SAHARA J : journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS Research Alliance 14(1) 53-63 doi 10.1080/17290376.2017.1375426
Knowledge management as a field is concerned with the management of knowledge, including the management of knowledge in research processes. Knowledge management theory has the potential to support research into problems such as HIV, antibiotic resistance and others, particularly in terms of aspects of scientific research related to the contribution of social science. To date, however, these challenges remain with us, and theoretical contributions that can complement natural science efforts to eradicate these problems are needed. This paper seeks to offer a theoretical contribution grounded in Kuhn’s paradigm theory of innovation, and in the argument by Lakatos that scientific research can be fundamentally non-innovative, which suggests that social science aspects of knowledge creation may hold the key to more effective biomedical innovation. Given the consequences of ongoing and emerging global crises, and the failure of knowledge systems of scientific research to solve such problems outright, this paper provides a review of theory and literature arguing for a new paradigm in scientific research, based on the development of global systems to maximise research collaborations. A global systems approach effectively includes social science theory development as an important complement to the natural sciences research process. Arguably, information technology and social media technology have developed to the point at which solutions to knowledge aggregation challenges can enable solutions to knowledge problems on a scale hitherto unimaginable. Expert and non-expert crowdsourced inputs can enable problem-solving through exponentially increasing problem-solving inputs, using the ‘crowd,’ thereby increasing collaborations dramatically. It is argued that these developments herald a new era of participatory research, or a democratisation of research, which offers new hope for solving global social problems. This paper seeks to contribute to this end, and to the recognition of the important role of social theory in the scientific research process.