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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Research Associate/ Research Assistant - The “Future of Boards” Business Project

Closing date:18 Sept 2022

Reporting to Project Director/Research Supervisor: (part-time or full-time, 3-9 months)

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) is a global community working to drive transformative change for people, nature, and climate. CISL is looking for both experienced and junior researchers to support a programme of research on the ‘Future of Boards’.  The work will be done in collaboration with a global law firm and will cover multiple jurisdictions. Depending on the level of experience and availability, successful candidate(s) will be contracted for  10 hours per week for 3-9 months subject to agreement with the Project Director.

The ’Future of Boards’ research project:

Boards are facing growing pressure and scrutiny by investors, regulators and markets as the businesses they lead face new disclosure requirements and performance expectations about how they manage social, climate and nature-related risks and their impact upon society. These changes, alongside evolving debates about the purpose of business and stakeholder capitalism, create an opportunity for a reappraisal of the role, structure membership and operations of the board.

The two-year programme seeks to bridge the gap between current practice and what may be needed in future, bringing increased insight and rigour to mapping barriers as well as to identifying the most promising solutions and enablers of progress. The work will combine a review of existing academic and practitioner research alongside consultations with board directors and key stakeholders in a range of jurisdictions via surveys and interviews.

The research focusses on the following areas: 1. Legal frameworks 2. Materiality, purpose strategy & governance indicators 3. Board membership, individuals, structure and dynamics 4. Stakeholder engagement (including investor interface).

The role:

The purpose of the role is to bring excellent research skills and capability to collect, analyse and interpret data from primary and secondary sources as part of a working team. The work and responsibilities of the post holders will be determined dependant on their experience and level of expertise.

Candidates should have a passion and knowledge of research within a business context, ideally around leadership and boards. Ideally, candidates should be experienced in desk research and compiling literature reviews. Candidates should have knowledge of qualitative methods (e.g. interviews or surveys) together with personal organisational skills and the ability to work independently. They should have excellent research, analysis and interpretation skills of qualitative data. Experience in using CAQDAS, such as NVivo, and Qualtrics alongside advanced user level on Microsoft office suite, especially excel, is desirable.  Strong communication skills both written and oral form are also required with experience in report writing desirable

Key responsibilities:


  • Conduct desk research to collate background information
  • Conduct literature and grey literature review to gather data
  • Prepare questions and materials for focus groups, interviews, and surveys
  • Coordinate and get involved in focus groups and interviews across multiple jurisdictions to collect/ code data
  • Apply standard research techniques and methodologies to the work
  • Analyse and interpret data to generate new thinking based on the findings
  • Write up research findings to communicate with the public on multiple platforms and contribute to the writing of research reports and publications.

Administration and planning

  • Coordinate, administer and plan the research deliverables and time allocation in line with the project plan and budget


  • Communicate and collaborate with internal and external parties to develop relationship that facilitate the success of the project.
  • Research and work to extend the reach of existing networks to ensure a robust data set is achieved across key areas.


The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) is seeking to contract researcher(s) at the level of Research Assistant or Research Associate (subject to candidate’s qualifications) to support research in the areas described above.

For an appointment at the level of Research Assistant (Grade 5), the researcher needs to have completed (at a minimum) an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, and a Masters degree with research methods would be an advantage.

For an appointment at the level of Research Associate (Grade 7) the researcher needs to be working towards a PhD degree in a relevant subject. Having completed a PhD would be an advantage.


The researcher will be contracted on a part-time basis, at a Grade 5 or 7 equivalent (dependant on experience) through the University of Cambridge Temporary Employment Services (£14.22/hour or £16.47/hour).  The role will be subject to some flexibility in line with the successful candidate’s availability, and the demands of the project.

Expressing your interest

If you are interested in this role, please send a cover letter explaining your interest in the subject and experience as a researcher together with a CV to The cover letter should state your availability and desired length of contract.

Closing date for expressions of interest Sunday, Sep 18th 2022  

We particularly encourage expressions of interest from researchers with diverse backgrounds.

If you have specific queries, please contact Gillian Secrett, Director of Leadership Programmes, directly at or

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