Job Details

  • Reference number: ID 519
  • Type of engagement:
  • Posted: February 6th
  • Remuneration package: The 2023 annual cost of employment including benefits is between R961 360 and R1, 131 011, depending on qualifications and experience.

Background to Position

Associate Director of Research

Requisition ID:  519

Department:  Faculty of Commerce

City:  Cape Town


(3-Year Fixed Term Contract; Payclass 12)

J-PAL Africa in the in the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit

School of Economics

Faculty of Commerce

J-PAL Africa seeks an Associate Director of Research to oversee and lead its research division, including its portfolio of research projects that test the impacts of a variety of social programmes in South Africa through randomised evaluations (also known as randomized control trials). This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the generation of scientific evidence about what works in the fight against poverty. The Associate Director of Research will build the capacity of young, talented research staff, and will get hands-on experience with real-world policymakers and their programmes – all while working at the frontier of academic research. 

The position holder should be a capable manager of field research projects, with excellent quantitative research and people management skills. The role involves overseeing the implementation of randomised evaluations in South Africa, ensuring that these studies are run to a high standard, including overseeing the hiring, training and management of the research staff who run or work on these evaluations, with direct management of management-level research staff. The position additionally involves growing the network of researchers engaging with J-PAL Africa, with a focus on African researchers; developing new research opportunities for J-PAL Africa researchers; and working closely with a range of stakeholders – notably PIs, policymakers and J-PAL staff from other divisions and regions – on research generation, implementation and dissemination, and on technical training.

The position will be based in the Cape Town or Johannesburg office of J-PAL Africa, the Africa regional office of J-PAL Global, which forms part of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) in the University of Cape Town’s School of Economics. Travel to other locations in South Africa will be required for fieldwork supervision, partner management, and work with J-PAL staff or other colleagues. The Abdul Latif Jameel Action Lab (J-PAL) aims to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL consists of a global network of academics who specialise in conducting randomised evaluations of social policies/programmes to generate this evidence. 

Job Description

Responsibilities include:

  • Set the vision and strategic direction for the research division at J-PAL Africa
  • Manage the research team
  • Hire, train, and supervise research manager(s) who are tasked with overseeing research projects
  • Develop plans for onboarding new staff
  • Support staff in individual goals
  • Oversee J-PAL Africa’s research projects
  • Directly support the work of research manager(s) in the management of projects, resources (budgets and people) and stakeholder relations. Indirectly support other research staff (research associates, interns, project associates and other field staff).
  • Ensure excellent standards are maintained in J-PAL Africa research work, particularly the J-PAL minimum must-dos and data quality procedures.
  • Plan and manage project budgets for the entire portfolio of impact evaluations at J-PAL Africa
  • Lead research project development between South African partners and J-PAL affiliated professors, and J-PAL Africa’s researcher engagement efforts.
  • Expand the network of researchers actively engaging with J-PAL Africa (e.g. running projects through the office), with a focus on African researchers and collaborations with African universities.
  • Identify potential researchers to work with J-PAL Africa, support them in identifying research opportunities (e.g. connection to prospective partners), study design as necessary and fundraising.
  • Explore funding opportunities.
  • Proactively seek out or respond to potential partners on specific research questions in collaboration with J-PAL Africa Policy team
  • Mentor J-PAL African Scholars throughout their projects on design, implementation, analysis, and paper writing. 

The 2023 annual cost of employment including benefits is between R961 360 and R1, 131 011, depending on qualifications and experience.

Inherent Criteria

Requirements for the position:

  • A Masters in Public Policy or Economics or another similar social science including graduate level courses in econometrics/ statistics, microeconomics and development economics. PHD strongly preferred
  • A minimum of seven years of relevant work experience
  • Demonstrable experience developing research projects (including research design and collaborating with a PI team) and successfully fundraising for these
  • Proven experience conducting field research in developing countries and experience conducting randomised evaluations
  • Proven demonstratable ability to conduct rigorous quantitative research
  • Proven experience in data cleaning, analysis or other programming conducted in Stata and/or R
  • Proven experience managing research projects
  • Demonstrable people management experience (including managing staff at multiple levels), ideally including managing a survey team in a developing country
  • Demonstrable experience in managing relationships with multiple stakeholders from different institutions or departments
  • Demonstrable experience writing and managing budgets
  • Proven ability to handle multiple diverse assignments at one time, successfully complete assigned tasks and meet deadlines while conducting high-quality work 

Application Requirement

To apply, please visit the UCT Internal Careers Site (For Internal Applicants) and UCT Careers site (For external Applicants) to create a profile and submit your application.

Please complete/attach the following to your profile before submitting your application:

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • A letter of motivation clearly addressing your qualifications for the various responsibilities listed above
  • Three referee names which must include their title and name, position details, relationship to you, their e-mail address and telephone number
  • Grade 12 certificate, academic transcripts, and university certificates

Shortlisted candidates may be required to undergo an assessment and references may be requested by UCT at any stage of the selection process.

Any inquiries for this position are to be addressed to Ms. Abigail Dixon at or 021 650 1673.

Closing Date:   19 February 2024          Website:

UCT is a designated employer and is committed to the pursuit of excellence, diversity and redress in achieving its equity targets in accordance with the Employment Equity Plan of the University and its Employment Equity goals and targets. Preference will be given to candidates from the under-represented designated groups. Our Employment Equity Policy is available at

UCT reserves the right not to appoint. 

About University of Cape Town

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is South Africa's oldest university, and is one of Africa's leading teaching and research institutions. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, a high school for boys. The College had a small tertiary-education facility that grew substantially after 1880, when the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north – and the resulting demand for skills in mining – gave it the financial boost it needed to grow. The College developed into a fully fledged university during the period 1880 to 1900, thanks to increased funding from private sources and the government.