Information Systems Management Research Associate

United Nations University

Maastricht, Netherlands

Experience: 3 to 5 Years

Skill Required: IT and ICT

The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge, furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. UNU’s mission is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its Member States.

For the past four decades, United Nations University (UNU) has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on human survival, conflict prevention, sustainable development and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 12 countries, UNU’s work spans the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.

The United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) 

The United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) is a research and training institute of the United Nations University (UNU) based in Maastricht in the south of the Netherlands, closely collaborating with Maastricht University (UM). Through its research agenda on ‘Comprehensive Innovation for Sustainable Development' (CI4SD), UNU-MERIT aims to generate new knowledge on the intricate nature and role of innovation in complex social-economic-technological settings, to translate this knowledge into new methods, tools, policies and governance structures, and to educate and train students, researchers and policymakers to assimilate, apply and implement these new insights. For more information on UNU-MERIT and our work, please visit

UNU-MERIT’s Computational Innovation Lab on Crises, Transformation and Sustainable Development

UNU-MERIT is in the process of establishing a Computational Innovation Lab as a new institutional expertise centre on data, AI and computational modelling to strengthen UNU-MERIT’s strategic agenda on comprehensive innovation for sustainable development (CI4SD). Drawing upon the research expertise of the institute, the Lab’s mission is to provide actionable data and computational models for research, education and policymaking on CI4SD. 

The Lab’s focus is on the contribution of data, AI and computational models to understand the impacts of significant disruptions such as crises and systemic shocks on ‘the green transformation’ and sustainable development. Such disruptions may be caused by conflict, natural disasters, health crises or major changes in technologies, institutions and markets. 

The green transformation aims to bring the economy within the limits of planetary boundaries while ensuring economic and societal progress for the current and future generations. In this context, research in the lab aims to contribute to our understanding of how transformative innovation can contribute to sustainable development goals while responding and adapting to crises and shocks, given diverse institutional and governance landscapes. 

For example, how do crises such as extreme climate events (floods and heat waves) impact socio-economic outcomes regarding distributional consequences and between countries and regions e.g., between the global north and south? How do the war in Ukraine and the green transformation affect labour market outcomes, e.g., what are the jobs and occupations that will accompany a green transformation that is resilient against shocks? How does the transformation of global production networks, arising from concerns about carbon footprints (or by protectionist policies in lead markets) affect suppliers in the Global South? How can transformative innovation initiatives mitigate the negative consequences? Can shocks and crises, while entailing short-term adaptation and action, also open unexpected opportunities for longer-term structural change (‘opportunity in crises’)? 

The Lab’s research agenda thus focuses on the complex interplay between major disruptions, systemic shocks, green transformation, and sustainable development. Research in the Computational Innovation Lab will have strong empirical grounding, using real-world data and case studies. The resulting data, information and models will be made available on a new data analysis platform, accessible to researchers within UNU-MERIT and globally.

Role Purpose: 

To build up the inaugural team for the Lab, we are looking for highly motivated candidates who are eager to co-develop and drive its ambitious data-and information-driven research agenda as Research Fellow (2 P-3 positions) or Research Associate (4 PSA positions).

The Information Systems Management Research Associate is expected to contribute to the Lab’s research program, a role that will include working under the supervision of the Lab's Research Fellows, supporting other junior researchers and PhD Fellows at UNU-MERIT, interacting with researchers from the two research units of UNU-MERIT, and actively contribute to funding acquisition efforts for the Lab's activities. The expected outputs of this work include research articles in high-impact journals, policy reports with partner institutions, stakeholder workshops, conferences, and high-level presentations to government officials. Candidates should be comfortable in actively engaging with practitioners and policy makers on real-world cases. This requires a strong motivation to understand the context of policy problems, and to work with various – often heterogeneous or incomplete – types of data at the micro, meso and macro level. The new Lab will be formally launched in Spring 2023. In the pre-launch phase of the Lab, the inaugural team of Computational Innovation Lab Research Fellows and Associates will co-create with UNU-MERIT staff a strategy for data analytics, information management and the data analysis platform addressing the complex challenges described above. This strategy process will identify and prioritize ideas and initial projects to maximize impact, visibility and partnerships for the institute.


Under the overall supervision of the Director of the institute, the Information Systems Management Research Associate undertakes research and outreach activities in support of the institute’s Strategic Plan. The Research Associate’s responsibilities include the following:

Support database and platform design

  • Organization of co-design workshops and elicitation of user requirements, including privacy and security
  • Support design of initial systems architecture and interfaces with internal and external systems

Platform & web design

  • Design of web user interfaces and programming of website and underlying software architecture
  • Design, implement and maintain features of the platform website using MySQL, CSS, HTML and other programming languages

Web management

  • Manage and continuously update content on the platform, provide overall quality control for the platform and ensure content is current
  • Document and ensure the quality of data for accuracy, consistency and comparability
  • Provide meta data to support analysis

Support data standards

  • Map out current data standards and available internal data sets
  • Support standardization of data collection, cleaning and verification activities across the institute to ensure interoperability and compliance to highest standards
  • Conduct secondary data reviews on existing data sets

Data stewardship

  • Provide advice to researchers of the institute on data collection, storage, sharing and interoperability
  • Support survey or assessment design to ensure data quality and interoperability; manage platforms and tools that support data collection, storage and analysis such as KoBo Toolbox and Open Data Kit (ODK).
  • Support coordination of data collection activities across the institute

Data partnerships

  • Support the development of partnerships with UN agencies and relevant organizations
  • Establish data pipelines from relevant platforms and collect and collate data
  • Support funding acquisition


  • Produce and update information products such as reports, charts and infographics by turning data into graphical products
  • Develop advocacy materials including posters, presentations and other visual material

Perform other tasks as assigned by supervisor

  • Key performance indicators
  • Timely and quality delivery of databases
  • Timely and quality delivery of websites and web user interfaces
  • Timely and quality delivery of other outputs (dissemination, organization of events, advice, etc.)
  • Timely and quality delivery of inputs to curated fundraising opportunities
  • Quality and level of engagement with other researchers, teams, consultants, and partners
  • Quality and level of engagement with partners, related networks and working groups


Education and certification:

  • An advanced university degree (Master's degree or equivalent, with a preference for a PhD) in information management, information systems, GIS, data analytics or related field.



  • A minimum of three (3) years of progressively responsible experience in information management, information systems, web management, data management, geographic information systems & mapping, or data visualization
  • Experience in web development, such as web user interface design, responsive design and UX, web programming skills, content management (WordPress, Drupal), software requirements, software architecture and software development fundamentals, multimedia content development. Familiarity with API integrations and reading/writing API documentation
  • Experience in outreach and training activities with students, researchers or policymakers
  • Demonstrated experience in conducting independent research and analysis
  • Good team player with strong interpersonal skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity
  • Professionalism, flexibility and ability to work to realistic deadlines, creative thinking, results driven, foreseeing risks and allowing for contingencies when planning


  • Experience working in multidisciplinary projects between data / innovation and sustainable development / climate change / humanitarian response
  • Knowledge and experience in addressing societal and policy challenges in the field of (humanitarian) crises, the green transformation or sustainable development
  • Experience in developing information products to communicate relevant insights to different (societal and policy) stakeholders in different formats (e.g., reports, websites or web-based applications)
  • Experience in supporting funding acquisition

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English
  • Knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset, as is knowledge of Dutch