Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) seeks a qualified Senior Research Associate (SRA) based in Medellin, Colombia, to lead 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.

Understanding urban gangs is fascinating and indispensable if one wants to understand the determinants of effective state capacity in conflict societies. 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.

Leading this project will give the Senior Research Associate a unique opportunity to combine quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and work directly with the principal investigators. The team of principal investigators for the study is comprised of Chris Blattman (University of Chicago), Gustavo Duncan (Universidad Eafit in Medellín), Benjamin Lessing (University of Chicago), and Santiago Tobón (University of Chicago).

IPA is seeking a highly motivated and qualified individual with outstanding research, project management, and communication skills as Senior Research Associate, to lead this armed group governance project. The Senior Research Associate will take a lead role in designing, managing, and implementing different data gathering strategies, including: (i) semi-structured interviews, (ii) focus groups, and (iii) surveys. Similarly, the Senior Research Associate will be responsible for the processing and analysis of the data gathered as well as the writing of project reports and policy memos and managing communication and relationship with stakeholders (partners and donors).

The position requires excellent interpersonal and organizational skills. It also requires strong knowledge of both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Similarly, being familiar with the literature on crime, conflict, and state building is a strong plus. The SRA will be based out of Medellín but will work closely with the IPA team based in Bogotá. The ideal starting date is November 1st, 2018.

  • Overall research project management, data analysis and team management;
  • Designing, managing, and implementing different data gathering strategies, including: (i) semi-structured

interviews, (ii) focus groups, and (iii) surveys;

  • Ensuring data quality and relevance;
  • Hiring and managing field teams;
  • Processing and analyzing the data gathered;
  • Writing project reports and policy memos;
  • Managing communication and relationship with stakeholders (partners and donors);
  • Coordinating with the relevant government partners to ensure a timely execution of the project;
  • Keeping and ensuring a smooth communication with Principal Investigators;
  • Grant management and presentation of preliminary results to donors.
  • Bachelor’s degree (master’s degree preferred) in political science, economics, public policy or related field;
  • Experience managing a research project;
  • Experience conducting both qualitative and quantitative research;
  • Experience working/researching in crime, conflict, and state building is strongly preferred;
  • Mastery of impact evaluation methodology and applications;
  • Experience with Stata required;
  • Experience working in Latin American is a strong plus;
  • Strong written communication skills;
  • Excellent command of Spanish and English, both spoken and written;
  • Excellent management and organizational skills;
  • Demonstrated ability to coordinate work effectively over email and phone;
  • Demonstrated ability to manage relationships with stakeholders (principal investigators, partner organizations);
  • 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 “Senior Research Associate, Colombia”.  Most applications for research positions require you to include at minimum two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose (cover letter), CV, and transcripts.

Note that you are able to submit your application before your references complete their recommendation letters; however, you must include their contact information before submitting your application.

Given the volume of applications received, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.

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.