Research Manager, Social Networks

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), India

Skill Required:, Research and Analysis
Preferred Experience: 
2 years of relevant work experience
Closing Date for Applications: 
26th February, 2019

Job Description

J-PAL South Asia at the Institute for Financial Management and Research seeks qualified applicants for the position of Research Manager to manage our growing portfolio of projects across the country, covering the gender, education, skills building, and labor market sectors. The position offers a great opportunity for someone who is interested in a cross-section of different key development issues in India, to develop hands-on research management experience. The Research Manager will be expected to provide high-quality oversight of research design and data collection operations, and confidently lead discussions with government and non-government partners, in an organization undertaking cutting-edge development research.

Projects Description:

Social Networks Suite - These are a set of projects working on developing new methodologies to infer social network structures, examining how groups of individuals in a social network form beliefs and aggregate information, and understanding barriers to information diffusion within a network. The projects work on thematic areas such as financial inclusion, labor markets, and affirmative action. The results from these projects can then be used by policymakers to design efficient and cost-effective information campaigns.

Roles and Responsibilities:

Research Managers at J-PAL South Asia have an important and versatile role with respect to J-PAL’s core research function of running high-quality evaluations for our renowned affiliated professors. They function as facilitators of cutting-edge development research and are responsible for the strategic management of all aspects of a randomized evaluation and its subsequent use in informing decisions. This includes project management, financial and donor management, and people management. Research Managers at J-PAL South Asia also have a key leadership role in the organization: they are expected to represent the organization in any interaction or forum, internal or external. J-PAL South Asia prides itself in being very open to innovation and change and expects its Research Managers to be the innovators, conduits, and supporters of change. In turn, J-PAL South Asia provides the space and support for Research Managers to realize their ideas and those of their teams.

Principal Investigators

  • Dr. Arun Chandrasekhar (Stanford University)
  • Dr. Matthew Jackson (Stanford University)
  • Dr. Melanie Morten (Stanford University)
  • Dr. Emily Breza (Harvard University)
  • Dr. Benjamin Golub (Harvard University)
  • Dr. Matt Elliott (Cambridge University)

Project Management

  • Manage a portfolio of 4-5 active and on-going research projects by providing oversight and support to the project teams that comprise of Research Associates, Project Associates, and other field staff.
  • Assist with developing and refining the research design and objectives in close coordination with principal investigators and ensure alignment across all stakeholders (donors, implementing partners, research collaborators etc.).
  • Assist with the design of surveys and data collection activities accordingly.
  • Anticipate and flag any threats to the RCT study design to Principal Investigators (PIs) as required.
  • Plan and track activity timeline for smooth execution of the research design and goals, reporting along key indicators on project progress and identifying and taking corrective action as needed, in case of deviations
  • Work closely with the project team and support functions to ensure projects adhere to J-PAL policies and study procedures. Specifically, ensure adherence to J-PAL South Asia's guidelines on research compliance, data security and people's safety.
  • Apprise Principal Investigators on the progress of the project on a regular basis, and flag any risks to timeline in a timely manner.
  • Provide technical support to Research Associates in analyzing and cleaning primary and secondary data from surveys and administrative databases.
  • Actively and frequently liaise with governmental and non-governmental partners to update them on project progress and ensure that they are on-board with the RCT study design and the specifics of their role in the implementation of the program being evaluated.
  • Travel to project locations to work with the RA and project teams and provide direct oversight as needed
  • Apprise the Senior Research Manager, Associate Director (Research), and Associate Director (Finance) on the progress and development of the project. At times, work along with Associate Director (Policy) on policy outreach activities or new project development.

Financial and Donor Management

  • Work on budget assumptions for the new projects/activities and prepare quarterly projections to track the project spending.
  • Collaborate with the Finance team to provide inputs for accurate budgeting, and cash flow calculations.
  • Closely track the budget and the financial health of the project and ensure that all activities are well aligned with the budget. Flag any deviations to the PIs (and senior management, if required) in a timely manner.
  • Problem-solve with the PIs and the Finance team when deviations occur.
  • Look for potential funding sources for the project and assist the PIs in preparation of the technical proposal for grant applications.
  • Support the project team in preparing progress reports to the donors and funding agencies. Be the point person to communicate with the Grants Manager on any funding/grants related issue.

Mentoring and People Management

  • Help recruit for Research Associates, as needed. Oversee their hiring and onboarding in close coordination with HR and Administrative team.
  • Mentor the team of research associates in their personal and professional development; help maintain an adequate work-life balance, train associates to improve their technical and leadership skills.

Contributions to the Organization

  • Support J-PAL South Asia in creating and managing institutional knowledge. Provide additional support to streamline systems and processes and document and disseminate lessons and best practices followed
  • Take a proactive role in capacity development, training and delivering presentations as and when required.
  • Represent J-PAL in meetings and conferences and liaise with academics, officials, policymakers, donors and partner organizations.
  • Any other work as assigned by the Executive Director.

Professional Development

J-PAL South Asia is dedicated to providing opportunities for our Research Managers to continuously learn, develop and grow. As motivators and leaders in the organization, we strongly encourage Research Managers to develop a unique expertise - either a sector focus or a technical skill.

  • Learn: J-PAL South supports a culture of learning, with opportunities to attend and present at Brown Bag lunches at different offices, act as a Teaching Assistant at J-PAL South Asia external trainings, and follow a wide range of online courses (including the MITx MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Development Policy).
  • Engage: Research Managers have the opportunity to work with J-PAL South Asia affiliates and directors, engage with other J-PAL offices around the world, and also interact with policymakers and practitioners. We also encourage Research Managers to attend and speak at conferences and workshops, where possible and relevant.
  • Travel: Research Managers travel frequently to provide in-person support to Research Associates and partner entities, thereby maintaining a connection to the field, where all of the action happens.
  • Grow: J-PAL South Asia actively focuses on the professional development of its employees, and looks to improve the skills and knowledge of staff at all levels. J-PAL South Asia has developed an engaging online learning platform, where all staff members are expected to set learning and development goals, and track their progress.


For this particular position we are looking for candidates with the following qualifications:

  • Education: Master’s degree in economics, public policy/administration, or social sciences. Strong coursework in economics is highly preferable.
  • Technical skills: Demonstrating a good understanding of randomized evaluations and their usefulness for policy decisions. Knowledge of Stata is required; R or other data analysis software is an advantage
  • Experience: This position requires demonstrated management experience in a multi-faceted role, dealing with multitude of stakeholders. Experience working on projects in education and gender is a strong advantage.
  • Management: Proven ability to handle several different projects at one time, successfully complete tasks, and meet deadlines. Self-motivated, strong work ethic and an eagerness to learn are required for this position. Experience in managing teams and interacting with institutional partners strongly desired.
  • Stakeholders: Ability to present and negotiate with senior members and proven experience in managing high level partnerships.
  • Communication: Attention to detail and advanced writing and presentation skills for communicating with multiple partners. This requires clear, precise, non-technical writing, and creativity in presentation.
  • Attitude: Passionate about poverty-alleviation, policy, and the rigorous research that informs it. You value diversity and are self-motivated, work hard, and enjoy working in teams.

We are looking for a minimum commitment period of two years for this position with a strong possibility for a longer term position for exceptional candidates. The position would be based out of Bangalore with frequent travel to other states in India, depending on the exact portfolio decided on by the Associate Director or Research.


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