Research Lead - Busara Center for Behavioral Economics, Nairobi

  • Kenya
  • Master's
Start Date (Earliest):
Length of Commitment:
Three years or more

Who we are: We are an advisory and research organization focused on advancing and applying behavioral science in the Global South. We work with organizations to build behaviorally-informed solutions to help scale their products, programs, and policies. Our rigorous approach to experimentation has generated impact in a broad range of fields from financial inclusion to health and early childhood development.

At Busara, we use experimental research to improve our clients’ products and programs by better understanding their customers or beneficiaries, and to advance behavioral science and experimental research methodologies in the Global South through our academic research. We add value through our behavioral science expertise, techniques for data collection, analytics, and visualization. Our work uses decision science and data science tools to model complex human behavior.


We believe the future of behavioral science research, specifically experimental testing, lies in deploying tools and methodologies to make research easier and faster, without compromising on data quality. The costs and timelines of research are often prohibitive for a range of researchers and organizations, leading to both a shortfall in quality research in the Global South and the exclusion of certain groups from research. We also believe that the field of behavioral (and specifically development) research needs to be more cognizant of the communities that it researches, and improve ethical standards and the understanding of cross-cultural differences. 

This vertical focuses on the strategic roadmap for Busara’s research tools and methods through 1) internal development of tools and practices to ensure we are focused on efficiency and quality in experimental testing, 2) internal experimental testing of tools and methods to inform ‘research best-practices’ and to validate tools/methods, 3) external capacity building and tool up-take to enable organizations to conduct testing independently. The vertical further focuses on internally-driven research to advance i) ethical practices in development research, and ii) understanding of cross-cultural variation in behavioral and attitudinal patterns. These focuses are summarised here:

Primary Focus: Support product and tool development by managing, providing strategic direction on, and testing core research products. Generate data on product and methodological best practices through small-scale internal methodological studies.

Secondary Focus: Generate public knowledge and be at the frontier of research in the Global South through high quality self-directed research, with a focus on cross-cultural and ethical research.

We are looking for someone to lead this vertical.


Research Leads are key to setting and implementing the vision for methodological rigor at Busara and the vision for how our internal research can most support the fields of behavioral and development research. The portfolio they manage will set the standard for thought leadership in the research space and focus on addressing important research gaps and translating findings into Busara practices and external communications. Research Leads are expected to provide strategic direction and researcher support to the product development teams at Busara, managing these products and tools to ensure they best serve the research process, maintain standards of data quality, and meet researcher needs. Research Leads also contribute heavily to setting an internal research agenda in the areas of methodological, ethical and cross-cultural research and independently, and with the support of a team of research specialists, develop research questions and designs that support this agenda. Research Leads should be able to identify how and when to engage external stakeholders, and/or other divisions within Busara. Research Leads will manage our team of research specialists. Research Leads sit in the Research and Innovation Division at Busara and are expected to work hand-in-hand with the Head of Division and other Research Leads, and will report to the Head of the Research and Innovation Division.

*The Research Lead will have the option to be remote for the first 6 months contingent on COVID-19.

The Research Lead will have the following key responsibilities:

1. Lead the Research Methods and Innovation vertical

  • Set the agenda for Busara’s portfolios of product development, internal research and research tool creation.
  • Set quarterly vertical objectives in product development, internal research, and internal research tool creation.
  • Determine the priorities for product development, using “research value add” as a guiding principle.
  • Determine the most important areas for internal methodological research for improving Busara’s processes, by specifically reducing the cost and increasing the robustness of remote research methods. 
  • Determine the most important areas within ethical research practices and cross-cultural research to push forward.
  • Manage a team of research specialists and officers, their work portfolio, and their career and skills growth.
  • Manage the connection of PhD students who are interested in working with Busara to internal research projects.
  • Review outputs and track timelines of product development and internal research.

2. Set research agendas and help design internal experimental research projects.

  • Work with research specialists to set agendas for methodological, ethical, and cross-cultural research, and help ideate research questions and avenues of exploration and prioritization within these areas. 
  • Assist research specialists in the design of internal experiments in the above areas.
  • Design internal experimental research projects in the above areas, including generating research questions, experimental designs, pre-analysis plans, and in some cases developing research instruments. In some cases, Research Leads will directly manage such projects.
  • Ensure the translation of methodological and ethical research results and output into tool-kits, guidelines, thought pieces, conceptual pieces, and working papers, and manage their dissemination internally and externally.

3. Product development management

  • Manage the development of Busara’s key research products in partnership with the software development teams. This includes providing strategic direction and a view on researcher needs and priorities, with a mind to making tools easy and efficient and cost-effective, and that aid high-quality data.
  • Manage the roll-out of these products internally, to ensure that research teams can utilize these and that internal feedback on products is collated and delivered to the software development team to inform fixes and new feature development. 
  • Manage the rollout of these products to external parties.

4. General duties

  • Ensure research specialists provide ‘office hours support’ to other teams for technical research questions.
  • Review projects division research outputs (pre-analysis plans, experimental designs, analysis outputs etc.) on a piecemeal basis to ensure technical quality.
  • Support Busara training on an ad-hoc basis, specifically in experimental design.
  • Assist with the development of internal documents to support Labs’ Division operations.


  • A Master’s degree in Economics, Public Policy, Social Sciences, or related fields.
  • Strong knowledge of the experimental social science literature (economics, political science, psychology)
  • Experience designing lab and/or field experiments
  • Strong analytical and writing skills
  • 3+ years previous work experience in a related field
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently and a team player.
  • ‘Research mindset’ - the ability to look at a body of knowledge and identify gaps and priority areas for future exploration. 
  • Interest and experience working in a fast-paced working environment.
  • Excellent communication and writing skills, with fluency in English.

And preferably

  • Previous experience conducting research in developing countries.
  • Experience creating broad research agendas.
  • Experience working in the development of ‘systems’ within research organizations.
  • Extensive experience in the management of data collection in developing countries.
  • Experience designing methodological or research tool-based research.
  • A PhD in Economics, Public Policy, Social Sciences, or related fields.
  • Strong skills in econometrics and programming (STATA, Python, R, Matlab)
  • Familiarity with and interest in behavioral economics or science
  • Experience managing or mentoring staff

At Busara we embed behavioral science into everything we do, including the hiring process. In an effort to de-bias ourselves from what we know can cause systematic hiring discrimination, we do as many things as possible blindly and objectively. For you, that means you have to fill out the questions on the application as well as upload your CV. I know, this is infuriating, but it's not because we're lazy -- it's because we are going to blindly review candidates based on the answers to your questions as well as their education and experience, and consider full CVs in future stages of the process. Thus, it's very important for you to fill out the questions completely, without mention of your name or any other potentially biasing information about yourself.