Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) seeks a qualified Research Associate based in Medellin, Colombia, to support a research project which seeks to understand armed group governance, the market structure of urban gangs, and how, if possible, to transition from armed groups to state rule with non-violent strategies. Urban organized crime is becoming the primary source of insecurity and obstacle to state-building of the 21st century. It is already possibly the most important issue in Latin America. It may come to be the most important issue in major cities in India, China, and parts of Africa and the Middle East, where armed groups are raising in slum areas and organized crime is generally under studied. Medellin provides a unique opportunity to study different urban armed groups in a controlled setting.

If one wants to understand the determinants of effective state capacity in conflict societies understanding urban gangs is indispensable. More importantly, understanding these diverse organizations is a necessary step to designing effective interventions to promote freedom and security for citizens. The lessons and guidance from Colombia will provide a window into armed group operations and counter-strategy worldwide. The research associate will work closely with the research team, principal investigators, and government partners. The team of principal investigators for the study is comprised of Chris Blattman (University of Chicago), Gustavo Duncan (Universidad Eafit), Benjamin Lessing (University of Chicago), and Santiago Tobón (Universidad EAFIT).

The position requires excellent interpersonal and organizational skills. It also requires knowledge of both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Good written and reading abilities in Spanish and English are required. Similarly, being familiar with the literature on crime, conflict, and state building is a strong plus. The Research Associate will be based out of Medellin.

  • Managing relationships with partners and helping to set up/monitor field experiments;
  • Putting in place appropriate data collection mechanisms, including: i) semi-structured qualitative interviews, (ii) focus group and (iii) surveys;
  • Supporting quantitative and qualitative data analysis;
  • Monitoring fieldwork implementation;
  • Ensuring adherence to data quality protocol;
  • Working with the PIs, IPA staff in Colombia and in the United States to analyze the data and interpret the findings;
  • Writing progress reports and policy memos in both English and Spanish
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in Spanish and English, including ability to effectively communicate with internal and external customers;
  • Excellent computer proficiency (Google Docs, MS Office – Word and Excel);
  • Strong data analysis skills (Stata, R and GIS strongly preferred);
  • Capability to manage multiple tasks efficiently;
  • Experience in randomized controlled trials;
  • Must be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines, while maintaining a positive attitude and providing exemplary customer service;
  • Ability to work independently and to carry out assignments to completion within parameters of instructions given, prescribed routines, and standard accepted practices;
  • Undergraduate or master’s degree in social science required;
  • Knowledge of both qualitative and quantitative research; 
  • Experience working in Latin American is a strong plus;
  • Flexible, self-motivating and team player
Application Instructions 

Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application. After completing a brief registration, choose the Research job category, then select “Research Associate, Colombia”. Most applications require you to include two letters of recommendation, statement of purpose (cover letter), CV, and transcripts. 

About IPA 

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a research and policy nonprofit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor. In recent decades, trillions of dollars have been spent on programs designed to reduce global poverty, but clear evidence on which programs succeed is rare, and when evidence does exist, decision-makers often do not know about it. IPA exists to bring together leading researchers and these decision-makers to ensure that the evidence we create leads to tangible impact on the world. Since its founding in 2002, IPA has worked with over 575 leading academics to conduct over 650 evaluations in 51 countries. This research has informed hundreds of successful programs that now impact millions of individuals worldwide. 


Innovations for Poverty Action is an EO Employer-MF/Veteran/Disability. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other protected class. IPA will endeavor to make a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant with a disability unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of our business. If you believe you require such assistance to complete this form or to participate in an interview, please contact us at or via phone at 1-203-772-2216. Disclaimer: The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of the work to be performed by the specified position. The statements are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all possible duties, tasks, and responsibilities. Management reserves the right to amend and change responsibilities to meet organizational needs as necessary. Please note that IPA will never request any form of payment from an applicant. Applicants are encouraged to confirm the information listed above with IPA prior to releasing any extensive personal information to the organization. Please direct questions to

** Please note that only qualified applicants will be contacted by the hiring manager.