familiarity with information systems and communication technologies is an asset;
  • Strong communication and collaboration skills with experience in consensus building and in motivating cross-functional teams to meet ambitious project goals and timelines;
  • Entrepreneurial, with a track record of delivery and impact in previous roles;
  • Direct experience supporting innovation processes and tasks
  • Strong research, organizational, and networking skills;
  • Interested in social entrepreneurship, ideas and innovation;
  • Creative flair and originality;
  • High level of motivation, ability to show initiative and work independently without much supervision;
  • Ability to work with a diverse set of partners to create problem specifications, system requirements, and implement innovations on a national scale;
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a multi-cultural environment and establish harmonious and effective working relationships, both within and outside the organization;
  • Ability to travel, occasionally to remote locations;
  • Integrate Gender dimensions to the project planning and implementation.

Required Skills and Experience

Recruitment Qualifications

Education & Experience:

  • Secondary Education with 7 years of experience in knowledge management, communications, research and/or project management; Candidates with Higher Education along with substantial coordination experience will be considered;
  • Bachelors’ degree in Behavioral Psychology, or any other field related to behavioral sciences with Two (02) years of progressively responsible professional work experience at the national and international levels.
  • Experience in the usage of computers and office software packages (MS Word, Excel etc.)
  • Language Requirement Strong oral and written communication skills in English, along with Sinhala and/or Tamil


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