Original Research

Antibiotic resistance and R&D failure: The need for near real-time disaster research

Chris W. Callaghan, Oren Dayan
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 12, No 1 | a795 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v12i1.795 | © 2020 Chris W. Callaghan, Oren Dayan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 November 2018 | Published: 12 March 2020

About the author(s)

Chris W. Callaghan, School of Economic and Business Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Oren Dayan, Milpark Business School, Milpark Education, Johannesburg, South Africa


Increasing antibiotic resistance across the world seems to reflect a failure of research and development (R&D) to keep pace with societally important disaster risks. This article uses the example of steadily increasing antibiotic resistance to question whether current R&D systems are able to timeously deal with certain societally important research problems. A review and discussion of new theoretical developments is offered, to suggest how novel technologies might be applied to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health-related disaster risk research. This article seeks to make a conceptual contribution through a critical review and synthesis of novel theory. Theoretical propositions are derived from conceptual analysis. Four key challenges are related to the derived propositions, to derive guidelines for how the disaster risk management process can be supplemented to improve its near real-time research capability. The theoretical propositions derived here relate to certain overarching challenges facing disaster risk research. The theoretical arguments made in this article seek to offer a heuristic perspective that may be useful to those seeking to apply novel technologies in disaster risk research to address societally important research problems such as antibiotic resistance. This research identifies evidence of the failure of the contemporary research system to solve problems like antibiotic resistance. On the basis of a synthesis of novel literature and theory, conclusions suggest certain useful avenues for the improvement of the research process. Urgency is recommended because of mounting societal costs of slow research responses to societal problems.


disaster; disaster risk research; antibiotic resistance; innovation; R&D; probabilistic innovation theory


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