Governance Initiative

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Governance initiative

J-PAL’s Governance Initiative (GI) funds randomized evaluations of interventions designed to improve participation in the political and policy process, reduce corruption and leakages, and strengthen state capacity. GI's Spring 2020 call for proposals is now open, with a proposal deadline of 11:59pm ET on Friday, March 20, 2020. Funding decisions will be announced during the week of May 11.

By providing targeted funding for rigorous evaluations of the most promising programs to improve governance, GI aims to offer guidance for implementing organizations, governments, and donors, so that policies can be guided by scientific evidence to improve development outcomes.

GI has two regular funding cycles per year for full research projects, pilot studies, and travel/proposal development grants that address open questions outlined in the Governance Initiative Review Paper. RFPs are released in June and December, and funding decisions are announced in November and May. Each proposal is reviewed by three referees: an academic reviewer, a policy expert, and a member of the GI Review Board. The Review Board makes final funding decisions. J-PAL affiliates, J-PAL post-docs, and invited researchers are eligible to apply. PhD students, with support from an adviser who is a J-PAL affiliate or GI-invited researcher, are also eligible to apply for travel/proposal development grants and up to $50,000 for a pilot or full-scale study. 

GI also offers funding outside of the regular RFPs. These grants are intended for research projects that face a significant time constraint and need to receive funding before the end of a regular funding round to make use of an unanticipated opportunity (e.g. a newly announced policy change that will go into effect soon, creating an opportunity for a randomized evaluation). Proposals must clearly justify the need to receive a decision on an expedited schedule. The maximum amount awarded to off-cycle proposals is $50,000. 

Please email [email protected] with any questions.

Request for Proposals: Application Documents

GI RFP Overview - Spring 2020 

Full and Pilot Studies

Full and Pilot Proposal Application Form and Instructions Full and Pilot Study Budget Template 

Travel/Proposal Development Grants

Travel/Proposal Development Grant Application Form and Instructions | Travel/Proposal Development Grant Budget Template

Policy Outreach Support Grants

Policy Outreach Support Grant Application Form and Instructions | Policy Outreach Support Grant Budget Template

Governance Initiative Review Paper

The Governance Initiative Review Paper summarizes rigorous empirical evidence on governance issues in low-income countries and identifies new directions for research. The Review Paper has been revised in October 2019 to include a new section on improving state capacity, as well as new published and working papers released between 2013 and 2016 and research funded by GI up to 2019.

Governance Initiative Review Paper (October 2019 Version)  | Executive Summary 

In an effort to foster global collaboration between researchers working on governance topics, GI is now offering conference travel grants to support the participation of researchers from low and middle-income countries to attend leading economics international conferences.

For more information about this conference travel grant program, please review the below application materials. Please email [email protected] with any questions.

Conference Travel Grants: Application Documents

The 43rd Annual NBER Summer Institute - Development Economics Worksops – July 20-21 2020 in Cambridge, MA, USA - The Governance Initiative is supporting funding for up to two reserachers from low and middle-income countries to attend the NBER Summer Institute’s Workshops in Development Economics. Please note, however, that GI cannot guarantee admission to the program; ultimate admission to the conference will depend on availability constraints set by NBER.

43rd Annual NBER Summer Institute - Development Economics Workshops Travel Grant Application Form and Eligibility criteria


J-PAL affiliates Ben Olken (MIT) and Rohini Pande (Yale)

Review Board

J-PAL affiliates Oriana Bandiera (LSE), Frederico Finan (UC Berkeley), and Asim Khwaja (Harvard Kennedy School)


Support is provided by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) since 2011. In addition, DFID has approved a further £12m of UK Aid to increase its support for the Governance Initiative and also to fund new research in crime and violence (J-PAL’s Crime and Violence Initiative) and conflict (IPA’s Peace and Recovery Program). DFID and J-PAL are in the final stages of negotiating an agreement for this.

Funded projects

GI has funded over 100 projects to date.


Learn more about GI events held in GhanaIndiaIndonesia, and London.


If you have any questions related to J-PAL's Governance Initiative, please email Initiative Manager David Alzate.