Are these the key cultural factors that characterize the commercial shipping industry?

Posted by Luigi Fort, Senior Marketing Executive (Aviation and Human Factors)

Each industry has a set of characteristics that together make it unique and shape its culture. In his new book, Maritime Risk and Organizational Learning, Michael Ekow Manuel outlines what he perceives are the key cultural factors that characterize the shipping industry. Do you agree with his analysis?

Compare and contrast with other modes of transport or industries.

• Multicultural crewing.

• Distinct differences in team structure, for example, in rank, experience, age and nationality.

• The traditionally hierarchical nature of shipboard teams, blending civil structures with quasi-military norms and an emphasis on competence.

• The gender bias towards masculinity.

• The multitasking nature of the operations.

• The potentially harsh physical environment in which operations are carried out and the remoteness of other teams.

• Current trends (decreasing) in manning levels.

• High labour mobility due to contractual nature of employment.

• Limited social options acting as stress alleviator, exacerbated by extensive periods of contracts during which crew are away from significant shore-based social contact.

• Limited selection procedures for team compatibility as well as limited opportunities for team-based training.

• The not uncommon practice of salary differentiation based on nationality for the same rank/work.

‘This is a highly readable account for all those with an interest in safety and organisational behaviour, and it makes a significant and original contribution to the growing discipline of maritime human resource management.’
Mike Barnett, Warsash Maritime Academy, Southampton Solent University, UK

More about Maritime Risk and Organizational Learning

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