Seeking Research Assistant for work on spatial productivity


Research Assistant Position
The public sector and productivity: Governance at the right scale

Dr. Tamara Krawchenko, Assistant Professor, University of Victoria, School of Public Administration

Background and purpose
The purpose of this project is to develop a synthesis paper (based on review and analysis of academic literature and policy practice) from a regional perspective on the topic of “The public sector and productivity: Governing at the right scale” for the Organisation for economic Co-operation and Development, Paris. This work will be used to inform a high-level OECD-EC workshop, contributing to a 5-part series under the umbrella topic “Productivity policies for places” and focuses on regional aspects of productivity in the public sector.
Productivity is a main determinant of living standards. An explicit focus on the spatial dimension of productivity is needed in order to better understand recent productivity dynamics and to devise policy approaches able to boost the aggregate productivity growth and to decrease interregional inequalities. The public sector accounts for a sizeable share of economic activity in the OECD countries. For many years, however, productivity in the public sector was not a topic of academic and policy conversation partially due to the challenges involved in measuring public sector productivity. Yet, the variety of public services is expanding and the delivery increasingly relies on new technologies and management methods. The trend of decentralisation allows for tailored service provision, budgeting and other arrangements to local needs, potentially offering better “value for money” to residents.
Effective and holistic planning, the delivery of public services and the enforcement of laws and regulations affects productivity of firms and workers in regions and cities. Co-ordinated planning across levels of government, as well as horizontally where economic areas cover more than one subnational government plays an important role in facilitating access of workers to firms and vice versa. Especially in cities, co-ordinated solutions are important to combat agglomeration cost that limit the productivity-enhancing benefits from urban density. There are important knock-on effects from inefficient public service delivery. Delays due to cumbersome regulations, administrative procedures, or even lengthy court proceedings can adversely affect investment and entrepreneurial activity. Timely implementation of public works, monitoring and reporting requires more than the right framework but effective governance structures that ensure alignment of objectives and incentives across levels of government.
The paper will take the stock of the cutting-edge theoretical and empirical debates on this topic and combine them with policy examples for a synthesis that delineates how governance at the right scale can improve productivity of the public sector (but also of the private sector) in various types of places.

Responsibilities and expectations
Under the direction of Dr. Krawchenko, the research assistant will conduct a systematic review of academic literature and policy practice from across OECD countries and will contribute to the drafting of the paper and its subsequent revisions, as needed. The research assistant will be employed for 15 hours a week for approximately 20 weeks at a rate of $26.08/hour plus benefits. Anticipated start date, Oct. 19th, 2020 (flexible).

Skills and experience required

  • Graduate student (MA, MSc or PhD) in a relevant discipline such as Economics, Public Policy or Administration.
  • Familiarity with institutionalist literature on regional and urban governance and/or familiarity with economic concepts and ability to comprehend economic and policy literature are an asset.
  • Excellent research skills including knowledge and use of library databases and search functions.
  • Excellent drafting skills and ability to synthesize literature and policy documents concisely and methodically. 
  • Familiarity with Excel.
  • Familiarity with Mendeley referencing software, or willingness to learn.
  • Ability to manage multiple responsibilities and tasks effectively.

Please submit a CV and cover letter to Dr. Krawchenko at by October 16, 2020.