Ideas for Transformation

First Call for Proposals for STEG Ideas for Transformation

Deadline: 13 September 2021, 23:59 GMT+1


Funding category

  • Ideas for Transformation

Submit now


STEG invites applications for the first round of STEG Ideas for Transformation.

Ideas for Transformation (I4Ts) are brief and largely non-technical essays (about 15 pages, double-spaced) utilising country-specific expertise to identify a specific policy distortion, market failure, or other similar opportunity to promote inclusive growth and development in a particular country or context. The idea would be to identify potential case studies that warrant further research. These might be specific and well-documented examples of a market failure or a policy problem – but ideally the cases should have broad relevance. For instance, an example of a local problem or issue will be more compelling if it can be taken as ‘typical’ of some broader set of cases. Successful applicants to the I4T call will receive funding of £1,000.

We are interested in I4T studies that address each of the following:

  • Use of simple methods (suggestive empirics or narratives) to demonstrate the existence, relevance, and importance of a policy issue involving structural transformation.
  • Suggest interesting candidate issues for high-level economic analysis or modelling using the tools of macro development. We hope for these essays to inspire further research (possibly collaborative, linking the authors of I4T submissions with other researchers or teams) that further evaluates the significance of the problem or opportunity that could assist in building the case for the proposed policy response.
  • Propose policies that have a measure of specificity (e.g. not merely “trade liberalisation” or “improved education”), although sizable enough to have importance to structural transformation (e.g., not small-scale bureaucratic changes). While the suggested policy need not be at a large scale, the proposal should explain how the proposed topic might be contribute to effects at the macro level. For instance, an essay might describe and quantify the impact of poor transport connections on a particular rural area of an African country. Perhaps transport problems lead farmers to produce low-value non-perishable crops rather than higher value crops that are highly perishable. This might be a problem that affects other rural areas, and so this is an example of a case study that might be interesting to understand in detail.

By contrast, we are less interested in case studies that show positive effects from an intervention that benefits specific recipients but might have a zero-sum (or near-zero-sum) aggregate impact. Thus, a training programme that benefits some entrepreneurs might not make a good I4T case study, unless it appears to be operating at a sufficient scale to change the overall productivity of an entire sector.

Case studies may relate to one or more of our research themes, however, we also welcome and encourage proposals that focus on other areas of structural transformation and economic growth in low-income countries. Policies that positively address our cross-cutting issues of gender, climate change and the environment, or inequality and inclusion are of particular interest.

How to Apply for an I4T

Applicants are asked to submit their proposal and CV(s) to the STEG Team at [email protected]. Applicants should use the following reference in the email subject: 'I4T Application_full name'. The proposal should be completed using the proposal template available at the bottom of this page.

The proposal should describe a specific opportunity for a policy (defined broadly, as an action taken by some set of actors, not necessarily in government) that will plausibly and feasibly deliver a substantial impact on economic growth and structural transformation.

Proposals should address five distinct sections, as described below, and should be submitted along with the CV for the individual(s) submitting the proposal. Guidance on proposal length can be found in the proposal template available at the bottom of this page.

A proposal should contain:

  1. Introduction: A description of the proposed opportunity to promote structural transformation and economic growth. In particular, this description should make clear the geographic, political, and historical context, to the extent that they are relevant. This section should include background information that will help the reader to understand the nature of the problem that is to be solved.
  2. Policy Context: What policies currently apply to this case? What is the history of efforts to change the policy? To what extent has previous literature addressed this problem, and what has been the evolution of policy (if relevant).
  3. Policy Impact: What is the likely significance and magnitude of a policy change in this instance? How many people are likely to be affected, and how much of a difference would this policy change make in their well-being?
  4. Plausibility, Feasibility and Implementation: To what extent are there plausible, feasible, and implementable solutions to the problem? Feasibility here refers to both technological possibility and institutional capability. Plausibility relates to the political and social acceptability of the solution. And for a solution to be implementable, there must be some set of actors with the capability and mandate to carry out the necessary steps. A good proposal should be able to identify the particular agencies, or institutions that would implement the needed changes.
  5. Limitations: What are the potential constraints and alternatives to the proposed policy solution? What might keep this solution from being implemented? Are there other solutions or competing ideas? What criticisms would you anticipate?

Eligibility and Timeline

I4Ts are designed to be contracted directly with individuals, rather than with institutions.

Given the importance of local country-specific knowledge, we especially encourage applications from researchers based in low- and middle-income countries, including those in universities, think tanks, government agencies, and other institutions. STEG takes a particular interest in broadening the set of researchers interested in structural transformation and economic growth; in that spirit, we also particularly welcome submissions from early-career researchers and from women.

We aim to issue funding decisions within two months of the deadline for receipt of proposals. An I4T is intended to be completed within 3 months. Please note that contracts should be signed within one month of the return of the final decision, which is also the expected project start date. 

Country and Policy Relevance

Please note that a necessary criterion for funding of proposals is the relevance to policy in at least one low-income country, with a special interest in sub-Saharan Africa.


The deadline has now been extended until 23:59 GMT+1, 13 September 2021. Applicants are asked to submit their proposals to the STEG team at [email protected]. Applicants should use the following reference in the email subject: 'I4T Application_full name'.

Related content

STEG Working Paper Series

Misallocation and Product Choice

Stepan Gordeev, Sudhir Singh • Research Theme 3: Agricultural Productivity and Sectoral Gaps
STEG Working Paper Series

Financing Costs and Development

Tiago Cavalcanti, Joseph P. Kaboski, Bruno Martins, Cezar Santos • Research Theme 0: Data, Measurement, and Conceptual Framing