Research Scholar (Water and Risk and Resilience, Postdoc Level or Research Assistant -pre-PhD Level)

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Vienna, Austria
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


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The IIASA Water Program (WAT) seeks to incorporate water science into assessment and planning studies at the nexus of water, food, energy, and environmental security. Its aim is to establish a critical mass of water knowledge through development of new modeling tools and data collection. The IIASA Risk and Resilience Program (RISK) aims to better understand the risks to economic, ecological, and social systems arising from global change and to help transform the ways in which societies manage them.

The WAT and RISK Programs are jointly offering a full-time position as Research Scholar (Postdoc level) or Assistant (pre-PhD) to work on political economy analysis and stakeholder engagement in a project titled ''Scaling out resilient water and agricultural systems (scaleWAYS) in East Africa'' funded by the Austrian Development Agency. The selected candidate will be assigned the position of Research Scholar (postdoc) or Research Assistant (pre-PhD) and given responsibilities corresponding to their qualifications.

The Position:

The ScaleWAYS project sets out to scale up the potential of local and regional land and water management practices for the sustainable intensification of rainfed and irrigated agriculture in East Africa. This three-year transdisciplinary project will be undertaken as a partnership between IIASA, the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) and the Nairobi office of the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Local universities and centers of excellence in the LVBC member states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda) will join the project to carry out specific research activities. ScaleWAYS consists of four research and development components including i)  identification and scoping of pilot initiatives applicable in East Africa; ii) multi-dimensional up scaling simulations of selected pilot initiatives; iii) political economy analysis and stakeholder engagement; and iv) capacity development through the establishment of Community of Practice (CoP).

Main Tasks and Responsibilities:

The successful applicant will join a transdisciplinary team to provide scientific and project management expertise. They will be expected to:

  • Conduct a scoping study in East Africa (through field visits 10% and correspondence with local counterpart) of the history and current governance contexts (i.e. institutional, social, political economic aspects) surrounding selected pilot interventions in study area(s), identifying major stakeholders and relevant policies involved at different governance scales and survey existing evaluations regarding successes and failures of pilot interventions 
  • Collectively define, in collaboration with the project team, a stakeholder engagement strategy clarifying the joint aims, scopes, milestones for project implementation and implementing the plan accordingly 
  • In collaboration with the project team, lead the design of a framework and methodology guide on the analysis  of political economy, and social and gender which relate to agricultural water management and scaling-up of pilot interventions in the study areas
  • Carry out political economy analysis of selected pilot interventions, clarifying how decisions are made (and power is exercised) and what (dis)incentives stakeholders would face when deciding to take-up (or not) certain pilots and practices
  • Engage in policy and scientific outreach including, but not limited to, organization of stakeholder workshops, participation in CoP, and publish (co-authored papers) in high impact journals, and presentation of research results in international conferences.

In addition, the successful candidate is expected to participate actively in WAT/RISK program activities, supporting the fulfillment of respective program missions.

Required Skills and Qualifications:
  • A master's degree or a PhD degree awarded in the last five years in political science, geography, sociology, development studies, anthropology or other relevant disciplines
  • Specific knowledge and experience in at least one of the three areas i) stakeholder engagement methods (e.g. model-assisted decision support), ii) political economy analysis, and or iii) social and gender analysis is required
  • Excellent research, writing and communication skills
  • Intercultural sensitivity and the ability to work within a multicultural team as well as under own initiative
  • Experience in project management
  • Demonstrated experience and availability to carry out field work in a developing country context
  • Professional fluency in English (written and verbal).
Appointment Terms:

Duties will be carried out at the IIASA premises in Laxenburg, Austria however, the incumbent must be willing to travel for approximately 10% of their time to the study region, Lake Victoria.

The successful candidate should be available to take up the assignment at the latest by July 2019, and will be offered an initial employment contract for one year. Following review of the first year’s work, and with the agreement of both parties, the contract can be extended further. Potentially, the full appointment term could be for up to 30 months (or longer) with the current project expected to run until the end of 2021. 

We seek a motivated researcher who values team work, transdisciplinarity and diversity. The salary offered will be competitive and dependent upon educational background and demonstrated work experience. The appointment includes moving and settlement allowances, educational grants for children of school age, and five weeks’ annual vacation. IIASA offers both an exceptionally beautiful working environment as well as the intellectual excitement of an inter-disciplinary, international research organization.

IIASA salaries are exempt from taxation in the host country of Austria but subject to the principle of income aggregation.

IIASA is committed to a working environment that promotes equality, diversity, tolerance and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified candidates from all religious, ethnic and social backgrounds to apply. In the case that candidates are equally qualified, preference will be given to applicants who are nationals of IIASA member countries.


Please apply electronically by emailing a cover letter referencing vacancy # 10/2019, a curriculum vitae  or résumé, up to two recent examples of research work, and the names and addresses (including title, affiliation, e-mail, and telephone number) of two work-related reference givers to: 

Ms. Alia Harrison, Recruitment Coordinator, Human Resources Department,
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA),
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria

Please do not send or include a photograph. 

Deadline for receipt of applications: 15 March 2019 (review of applications will be begin immediately)