Mercy Corps is powered by the belief that a better world is possible. To do this, we know our teams do their best work when they are diverse and every team member feels that they belong. We welcome diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be stronger and have long term impact.
The Program / Department / Team
Mercy Corps is committed to generating and using evidence to understand and improve our impact, and to enhance the humanitarian and development community’s ability to address the world’s most complex challenges. The Research and Learning team advances Mercy Corps’ commitment to produce and use evidence to improve our impact, scale what works, and influence others. We know that our external influence and internal learning are most effective when underpinned by substantive research on issues where we have expertise and a credible voice.
Mercy Corps 10-year strategy– the Pathway to Possibility– focuses our efforts on addressing the conflict and climate change as drivers of fragility, and partnering with communities, local NGOs, governments, and the private sector to move from crisis to opportunity. As a key part of achieving this, we have prioritized strengthening economic opportunities to enable crisis-affected communities to grow and sustain their assets and income.
Mercy Corps is seeking to expand our evidence and learning on what works to enhance economic opportunities in fragile and conflict affected contexts. To date, Mercy Corps has developed a global evidence and learning agenda on economic opportunties, outlining priority research themes and questions that address evidence gaps and align with our programming and advocacy work on economic opportunity issues. Mercy Corps requires a Research Lead for the organization’s research and evidence efforts on our economic opportunities outcome.
The Research Lead will provide direction to Mercy Corps’ research and learning on economic opportunities, which includes a number of technical areas including cash, Market Systems Development (MSD), agriculture, youth employment and financial inclusion. They will be responsible for advancing Mercy Corps’ growing research agenda, partnerships, and portfolio on economic opportunities issues. The position engages strategically across the organization and externally to develop and drive research that is responsive to the major policy debates and knowledge gaps around program theories and practice.
A key element of this role is mobilizing the organization’s internal expertise, analysis, and research to drive program impact, identify scalable solutions, and influence external priorities and decisions. To this end, the Research Lead works closely with Mercy Corps’ Policy and Advocacy team, and collaborates with Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit, Media and Communications, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Crisis Analytics teams. In addition, they work closely with program and country and regional teams to identify relevant questions, ensure that evidence is being used in improving program strategies, and that new programs are designed to generate evidence for further learning and influence.
The role will involve developing and managing original research products, in consultation with members from other teams. They will lead research and drafting of major long papers, shorter reports and quick-turn around analytical pieces. The Research Lead will contribute to new research grant opportunities and partnerships, to help expand the scope and impact of our research and influence around economic opportunities.
The position serves as a public thought leader, engaging externally with government, think tank, academic and institutional partners, to advance our evidence and analysis on economic opportunity issues. The Research Lead dedicates time to raising the profile of Mercy Corps’ research and evidence by giving high profile talks, participating in panels and research networks, and attending key external forums, as well as cultivating and deepening relationships with donors, policy makers, academics, and other evidence consumers. The position writes timely analysis, thought pieces, and other products, which maximize the impact of and learnings from Mercy Corps research.
Research and Learning Team Leadership and Management
- Co-lead Research and Learning team strategy development to develop/refine priorities, oversee work planning, resource allocation, implementation, and adaptive management.
- Represent the team on strategic internal and external initiatives, working groups, and fora related to advancing research and evidence in the humanitarian and development fields.
- Contribute to team communications in research and evidence to promote more effective and efficient coordination within and across the organization, including to executives and other senior leaders.
- Regularly contribute to new research proposal development and technical advising to country and program teams, advising on partnerships, and reviewing and input to major research designs, analysis, and written products.
- Supervise researchers or project coordinators, including providing them strategic direction in line with the broader research strategy, operational support, performance reviews, and mentoring/coaching.
- Manage and recommend use of discretionary research funds towards filling high priority opportunities needed to advance the economic opportunities evidence and learning agenda.
- Contribute to a team and organizational culture of curiosity, experimentation, collaboration, and learning to improve our capacity to produce and use rigorous, ethical, actionable research. Evidence Generation
- Lead the implementation of the global research agenda on economic opportunities, in collaboration with Mercy Corps technical, policy, and program teams, as well as key academic and think tank partners.
- Collaboratively identify, design, and lead research opportunities that respond to our priority topics and questions on economic opportunities, and that connect to Mercy Corps’ programming.
- Manage and coordinate the work of external researchers, co-authors, data analysts, research assistants, and other consultants to execute and communicate studies on economic opportunities.
- Lead or co-author program and policy-relevant research products, including technical reports, white papers, policy briefs, commentary pieces, op-eds, and other products tailored to key audiences. Partnership and Resource Development
- Promote Mercy Corps as a respected generator and consumer of research, as an organization that implements evidence based programming, and as the go to organization for conducting credible and actionable research on economic opportunities in fragile contexts.
- Act as leading external voice in contributing to and influencing policy and practice on economic opportunities issues based on our research and learning, including representation at key external program and policy forums.
- Develop and advance partnerships with think tanks, academics, and other research entities that improve the credibility and reach of our studies, and strengthen relationships with and engagement of local research partners where Mercy Corps operates.
- Establish and maintain strategic relationships with key consumers and users of our evidence, including peer NGOs, think tanks, and government officials.
- Cultivate / strengthen relationships with foundations and institutional donors, and identify and lead the development of grant proposals to grow the resource base for our economic opportunities research portfolio. Representation and promotion of evidence use
- Ensure research findings translate into appropriate external products to support evidence-based influencing activities, including drafting of policy-related talking points, policy briefs, and key messages to use in external engagements.·
- Act as leading external voice in contributing to and influencing policy and practice on economic opportunity issues based on Mercy Corps’ research and learning.
- Promote awareness and uptake of research through publishing in widely-read outlets, participating and presenting in high-profile forums, and leveraging connections with technical experts, policy makers and thought leaders.
- Actively translate and promote awareness and use of research and evidence to inform organization-wide strategies and priorities related to programming and policy advocacy on economic opportunities. Supervisory Responsibility
Consultants, research partners, researchers, research assistants, and interns as required.
Reports Directly To: Senior Director, Research and Learning
Works Directly With: Senior Director for Economic Opportunities, Other Research and Learning Team members, Policy and Advocacy team, Regional and Country Teams, relevant Technical Support Unit team members, Media and Communications Team, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Crisis Analytics team.
Accountability to Participants and Stakeholders
Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our program participants, community partners, other stakeholders, and to international standards guiding international relief and development work. We are committed to actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our programs and research.
Minimum Qualifications & Transferable Skills
The ideal candidate will possess many, though perhaps not all, of the following qualifications and characteristics:
- Ph.D in Development Economics, other relevant discipline with minimum 5 years applied research experience or a Master’s degree with over 10 years of research, evaluation, or analysis experience in international humanitarian and development programs.
- Experience conducting independent research, analysis and publishing on economic opportunities or related topics in fragile contexts.
- Expertise in at least one core technical area related to economic opportunities, such as sectoral cash, Market Systems Development (MSD), agriculture, youth employment and financial inclusion.
- Knowledge of the rigorous and innovative methods in the field of applied research and impact evaluation of humanitarian and development programs, with a focus on economic development and recovery issues
- Excellent leadership, management and team building skills that include the ability to mentor and coach peers within the team and across teams
- Excellent analytical skills that include both an attention to detail and an ability to grasp complex theories and conceptual frameworks
- Demonstrated representation and communication skills, including demonstrated ability to convey research findings and their implications to multiple audiences, including senior policy makers, practitioners and academics
- Strong networks, relationships, and profile with major external actors, including policy and academic audiences
- Intimate understanding of major policy issues, program theories, and academic discourse on economic development and recovery approaches in fragile contexts
- Willingness and ability to travel frequently to Mercy Corps project sites, including traveling to insecure environments, is required
- Familiarity with major donors such as USAID, FCDO, and relevant foundations and corporations
- Fluency in English is required; French, Spanish, or another second language strongly preferredSuccess Factors
The Research Lead must have strong leadership, teamwork, and communication skills, be familiar with a range of research methods, have strong networks with academic and policy audiences in economic development and related fields (e.g. economic recovery, market systems development, cash programming), and have a demonstrated ability to link research findings to policy debates and program theories and approaches. The successful candidate will be a self-starter, demonstrating leadership in leading setting and managing strategy, partnership development, team management, and external communications. They will show passion for the role that INGOs can play in using evidence to influence policy and practice. They will demonstrate flexibility in a non-hierarchical environment and an outstanding ability to communicate effectively with team members of varied work styles, follow procedures, and meet deadlines. They enjoy external collaborations, working with and coauthoring publications in order to elevate Mercy Corps’ influence. S/he will have experience in influencing different stakeholders and building solid working relationships with other teams, departments and at all levels of an organization. They are multi-tasker with the proven ability to organize and prioritize competing priorities and demonstrated flexibility and creativity in planning and problem solving. They have the proven ability to learn quickly, take initiative, be accountable for results and understand the larger picture while remaining focused on the details. The individual must have high proficiency for working in varied cultural, political, and religious environments, and must be able to travel and work successfully in austere environments and maintain poise in stressful situations.
Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions
The position can be based in any Mercy Corps HQ or regional office, or remotely from their home base. The role requires up to 30% travel to support research planning, production, and communication. Mercy Corps team members represent the organization both during and outside work hours when deployed in a country office or on a visit/TDY to a country office.. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.
In support of our belief that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities we serve, we empower all team members to dedicate 5% of their time to learning activities that further their personal and/or professional growth and development
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.
We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.
Equal Employment Opportunity
Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact.
We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.
Safeguarding & Ethics
Mercy Corps is committed to ensuring that all individuals we come into contact with through our work, whether team members, community members, program participants or others, are treated with respect and dignity. We are committed to the core principles regarding prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse laid out by the UN Secretary General and IASC and have signed on to the Interagency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme. We will not tolerate child abuse, sexual exploitation, abuse, or harassment by or of our team members. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, respect local laws and customs, and to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct Policies and values at all times. Team members are required to complete mandatory Code of Conduct elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.
As a safeguarding measure, Mercy Corps screens all potential US-Based employees. This is done following the conclusion of recruitment and prior to assuming full employment.
Our screening process is designed to be transparent and completed in partnership with new Team Members. You will have the opportunity to disclose any prior convictions at the conclusion of the recruitment process before the check is initiated. We ask that you do not disclose any prior convictions in your application materials or during the recruitment process.