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This is a full-time 3-year contract

Closing date for applications:  6 June 2022

The Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) is seeking to appoint a SENIOR RESEARCHER to support a multi-year and multi-partner project on local government in South Africa. The candidate must have solid sector experience and / or subject matter expertise in one or more of the following: local government, public participation, development planning.

The programme seeks to enhance accountability in South Africa by supporting public participation and planning at the local government level. The objective of the programme is to determine the status quo of public participation through action research at selected municipalities, determine models for innovative interaction between the state and residents, influence improved planning at municipalities and determine models of sustainability through improved public engagement. The project will be implemented in 12 participating municipal sites over four years, as well as seeking to support the work of national policy setting institutions. This is an exciting and innovative project which aims to experiment with new ways to enhance local government functioning.

Therefore, candidates with experience in ethnographic and participatory research methods are especially encouraged to apply.

The Senior Researcher will be responsible for the implementation of the Action Research phase, which aims to understand the current state of public participation in municipalities, and to engage residents and officials towards seeking improved ways to conduct participation in development planning.

The responsibility includes research planning and method development, i.e., to develop appropriate approaches and methods for research on the programme; refine concepts and definitions of key concepts used in the programme (such as public participation, democracy, community, planning and so forth); develop appropriate benchmarking and indicator outcomes; scope and plan the research (mapping areas targeted for fieldwork or other analysis, mapping stakeholders to be interviewed, method of data collection), and developing appropriate research planning documents such as research inception reports and research protocols; and conducting literature scans on relevant topics of research. It will also include preparing for field work/data collection by negotiating access to institutions for data collection; set up interviews with stakeholders with the support of the researcher and programme coordinator; develop research tools for data collection; collect data through individual interviews, focus group sessions, document review, or any other methods determined by the research plans. Undertake data analysis, develop research reports and other related outputs (short briefs, summary presentations, and so forth) and draft recommendations, in consultation with the programme team and as per the aims and objectives of the programme. Also, to provide guidance to the research team on the research needs of the programme and to ensure collaborative input of research team, among other.

The candidate will be based in Johannesburg, and where much travel to participating municipal sites situated in six provinces outside of Gauteng is anticipated.

Applicants should have:

  • A Master’s degree in sociology, anthropology, political studies, planning or related fields.
  • Sector experience or subject matter expertise in one or more of the following: local government, public participation, development planning.
  • At least ten years of experience in undertaking research projects, and at least five of these at a senior level.
  • Experience in local government is a strong advantage.
  • Proven track record of experience in qualitative research, and experience in undertaking basic quantitative data analysis.
  • Experience in working with multi-stakeholder projects.
  • Familiarity / experience with reporting procedures to donors/clients/stakeholders to ensure compliance with internal governance and controls and external reporting requirements.
  • Ability to support stakeholder management through appropriate communication.
  • Excellent writing and analytical skills.
  • Good communication, interpersonal and listening skills.
  • Ability to work in a multi-disciplinary context.
  • Ability to use information and communication technology as an appropriate tool for project administration and coordination.
  • Strong MS-Office computer skills including data capture.
  • Ability and will to drive and has a driver’s license. The applicant should be able to provide proof of having been vaccinated against COVID19.

Interested applicants should send a cover letter outlining their suitability for the job and an approximately 4-page CV to Jessie Turton at  by close of business on the 6 June 2022.

The CV which should include:

  • Basic biographic details
  • The applicant’s educational qualifications.
  • Their employment history.
  • Applicants should list the kinds of programmes or projects they have supported, and what function/role they have played.
  • Last, please include 3 references with contact details and a note outlining the relationship of the referee to the applicant (e.g., previous employer, or client). At least one of these references should be able to vouch for work the applicant has undertaken in the last two years.

Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

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