University of Tasmania
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The organisational culture of a ship : a description and some possible effects it has on accidents and lessons for seafaring leadership

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posted on 2023-05-26, 07:48 authored by Shea, IP
This study was intended to further the understanding of organisational culture and climate on board a ship, it also explored the linkages that these two broad areas had with marine accidents. The study was designed to represent, as broadly as possible, the views of seafarers all around the world. An extensive literature search of databases in the maritime, education and other cognate fields, revealed only two other studies that dealt with some of the issues examined by this study. The study also examined literature dealing with investigations into maritime accidents, as many of the causal factors identified by these investigations assisted the study in its examination of the organisational culture and climate of a ship. This study addresses three key questions: What is the nature of the organisational culture aboard a ship? What is the nature of the organisational climate aboard a ship? and, Are there any aspects of organisational culture and climate that impact on the safety culture of a ship? This thesis therefore contains descriptions of the organisational culture and climate aboard ships, to facilitate a better understanding of the environment within which ships operate. In examining these two areas this study focussed mainly upon the safety culture and climate of a ship, as the span of each of the earlier described areas was large and covered many issues. This study used a research approach that combined elements of quantitative and qualitative methods. This mixed-mode was deemed the way to proceed as the researcher wished to utilise data gathering approaches that have been used in both broad research approaches, i.e., a questionnaire, metaphorical analysis, and document analysis. This mixed mode approach allowed the investigation of issues within a bounded system, but where the participants were widely dispersed and not readily accessible for extended face-to-face data gathering. The study utilised three instruments for data gathering, which generated three datasets. These datasets provided the basis on which the statistical analysis was conducted. The three instruments used in the survey were the 'Maritime Culture Questionnaire' (MCQ), 'Assumptions through Metaphor' (AtM) Questionnaire and the 'Maritime Climate Questionnaire' (MClQ). The total number of seafarers who participated in the instrument survey was over 700 persons and like most surveys of this kind there was a slight variation in the number of respondents for each instrument. Analysis of the datasets enabled the organisational culture aboard ship to be described comprehensively. This analysis demonstrated that Heads of Departments (HODs) and seafarers displayed either one of two distinct behavioural characteristics when they worked aboard ship. The first characteristic behaviour was the 'HOD Collegial Behaviour' type, here the HOD would be positive and demonstrably supportive toward subordinates. The other characteristic behaviour was the 'HOD Formalistic Behaviour' type, when displaying this type of behaviour the HOD showed indifference toward subordinates and their activities. When a HOD displayed this latter behaviour, respondents indicated that it had a negative impact on the safety climate of a ship. The addition of outcome variables to the MCQ instrument permitted linkages to be made between the organisational culture aboard ships and marine accidents. Similarly an analysis of the third dataset enabled the development of a description of the organisational climate of a ship. This examination of the organisational climate of a ship identified situations when seafarers were likely to display the described behavioural characteristics. The study also found that it is possible that these negative behaviours were displayed more often than the positive ones. The findings of this study make recommendations that will assist in improving the safety climate on board ships. This study makes recommendations that have relevance to personnel managers of shipping companies or ship-management companies, maritime regulatory authorities, maritime educators and Heads of Departments on board ships.


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Copyright 2005 the author

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