Crime, violence, and a weak rule of law jointly present some of the most pressing issues for Latin America. They affect citizen behavior and relations at every level of society, so these shortcomings impose a significant cost on the economy and constitute a severe threat to economic development and political stability. This project seeks to explore how to design local police forces in Mexico (and Latin America more broadly) that can rise to the challenge of reducing violence, increasing institutional legitimacy and trust in institutions, and strengthening the rule of law. The project thus focuses on three sets of questions:
- The specific organizational capabilities and structural characteristics that are systematically proven to deliver better results (or questions of basic organizational design);
- The process and sequence through which these organizational capabilities should be incorporated into new or existing police organizations (or questions of organizational construction and change);
- How, given an organizational design, police organizations can build citizen engagement, participation, and trust through their protocols, practices, and interactions with citizens (or questions of the enactment of practices). This includes an understanding of how police organizations in Mexico should implement evidence-based interventions that have been proven to effectively reduce violence.
Overwhelming evidence has demonstrated that crime in general and violence in particular, is “concentrated in a small number of high-risk places, during high risk times, and generated by a small number of risky people” (Braga 2015). In support of this, it has been shown that the concentration of efforts towards a small number of places, people, and behaviors through evidence-based interventions can have substantial and long-lasting effects (in contrast, large-scale, comprehensive, or holistic programs have proven ineffective (Gravel et al. 2012 and Matjasko et al 2012)).
Under the academic leadership of Rodrigo Canales, Associate Professor at the Yale School of Management, and in collaboration with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), we aim to pilot and rigorously evaluate a ceasefire approach as described above in Mexico City, with the objective to measure its impact on homicide reduction, amongst other outcomes.
The objective is to proceed in two phases. The first phase will consist of a thorough pilot in which we carefully observe the development of crucial elements of the methodology and adapt it to the Mexican context, starting from a very clear mapping of the theory of change. After successfully piloting the program, the second phase will consist in the design and implementation of a randomized controlled trial, with the aim to measure the impact of focused deterrence strategies on crime reduction in general and homicide reduction more specifically. One of the biggest challenges is that these programs create important spillovers (diffusion versus displacement) which can lead to a contamination of the control group, which is why we suggest a multisite cluster randomization, where clusters of subject are randomly assigned to treatment and control groups.
The Senior Research Associate will work closely with academic researchers and other field staff to perform a variety of tasks including, but not limited to: designing survey questionnaires and evaluation methodologies, validating survey instruments, interviewing and training enumerators, managing survey teams, negotiating contracts with survey firms, checking and analyzing data, cleaning data and assisting in preliminary analysis, assisting in the writing of project reports and policy memos, and coordinating with key government and implementing partners.
- Develop, pilot, and validate survey instruments;
- Implement surveys, including hiring, training and monitoring survey teams; managing budgets, timelines, contract worker payroll, and procurement;
- Manage data entry and assist in data cleaning and analysis;
- Ensure adherence to data quality protocols, including auditing enumerators, monitoring data collection, and conducting data quality audits;
- Manage critical high-level relationships with Local Government authorities;
- Participate in meetings with key stakeholders and present research findings;
- Write reports detailing research findings and proposed interventions;
- Perform related duties as assigned by supervisor; and
- Maintain compliance with all company policies and procedures.
- A master’s degree in economics, development, social sciences, public policy, or related fields;
- At least two years of experience coordinating fieldwork, including management of survey teams and research;
- Experience developing survey instruments;
- Experience in quantitative and qualitative data analysis.
- Excellent management and organizational skills along with strong quantitative skills;
- Fluency in English and Spanish with strong communication skills;
- Proficiency in Stata
- Knowledge in other data analysis software such as R, SSPS or Python;
- Familiarity with randomized controlled trials.
- Demonstrated ability to manage enumerator teams and survey operations at different levels (programming and data flow, financial budgeting and reporting, human resources and team building);
- Flexible, self-motivated, empathic, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and team player;
- Demonstrated ability to manage high-level relationships with partner organizations.
- Experience working with Mexican police organizations or security issues (desirable)
Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application. After completing a brief registration, choose the Research job category, then select “Senior Research Associate, Project Ceasefire”. 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.
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.
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** Please note that only qualified applicants will be contacted by the hiring manager.