Call for Research Proposals: Digitization and the Future of Work in the Global South


Deadline: 15 December 2018

As part of the Future of Work in the Global South (FoWiGS) initiative, Centro Latam Digital and IDRC are launching a call for research proposals that seeks to advance our understanding about the implications of digitization and labor automation for countries in the Global South.

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This call for research proposals seeks to advance our understanding about the implications of these changes in the nature of work for developing countries in the Global South, their growth trajectories and the broader goal of equitable development and gender inclusion. In particular, it seeks to address the following questions:

  • To what extent are jobs in developing countries susceptible to automation or relocation as a result of AI and new communication technologies? Are there fundamental differences with similar trends in advanced countries? What are the key data gaps that need to be filled to better understand these trends?
  • How can workers in developing countries develop the necessary skills to benefit from these transformations? Are there examples of successful initiatives that increase employability? What changes are required to school curricula or existing job training programs?
  • How are these changes likely to impact populations with inferior outcomes in traditional labor markets, such as women, ethnic minorities and the youth? Can these trends be oriented to mitigate discrimination and create more inclusive labor markets?
  • How are workers and small entrepreneurs in affected industries responding to these changes? What role are established institutions (such as labor unions and job training centers) playing?
  • How are governments responding to these changes? Are there examples of successful initiatives in key areas such as education reform, labor rights and social protection programs? Are there examples of initiatives that help preserve rights or smooth the transition for displaced workers? Are there examples from low and middle-income countries specifically targeted at gig workers?
  • How does the gig economy operate in countries with high levels of poverty and labor informality? Are informal workers and small-scale entrepreneurs reaping benefits from these changes, or are they exacerbating precarious labor conditions?
  • How are these changes affecting the patterns of geographic clusterization and regional job displacement in poor and middle-income countries? Are there successful cases of economic and urban renewal in areas affected by these trends? Are there any successful policy responses at the local, state and federal levels that promote new models of articulation with modern and, in particular, global value chains?

Funding Information

  • Research projects up to CAD 100,000 (Canadian dollars) will be considered.
  • The proposed budget should be strictly related to the project needs and should reflect the necessary resources for the collection of data or any other method of data acquisition and management.

Research Perspective and Methods

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Following the key research themes and questions outlined above, the call welcomes research proposals from a variety of disciplines and methodological perspectives. This includes (but is not limited to) impact evaluation research, surveys, ethnographic studies, action research, field experiments, and policy analysis. Proposals that include a comparative perspective across two or more countries are encouraged. Proposals should address issues of gender equality, youth employment or social inclusion for minority populations.

Researchers are encouraged to identify the practical implications of their research findings. This includes drawing policy recommendations and implications for development-oriented initiatives. For example: what are the key policy lessons that emerged from the findings? Are these lessons likely to be relevant in other contexts? How do the findings help inform initiatives aimed at facilitating a more equitable distribution of the benefits of AI and digital technologies?

Eligibility Criteria

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  • Applications can be submitted in English, French or Spanish.
  • Research consortia comprised of multiple partners may apply; however, one partner must be designated as the lead institution and recipient of funds. This institution should submit the application on behalf of the consortium.
  • Research proposals must be led by scholars based in the Global South. Researchers based in advanced countries may participate as partners.
  • Quality and composition of the research team will be an important evaluation criterion in the selection of proposals. They encourage teams with at least one researcher with expertise in gender-based analysis, as well as teams with a capacity-building component through the participation of young scholars.
  • Research projects are to be undertaken/led by a research-oriented institution with legal entity based in the Global South. Applications from individual persons will not be accepted. UN, donor, and multilateral organizations are not eligible to apply.

How to Apply

Applications should be submitted in Word or pdf format via email at the address given website.

For more information, please visit Call for Research Proposals.

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