Consultant - Governance Research and Learning - Washington DC

Policy & Advocacy Washington, District of Columbia



The Research and Learning team advances Mercy Corps’ ability to influence major debates and decisions affecting our work, and to deliver high impact programming by supporting the generation and use of high quality evidence. Our most compelling influencing efforts are underpinned by substantive research on issues where we have expertise and a credible voice, combined with targeted and sustained engagement of policy makers, donors, peer organizations and other leaders to achieve the changes we are seeking. The Research and Learning team has four critical functions:1) Generate robust research on issues of high policy relevance and that responds to critical questions about major programming strategies; 2) Communicate research findings and perspectives to influence key decisions and debates among external audiences; 3) Cultivate an organizational culture and practice of evidence-based thought leadership and programming by maximizing our learning internal from and use of research; and 4) Develop the partnerships and resource base needed to expand the scope, visibility, and influence of MC’s program research, impact evaluation, and influencing efforts.

Purpose / Project Description:

The Research and Learning team has developed a portfolio of research projects on topics related to governance managed by a Senior Researcher. This research seeks to respond to a number of timely policy-relevant questions including:

  • Does building government capacity to engage citizens result in improved legitimacy and government effectiveness? 
  • How does the sequencing of different types of governance programs and of governance programs with other sectoral interventions shape their overall effectiveness?  
  • What is the impact of civil-society training programs on the capacity and activities of local civil society organizations (CSOs)?
  • What is the impact of sustained, iterative mobilization on changing norms, networks, and behaviors related to citizen engagement with government?
  • How do in-person mobilization and digital technologies help to promote civic engagement and participation, both in general, and among excluded community members, including youth, women, and ethnic minorities? 

Current governance projects are focused on the Middle East, South East Asia, Central America, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Research projects are linked to Mercy Corps’ broader initiatives to influence development and humanitarian policy through research. Over the course of the next two and a half months, many of these projects will require additional support in order to come to completion during a 10 week period beginning in January 2020.

Consultant Objectives:

The Consultant will provide technical and managerial support on key research projects. She/he will work closely with research partners, the broader MC Research and Learning Team, and other teams to ensure continuation of projects underway and engage in new projects, as required.

  • Manage and support ongoing governance research projects
    • Liaise with country teams, research partners, and relevant internal MC teams to ensure effective execution of current studies.
    • Design or advise on methodology, data collection tools, and analysis plans
    • Write research reports, policy briefs, blog posts, and op-eds, as required
    • Possible travel to support implementation of surveys or qualitative data collection
    • Manage quantitative and qualitative data and conduct preliminary analyses
  • Pursue new research opportunities
    • Respond to calls for research concept notes and proposals on governance research, as required
    • Engage in fundraising meetings to mobilize resources for governance research in collaboration with the policy and advocacy team, or the corporate finance team, as required
  • Engage in broader agency and team initiatives, as needed
    • Collaborate with other team members on cross-cutting research projects
    • Support new and ongoing Research and Learning team initiatives

Consultant Deliverables:

Will be determined based on specific assignments, and will include:

  • Research plans, proposals, and/or concept notes
  • Datasets, analysis plans, and preliminary analyses for both quantitative and/or qualitative data
  • Reports, case studies, policy briefs, blog posts, op-eds and/or other products supporting dissemination for major studies
  • Representation at technical meetings and/or policy fora

Timeframe / Schedule:  January 6-March 20, 2020

The Consultant will report to:

Senior Director for Research and Learning, Mercy Corps

The Consultant will work closely with:

Other members of the Research and Learning Team, Policy and Advocacy Team, Technical Support Unit, Program Teams, and Academic Partners.


  • Master’s or PhD degree in political science, research methods, international affairs, or related field
  • At least 5 years of experience conducting and managing research, evaluation, or programming on governance
  • Highly organized
  • Familiarity with qualitative and quantitative research methods and software
  • Excellent writing ability
  • Proficiency in Arabic or Spanish a plus

Success Factors:

The ideal Consultant will be highly motivated and able to work effectively independently or with a team. Consultants should be articulate in both oral conversation and in writing.