Original Research

The probabilistic innovation theoretical framework

Chris W. Callaghan
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 20, No 1 | a1416 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v20i1.1416 | © 2017 Chris W. Callaghan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 June 2015 | Published: 31 July 2017

About the author(s)

Chris W. Callaghan, Department of Management and Human Resources Management, School of Economic and Business Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


Background: Despite technological advances that offer new opportunities for solving societal problems in real time, knowledge management theory development has largely not kept pace with these developments. This article seeks to offer useful insights into how more effective theory development in this area could be enabled.

Aim: This article suggests different streams of literature for inclusion into a theoretical framework for an emerging stream of research, termed ‘probabilistic innovation’, which seeks to develop a system of real-time research capability. The objective of this research is therefore to provide a synthesis of a range of diverse literatures, and to provide useful insights into how research enabled by crowdsourced research and development can potentially be used to address serious knowledge problems in real time.

Setting: This research suggests that knowledge management theory can provide an anchor for a new stream of research contributing to the development of real-time knowledge problem solving.

Methods: This conceptual article seeks to re-conceptualise the problem of real-time research and locate this knowledge problem in relation to a host of rapidly developing streams of literature. In doing so, a novel perspective of societal problem-solving is enabled.

Results: An analysis of theory and literature suggests that certain rapidly developing streams of literature might more effectively contribute to societally important real-time research problem solving if these steams are united under a theoretical framework with this goal as its explicit focus.

Conclusion: Although the goal of real-time research is as yet not attainable, research that contributes to its attainment may ultimately make an important contribution to society.


knowledge management; real time research; innovation; probabilistic innovation; crowdsourced R&D


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