A maritime safety challenge and its impact on maritime education and training

The human factor/human element starts to have a key role in accidents and incidents during shipments at sea. Investigations show that
poor communications increasingly are the root for many tragedies.
A possible reason for communication constraints is the growing
trend to employ multicultural crews. This thesis aims to document
this new challenge in the maritime industry and to endeavour to
show how the Maritime Education and Training (MET) can address
the problem.
The lack of a company crewing policy entails a variation in management standards; it causes confusion. Therefore, it is commonly
advised that a common working language be used and expressed
in the company policy. It is not only substandard communication
that lies behind accidents but also a lack of cultural awareness and
“wrong” stereotyping.
This is a worrying situation. Researchers in the maritime field
have tried to quantify and describe the risks and identify possible
benefits with multicultural crews. Disappointingly, the results show
a strong disharmony.
The industry appears not to be capable of coping with diversity
or hesitates to balance eventual advantages with eventual risks. The
reason could be that past research studies rather confuse the industry, instead of giving useful guidance. The research strategy, that
has been used to find pros and cons in multicultural crews, perhaps
has not been the best suited. This thesis aims to propagate for a
professionally applied inductive strategy to phenomena related to
human factor constraints in the shipping industry. This thesis is also
urging MET institutions to conduct courses in cultural awareness
and increase the learning goal in English to something more than
bare basic.
With World Maritime University (WMU) students as the prime
research object, it has been found that studying in a multicultural
environment is not problem free but instead creates an opportunity
to increase the students’ communicative competence. This research
study looks at the aspects of psychology, language and pedagogy to
conclude that there is a need for courses in cultural awareness.
Most likely, multicultural crews in the shipping industry are an
irreversible trend. The solutions presented in this thesis focus on
communications and cultural awareness and the point made is that,
if courses in these two subject areas are not introduced in MET, a
mixed crew will continue to be a risk factor hazarding safety at sea.
The implication of the results, from a WMU point of view, is that
extended understanding of different cultures is a needed subject for
both students and teachers. The present, high level of study contact
time makes the need for such courses even more important.
Keywords: multiculture, communication, shipping, education,
teacher, seafarer, context, maritime.
An analysis of decision making processes in multicultural maritime
Published: 2004, Maritime Policy & Management, 31(1), pp. 15-29.
Abingdon: Taylor & Frances.
Presented: At the Shipping conference [Skipsfartskonferansen],
Norges Handelshöjskole (NHH), Norwegian School of Economics
and Business Administration; Bergen, Norway, 26 January 2005.
International maritime legislation and model courses.
Published: 2004, IAMU Journal, 3(1), pp. 94-103.
Presented: At the International Maritime Conference, Arab Academy
for Science & Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT);
Alexandria, Egypt, 29 September – 3 October 2003.
Why a qualitative research strategy? A discussion on research strategies, focusing on qualitative research; a challenge for the maritime
Published: 2004, In: Proceedings of The 5th Annual General
Assembly and Conference International Association of Maritime
Universities (IAMU), pp. 142-154. Launceston: AMTA.
Presented: At the International Maritime Conference, Australian
Maritime College (AMC); Launceston, Australia, 8-11 November
Extracts from conversations representing a social constructionist
application on research.
Published: 2005, In: Nielsen, D. (Ed.). Proceedings of The 6th
Annual General Assembly and Conference International Association of Maritime Universities (IAMU), pp. 407-416. Southampton:
Presented: At the International Maritime Conference, World Maritime University (WMU); Malmö, Sweden, 24-26 October 2005.
Getting the best from multicultural manning.
Published: 2005, BIMCO Bulletin, 100(4), pp. 28-36.
a) At the BIMCO 100 years celebration and GA 2005; Copenhagen,
Denmark, 23 May 2005.
b) At the Nordic Road & Transport Research Conference (VTI);
Linköping, Sweden, 11 January 2006.
a) The homepage of Vägverket (the Swedish Road Administration)
b) He-alert, the joint web platform of Lloyds Register and The
Nautical Institute.
The list includes the five papers1
being part of this thesis.
Horck, J. (1993, October). Sjöfartens Universitet [The University of
shipping]. Port of Copenhagen Review, 46 (9), pp. 10-11.
(In Danish).
Couper, A. & Horck, J. (1996). Baltic Navigation, Shipping and
Trade. In: Platzöder, R. and Verlaan, P. (Eds.) (1996). The Baltic
Sea: New Developments in National Policies and International Cooperation. pp. 217-231. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
Horck, J. (1996). Additional Requirements and Guidelines for Tankers and Ro/Ro Passenger Ships. The Practical Implications of the
STCW Convention: Crew Response Management. Residential Seminar in Copenhagen, 17-20 June 1996. (BIMCO Shipping course in
association with WMU). Copenhagen.
1 A paper is here understood to be an academic work published in an academic journal. A paper
will only be considered valid if it undergoes a process of peer review by one or more referees (who
are academics in the same field) in order to check that the content of the paper is suitable for publication in the journal. In addition to above a paper is also a research study, in competition with other
writers, accepted for presentation at a reputable international conference.
Horck, J. (1996). Assessment of Training/Educational Institutions
and Teachers. Practical Workshops on ISM & STCW. Residential
Seminar in Copenhagen, 11-14 November 1996. (BIMCO Shipping
course). Copenhagen.
Zade, G. & Horck, J. (1997). Seeking Excellence Through Cooperation: the European Commission’s METHAR Project and Concerted Action on MET. The New World of Maritime Education:
IMLA Conference and Workshop, 7-11 September 1997, St. John’s,
Newfoundland, Canada.
Horck, J. (1997). Ett utbildningssystem i tiden; understött av cooperation [An education system in our time; supported by cooperation]. (Notes for an Address to the Inauguration of an Educational System/Centre in Skärhamn on the Island of Tjörn 28 February
1997). (In Swedish).
Horck, J. (1998). STCW Part B Guidance: Will it encourage uniform
application and compliance? STCW 95 – Practical Considerations.
Residential Seminar in Copenhagen 15-17 June 1998. (BIMCO shipping course). Copenhagen.
Horck, J. (1998, August). STCW 95 – practical considerations.
BIMCO Bulletin, 93(4), pp. 25-32.
Horck, J. (1998). Voluntary and Regulatory Instruments for future
environment sustainability. (Notes for an Address at Göteborg
Shipping Week 3-5 November 1998).
Horck, J. (1999). Harmonisation of European MET. Feasibility’s of
cooperative efforts to achieve comparable standards for European
seafaring employment. MARED 99-Seminar on Education for higher safety. Göteborg, 21-22 April 1999.
Horck, J. (1999). Harmonisation of European MET. Feasibility’s of
cooperative efforts to achieve comparable standards for European
seafaring employment. Nordisk Navigations Forum, 2(99), pp. 7-17.
Ma, S. & Horck, J. (1999). The role of World Maritime University
in port training beyond the year 2000. 15th international port training conference Göteborg 30 May-2 June 1999.
Horck, J. (2001). The Future STCW 95. Residential Seminar in
Copenhagen 3-5 September 2001. (BIMCO shipping course).
Horck, J. (2001). Group-decision-making in a multicultural and
multilingual context. Application shipping. C-uppsats, Malmö:
Malmö University, School of Teacher Education.
Horck, J. (2002). Aspects of decision-making in a multicultural shipping environment. Proceedings. In: Proceedings of The 3rd Annual
General Assembly and Conference International Association of
Maritime Universities (IAMU) in Rockport, Main, USA September
Horck, J. (2002). A culturally mixed student body The WMU experience in fostering becoming decision makers. D-uppsats. Malmö:
Malmö University, School of Teacher Education.
Horck, J. (2004). International maritime legislation and model courses. The 4th general assembly of the International Association of
Maritime Universities (IAMU) in Alexandria, Egypt September 29-
October 3. IAMU Journal, 3(1), pp. 94-103.
Horck, J. (2004). An analysis of decision-making processes in multicultural maritime scenarios. Maritime Policy & Management, 31(1),
pp. 15-29. Abingdon: Taylor & Frances.
Horck, J. (2004). Why a qualitative research strategy? A discussion
on research strategies, focusing on qualitative research in the maritime cluster. In: Proceedings of The 5th Annual General Assembly
and Conference International Association of Maritime Universities
(IAMU) in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia November 8-11. pp.
Horck, J. (2004). Review of the book Isolde av Singapore by
du Rietz, P and Ljunggren, M. Maritime Policy & Management,
31(2), p. 173. Abingdon: Taylor & Frances.
Horck, J. (2005). Extracts from conversations representing a social
constructionist application on research in Maritime Security and
MET. In: Nielsen, D. (Ed) (2005). Proceedings of The 6th Annual
General Assembly and Conference International Association of
Maritime Universities (IAMU) in Malmö Sweden 24-26 October,
pp. 407-416. Southampton: WITPress.
Horck, J. (2005). Getting the best from multicultural manning.
BIMCO Bulletin, 100 (4), pp. 28-36.
Horck J. (2005, October). Communication skills are vital to safe
ship operations. The International Maritime Human Element
Bulletin, (9) p. 3.
Author’s project participation
Research person, WMU research project on The Status of Education and Training Programmes at the Malaysian Maritime Academy
(ALAM), 1997.
Research person, EC research project on Harmonization of European Maritime Education and Training Schemes (METHAR), European Commission Contract No. WA-96-CA.005, 1996 -2000.
Research person, EC research project on Maritime Education and
Training Systems in China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines
(CIIPMET), European Commission Contract No. B97-B2 7040-SIN
2129-ETU-D4-MP, 1997-1998.
Research person and coordinator, EU research project on Information exchange and impact assessment for enhanced environmental conscious operations in European ports and terminals (ECOPORTS). European Commission Contract No. GRD2-2000-30195,
Research person and coordinator, EU research project on Maritime
Navigation and Information Services (MarNIS). European Commission Contract No. FP6-2002-TREN-1, ongoing.
Figure Heading Chapter
1 Different sectors of shiptypes as a 1.3.1
percentage of total number of ships in
the world fleet on 1 January, 2006
2 “An alienated seafarer” 6.2
3 Examples of a WMU student’s study 7.3.3
environments and how environments in
the past can have an impact on status
quo. The •’s around the figures symbolize
examples of environments that the human
encounter during different stages of life
4 Triangulation 8.1.1
5 Maritime cultural awareness 9.1
Table Heading Chapter
1 Maritime accidents due to language 1.3
and/or culture constraints
2 Pedagogy impact in papers 8.1
The review of research and related literature contained in this thesis
is a support of the argument that lacks of cultural awareness and
weak communication skills have been acknowledged as possible factors in maritime accidents and incidents.
A goal has been that the papers should be a wake-up call in the
maritime industry and relay this information to appropriate instances and to derive innovative solutions. The results will consist of
both objective data about culture constraints, conclusions from
research studies and a number of pragmatic recommendations for
authorities, shipping companies, maritime education institutions,
etc. The expected impact is increased safety at sea by offering courses in cultural awareness or increase the manning complement and
giving mariners an education in the English that is more than a
postbeginner’s knowledge i.e. above basic.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has been the
primary international body researching the seafarer as a human
element and developing subsequent regulation and guidance in an
effort to reduce associated accidents in the maritime industry. Serious investigation into the impact of the human factor on safety of
life and property at sea began in 1991 with the launching of the
IMO working group on Role of the Human Element. In the wake
of investigations still no guidance, codes, recommendations or
regulations have been put forward. In 2006 the UK Maritime and
Coastguard Agency, MCA, published Leading for safety. A practical guide for leaders in the Maritime Industry where lack of cultural awareness and seafarers lack of adequate English have been an
issue for shipowners to take action on. Otherwise, the guidance and
regulations on cultural awareness and communication are blurred in
pursuit of economic viability.
There is a lack of systematic accident reporting and causation
analysis with regard to both lacks of cultural awareness and communication constraints.
This study is done in a preventive interest with the argument that
the industry should not wait for studies to be conducted in the wake
of an accident investigation. The study encourages MET to be proactive and, before the legislators tell them what to do, start courses in
cultural awareness for crew and teachers in MET. The study also
encourages MET upgrading the learning requirements in English to
be more than a post-beginner’s.
After 15 years at sea and 25 years within the educational field
the author has gained interest in issues on multiculturalism, communication and questions with reference to teaching and learning.
Instructions and learning onboard and in the classroom have many
similarities and in both scenarios there are opportunities to encounter misunderstandings that can be fatal both to the ship environment
and to a student in school.
The methods, in this thesis, here called strategies, have been chosen with a wide anticipation that they can contribute to further
knowledge and awareness on how students studying in a culturally
mixed environment do adapt and learn. The aim is that the information gained in this research study can be applied in Maritime
Education and Training (MET) to reduce wrong stereotyping and in
a wider perspective contribute to safer shipping.
Not in any of the research studies presented in this thesis there is
a clear hypothesis. Instead it could be spelled out that mixed crewing
(a multicultural crew complement) is not possible or bound to be a
success without crew having a course in cultural awareness. Another
success factor could be to change the management style onboard
and return to a more hierarchic management instead of teamwork
because in a crises situation good single command is necessary.
In the multicultural classroom context the “hypothesis” would be
that it is important to establish a fair level playing field in order to
give mature students full access to the teacher.
The papers and articles chosen to illustrate the dilemma in the
maritime world has been guided by an effort to tell the industry that
an anticipated challenge both onboard ships and in the maritime
classroom is not enough studied and that research studies to find out
best practise of multicultural environments perhaps should be more
focused. By the use of recognised research strategies perhaps a clearer picture will appear on challenges, advantages and disadvantages
of a mixed crew complement.
Malmö, 1 October 2006
Jan Horck
In many respects, the challenge of globalisation causes the world to
merge. An interesting question is whether a merging world order of
great dimensions can flourish if a gap between individual countries,
different cultures and school systems continues to persist? Is it possible to achieve what we mean by a global industry under such foreseen obstacles? Population movements in the world make this an
urgent issue. The movements of people will have a serious effect in
the education world and will impel a rapid international harmonization/standard in education. In national Maritime Education and
Training (MET)2
this will be even more accentuated because of its
worldwide operation per se.
Another factor, underlining the globalisation efforts being reflected in MET, is the need for usually expensive equipment and simulators that are and, in the future, will be even more so, a necessity
in order to give industry-practitioners good education. Maritime
nations probably will have to exercise better cooperation, practise
and share utilization of training equipment. The
required level of education and training, according to the UN special
agency IMO, will have to be more emphasized.
One of its universal regulations for maritime training, the Standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention, that was revised and named STCW-95, is a clear indication
of an extended harmonisation of maritime education.
2 Acronyms and other explanations, see p. 185.
3 Benchmarking in the meaning to realise that there are those who are better than yourself e.g. meet
your colleagues and discuss best practises.
The European Union (EU) has a strong policy of making a workforce mobility program possible for every inhabitant in the union.
Most probably European MET will be centralised to a few highly
professional and most modern equipped institutions and this mainly
to reduce the high educational cost per student4
. Other continents
or countries in dense regional shipping areas as well as countries
with a prominent shipping policy will follow this trend and be
more costconscious in respect of the education of seafarers. Seafarers move between shipping companies of all nationalities and this
makes it unfair for the countries who invest in expensive education
on the assumption that the students will serve in the national fleet.
The shipping industry nations will call for a cost-sharing educational program. In its turn, the centralised education will have a
positive effect on the harmonization of the education and training; something that is urgently needed and repeated at intervals by
IMO. This is not a result of abolishing the common past sentence
appearing in many IMO conventions, codes and regulations “…
to the satisfaction of the Administration …” (though this is very
important too) but rather to optimize the utilisation of for example
very expensive maritime simulators of different kinds. Cost-cutting
exercises, but not on any activity, are welcome in the industry.
If the above forecasts are put into action, both students and
teachers must be able to get to grips with cultural diversity. More
and more, universities in the EU start to exchange both students
and staff in order to give their students cultural insights. In Paper I,
p. 27, an article in Financial Times is quoted where it is written that
“…three European Universities have made joint efforts on crossculturalisation and are convinced that master of business administration (MBA) graduates need an advanced understanding of European business contexts, language skills and practical international
experience …”. Van Ginkel (2004, p. 12)5
“The drive towards global civilization demands that the diversity of
the world’s cultures is not to be feared of. Diversity in all its forms
4 Educational cost per student (Sweden, 2006): Master Mariner and Chief Engineer about SEK
80.000 per student during three years of study. The industry is covering the costs for onboard
training (personal communication with the Principal of Kalmar Maritime Academy, June 2006).
5 Also in Mathews, V. (2002) MBA for Europe’s managers.. The article identifies the following
three Universities: Warwick Business School in the UK, the University of Mannheim in Germany
and Essec in France. http://specials.ft.com/businesseducation/march2002/FT39WKFAI0D.html.
Retrieved on 15 September 2006.
enriches and contributes to human development”. In the same
article van Ginkel concludes: “As the transcontinental movement
of students intensifies there is a tendency for incoming students to
set themselves apart from the host culture or the other way around.
Crosscultural dialogue … needs to be reciprocal. And the first step
… begins at home”. These statements certainly are relevant for MET
institutions as well; whether national (at the time being), EU-centred
(in the near future) and perhaps later also other regionally centred
MET institutions in the world (in the foreseeable future).
It is generally realized within the shipping sphere that “if there is
to be any further dramatic improvement in safety and efficiency…
the human dimension must be addressed” (The human element,
2004, p. 7). Education with a focus on maritime training will then
be an important pillar for any human element reform. The focus
of the education should be on challenging traditional ways of
doing things, the hierarchy onboard, teamwork practices, cultural
awareness and a common spoken language at sea, English. Attitudes
onboard ships and towards shipshore relationships need to be
critically examined. If we can get this right during the student’s time
at the MET institution a lot of benefits will flow from it; primarily
safer and secure shipping. In order to comprehend the problem of
internal onboard communication6
and external communication
problems (ship/ship and ship/shore) de la Campa Portela (2003, p.
15) writes “… approximately 20 percent of maritime accidents have
a communication factor as one of their causes”. This is the reality
despite the fact that IMO has recognized English to be the international
language of the sea. Factors that could hamper conversations are:
dialect, intonation, speech speed, choice of words etc.
1.1 Reason, motivation, aims and outcomes of this research
The shipping industry has in recent years been hit by a number of
accidents. The reason for many of the accidents has been investigated and found to be the human factor7
. Time and again, the
explanations have been either crew fatigue or incorrect positioning
of equipment and navigational aids i.e. ergonometric constraints.
6 In this thesis communication is identified to mean that something has become common for speaker
and listener/s; equally understood.
7 The human factor or the human element is two words identified to mean activities that humans do
including the surroundings with eventual aids that the humans use to perform.
There might be other reasons for accidents at sea. Recently, it has
been discovered that accidents, both directly and indirectly, have
been rooted in lack of communication, with misunderstandings as a
logical consequence. The crew having different cultural upbringing,
a lack of cultural awareness and in addition poor mastery of the
English language could explain the reason for such misunderstandings. The explanation of these phenomena is in the following the
core challenge of this thesis.
The phenomenon and reason for having a ship manned with a
mixed crew complement, i.e. people recruited from many different
nationalities and cultures, is nothing new in the industry. The difference between today’s and past crew complements is the number of
people onboard; the minimum crew has decreased. In many maritime
journals and magazines (Safety at Sea, Motorship, Fairplay, Lloyds
List, TradeWinds etc.) one can find information that for example
five general cargo ships, in the middle of the 20th century, each ship
manned with about 35 persons, have been replaced with two roll
on roll off (RoRo) ships, at the beginning of the 21st century, with
about 22 persons onboard each ship. Easily, one can understand that
one serious consequence with a small crew, not fully skilled, is that
there is nobody to check if an order has been correctly accomplished
and an accident can happen. It shall be seen that a solution to the
danger of mustering a multicultural crew without prior education in
cultural awareness is to increase the number of persons onboard. The
reason why it is important to quickly do something about this unfortunate development is that it has increased the risks and hazards to
ship safety. The consequence of a small crew complement leads to an
increasingly bad reputation for the industry. Human error is human
Until IMO has made courses in cultural awareness and English
mandatory and the courses have been ratified by the member states,
the MET needs to be motivated and proactive in preparing courses
that are essentially voluntary. To conduct courses, although they are
voluntary, would be of great interest to the industry. Of course, the
courses will give the MET teachers an additional workload. But, the
voluntary courses also can be seen as an institutional need because
of the ups and downs in the student recruitment to MET. In many
countries the MET does not have the deserved support from the
government to equip the institution with modern training apparatus
and good teachers to pass on vast knowledge obtained during time
at sea. If properly administered, additional courses will give extra
funds to purchase and update the institution’s teaching equipment;
at least until there are, for example, EU-funded MET institutions
operating with economies of scale.
The lawmakers have made it regularly clear that inexperienced
seaman cannot serve onboard a merchant ship8
. Equally, it is unwise
to have a novice teacher conducting classes to a multicultural student body without giving the teacher prior knowledge in the field of
cultural awareness and pedagogy.
1.2 Definitions viable in the concept
In order to obtain a progressive view on this thesis it might be helpful to appreciate a few crucial words and expressions as defined in
this chapter and as defined by authors of other academic papers.
The words chosen are fundamental in understanding this thesis.
1) Culture/multiculture
2) Ethnicity
3) Andragogy (the art and science of helping adults learn)
4) WMU faculty
1.2.1 Culture/multiculture
During the discussions in this thesis the concept of culture is used,
despite its many definitions, often according to context, to define
common patterns of significance of human activities. The reason
for choosing the concept culture has been governed by a traditional
interpretation commonly understood. Engelbrektsson (in Lundberg,
1991, p. 13, author’s translation) interprets culture as, “… the picture and style/model of reality that a group of people, carrier of a
culture, has adopted. With acceptance the individual has to follow
rules for reading and interpreting reality and rules for both accepting and not accepting behaviour within this reality”
8 In 2006, in Sweden, a person that wishes to serve in the merchant marine is required to have a ship
familiarisation course and pre-sea training before signing on a ship. Usually the required pre-professional sea training is conducted during the enrolment at a MET institution.
Culture has become an exploited concept, sometimes overexploited and then it becomes problematic. Hannertz (in von
Brömssen, 2003, p. 64) ascertains ”… culture is everywhere. Immigrants have it, business corporations have it, young people have it,
women have it and even ordinary middle-aged men may have it, all
in their own versions”. Von Brömssen (2003) points out that culture is constructed, flexible, reconstructed, complex, changeable and
identified by great variation and divergent tendencies.
Lahdenperä (1999) concludes that there are many different ways
to define the concept intercultural (she prefers this word to multicultural) and asserts that the definition is dependent on the context.
All definitions have a common reference to a process of interaction
between people with different culture backgrounds. Lahdenperä
(ibid., p. 77, author’s translation) writes: “In intercultural contexts
different cultural backgrounds usually allude to different ethnic cultures”. The concepts of multicultural and intercultural have both
become paradigms or practices (scientific) as defined by Kuhn, in
our postmodern globalised world.
In the future, a school-system that accepts a multicultural student
body must be prepared to find a new way to conceive the relationship between personal identities and the policy of the institution.
Gutmann (1994, p.8, author’s brackets) writes: “Full public (school)
recognition as equal citizens (students) may require two forms of
a) Respect for the unique identities of each individual, regard-
less of gender, race or ethnicity, and
b) Respect for those activities, practices, and ways of viewing
the world that are particularly valued by, or associate with,
members of disadvantaged groups, including women”.
With this it follows that “… a significant part of what makes a culture distinctive is its stock of “characters”, it’s (sic) culturally most
salient identities” (Fairclough, 2003, p. 161). If it is not race, ethnicity or character that is distinctive in the definition of a person’s culture, perhaps, it is nationality? There are opinions that a culture not
based on the same language or same nationality is no longer identifiable as a culture. The reason is that in order to be able to belong to
a cultural group you must be able to communicate in order to share
common values and also to be able to follow laws and regulations
that denominate the group. A nation usually has a common language and therefore can absorb and practice the same culture. With
such distinctions culture has become a national concern; right or
In order for a ship to have a certain company culture (policy)
the working language has to be understood by all people working
for that specific company. The same would be relevant for an
educational institution otherwise the students cannot understand
rules and regulations issued by the institution and the undertone/
interpretation of such rules.
The constraints in the definition of culture/multicultural etc. have
been reflected in the daily newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet. In an
article on Mångkulturåret 2006 an interviewee tells the readers that
multicultural is synonymous to enlighten (Redvall, 2006).
The author is of the opinion that culture is a system that makes
things in life clear or clearer in order not to include any individual to
be subject to doubt on how to act among others.
Because of the many ways to explain culture perhaps there should
be no explicit definition of culture? Uexkull used the German word
umwelt to define “… the physical world that is available as a living
space to the members of a species” (Pearce, 1994, p. 301). Then
Pearce adds that “Culture is to social worlds as the umwelt is to
the material world” (ibid.). In fact umwelt is social in character.
This would mean that people walk in different environments limited
by the horizon of the culture, as it is defined. In the same way,
Wittgenstein limits his world by the management of his language.
Culture is, with this definition, described as a social umwelt metaphor.
Further in the text, the reader will realise how Bronfenbrenner
(1976) stresses how important a person’s many culture-labelled
environments form a person’s world and how this world is being
expressed by each individual. This will be important in the following
The above examples of definitions of culture are discussed to put
on record and indicate the difficulties in obtaining an unambiguous
definition of culture, and its many compounds like multicultural,
interculture etc. Lundberg (1991, p. 14, author’s translation) conclu-
des with the expression “… I see culture as a result of an individual’s
unique contribution to something in common”. This explanation
covers the meaning and understanding of culture in line with the
aim of this thesis.
1.2.2 Ethnicity
An ethnic group is a population of human beings where the members usually identify themselves with a presumed common ancestry.
The group members usually have the same culture, same behaviour,
speak the same language and practise the same religion. According
to Lange and Westin (1981), the group members are born into a
specific group and therefore not, by their own will, associate with
the group. The group-members share the same culture and identify
themselves or are identified by others as belonging (involuntarily) to
the group (Tesfahuney, 1999). The definition of ethnicity, as formulated by Tesfahuney, harmonises well with definitions by Lundberg
(1991) meaning that the person has fallen into some kind of captivity where pros and cons have to be accepted.
According to Pumfrey and Verma (in Lahdenperä, 1999, p. 91) “The
fundamentally distinctive feature of an ethnic group is not its physical
appearance, but its cultural heritage and values”. It implies that it is
not possible to actually observe a person’s cultural belonging.
In this thesis ethnicity is not used because in this context it is
covered by the concept of culture. It is not odd or something rare to
make a synonym of culture and ethnicity. Both words are frequently
used in academic writing.
1.2.3 Andragogy (the art and science of helping adults
In most MET institutions, the education is directed at adults i.e. students’ ages can vary between about 20 and 50 years9
. In Paper I and
Paper IV adult students have been subject to conversations that have
been analysed. Therefore, the understanding of mature student education is important in this thesis. Normally, when educating adults it
is wise to adapt pedagogy to be different than the systems normally
used to educate children.
9 The oldest student that has studied at the Kalmar Maritime Academy is about 55 years.
The average student age is about 30 years (personal communication with the Academy’s Principal,
June 2006).
“In practical terms, andragogy means that instruction for adults
needs to focus more on the process and less on the content being
taught. Strategies such as case studies, role playing, simulations,
and self-evaluation are most useful. Instructors adopt a role of
facilitator or resource rather than lecturer or grader”
(Knowles, 2006, p. 1).
The impact of these statements is that adults learn best when they
can see the increase in their knowledge.
This wish has also been reflected at WMU where many students
love to debate and give presentations. Students that could be
described as shy can even look forward to giving presentations
and see it as an interesting challenge. An impromptu discussion is
perhaps less popular. Therefore, at the end of the two years, in the
fourth semester, four weekly seminars are scheduled to encourage
students to be on the rostrum and debate on actual and crucial issues
in the industry.
In other words, one can define and clarify the above principles of
teaching adults with the following practises (ibid., p. 1):
“Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of
their instruction. Experience (including mistakes) provides the
basis for learning activities. Adults are most interested in being
taught subjects that have immediate relevance to their job or
personal life
Adult learning is problem-centred rather than content-oriented.
This makes generalisations more difficult.”
It should be mentioned that the method/skill to teach adults is conceptually not very simple and there are several various opinions on
how to optimise one’s efforts to obtain good results. Equally the
number of books written on adult learning is manifold.
1.2.4 WMU faculty
Academic professionals at WMU have contact with students as facilitators (according to the author a better word for a teacher’s activity
in the classroom addressing students who aspire an MSc degree) of
information (lecturing and teaching) and/or are supervisors of students’ thesis and dissertation writing or solemnly deal with research.
In this thesis all are designated as teachers.
The author believes that a teacher should not only teach but also
educate in the meaning that beside fact knowledge its application
and practical use should be equally important to pass on to the students.
1.3 A challenge to shipowners and the shipping industry
per se
Often, many maritime accidents that have been reported today, and
exemplified in Table 1, are attributed to either fatigue or ergonometric10 constraints. The included five papers contain different arguments and different angles of approach to view, argue and explain
accidents at sea by adding three additional causes that directly or
indirectly give grounds for accidents:
a) Lack of cultural awareness,
b) Inadequate knowledge of colloquial English language, with the
consequent lack of communication and confusion and
c) Alienation as a result of communication hindrances leading to a
ship safety risk.
Of course, there are many other reasons for accidents but a), b) and
c) are pivotal in this thesis.
Because of high salaries in so-called developed countries, shipowners in these countries search for labour to man their ships in lowcost crewing countries. In many of these countries the seafarers’
professional skill and knowledge are not always up to required
international standards and their English is sometimes weaker than
necessary to safely work on ships. Consequently, for cost-reduction
reasons, competitive survival arguments and an effort to maintain
the required safety level, many shipowners (not only European)
recruit crew from recognised, reputable and often own manning
agencies and own MET institutions. Otherwise, when a ship becomes subject to a port state control11, the risk would be too high
that the ship is detained because of crew incompetence. Discounted
manning can result in an expensive exercise. It has not been pos10 Ergonomics is the study of how equipment can be arranged in order that people can do work
more efficiently and comfortably (Cobuild, 1998); an interaction between humans and a system.
sible to retrieve, from reputable organisations, a clear figure on how
many detentions or inspections that have detected inadequacies in
crews’ substandard language or cultural constraints. Although, it
is not advisable to replace a well educated national crew with not
well trained non-nationals (for that matter, neither with substandard
Such reflections have been discussed in Jense (2006, p. 83,
author’s translation) where it is stated that “First and foremost the
results point at constraints with cultural differences and communication problems in certain situations and that this can be a safety
problem”. As a solution to the problem he adds “… the minimum
manning level onboard ships with mixed crew should be higher in
number than with a homogenous crew”.
In many developed countries seafarers are labelled alien species.
The shortage of national seafarers is another reason for shipowners
to recruit non-nationals. The shortage of national seafarers can
become (read: already is) a real challenge that can cause problems.
In shipowners’ head-quarters there will be foreigners working that
perhaps are not fully conversant in the company’s national language.
At board meetings such foreigners may cause misunderstandings and
consequential delay in decisions.
To the author’s knowledge, this is an anticipated problem that is
not an owner’s major headache today but might be in the near future
unless the government supports the industry with adequate and proper education possibilities. Indeed, it might be a problem today but
it is never reported as a problem and seldom talked about. Possible
constraints are not much known but still it is a subject that could
give reason for additional research because one can hear people talk
about it. Often people do not want to admit that they cannot communicate or do not understand a colleague; a management issue
requiring skills to handle diversity. Seen from different angles this
11 A port state control is an inspection by the national maritime administration that aims at eliminating the operation of sub-standard ships. Since 1982 the Paris Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) on port state control requests an inspection-target of 25% of all ships calling a country’s
ports. In 1993 the inspectors were given a Target Factor Calculator System to help the inspectors
in the selection of ships with high risk factors. In 2009 there might be a new EU directive on ships
inspections that will be totally different to the present one. Other MOU’s (Asia and the Pacific
(Tokyo MOU); Latin America (Acuerdo de Viña del Mar); Caribbean (Caribbean MOU); West and
Central Africa (Abuja MOU); the Black Sea region (Black Sea MOU); the Mediterranean (Mediterranean MOU); the Indian Ocean (Indian Ocean MOU); and the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC MOU
(Riyadh MOU)) have different rules for inspection
problem is discussed in Paper V during and after an international
meeting of shipowners and other stakeholders in the industry. The
problems of the human factor need to be brought to a much higher
grade of transparency.
In order to illustrate the problem, a few examples on communication constraints and lack of cultural awareness, found in maritime
casualty reports, are highlighted in Table 1.
Table 1. Maritime accidents due to language and/or culture
Source: Various casualty reports and IMO statistics.
*)Written in the meaning of communication.
**)Bearing in mind that lack of cultural awareness is not clearly
mentioned in casualty investigation reports.
Table 1 is short of examples of cultural awareness constraints and
that is because casualty investigators, where an investigation is carried out, supposedly have described lack of cultural awareness as a
communication problem. It is believed that culture is a psychological
barrier to understand a message. The cultural awareness problem is
12 BS Bahamas, CA Canada, CN China, CY Cyprus, DK Denmark, EG Egypt, GR Greece, LR
Liberia, NO Norway, PA Panama, SW Sweden
of accident Ship/s by name Ship/s
nationality12 Year Language
Grounding Domiat – EG 2004 x
Explosion Bow Mariner – GR 2004 x
Collision Fu Shan Hai Gdynia CN CY 2004 x
Collision Silja Opera Several SE 2003 x
Collision Tricolor Kariba NO BS 2003 x
Grounding Sea Mariner – CY 2002 x
Collision Xu Chang Hai Aberdeen PA BS 2000 x
Crew death Sally Maersk – DK 2000 x
Collision Tidan Anglo SW NO 1998 x
Grounding Algolake – CA 1997 x
Grounding Braer – LR 1993 x
Fire Scandinavian
– BS 1990 x
Grounding Torrey Canyon – LR 1967 x x
globally recognised with the established working group at IMO by
the name Role of the Human Element13 and written reports by the
insurance companies (P&I Clubs).
The Braer accident shows, from full tape transcripts, that there
were language difficulties experienced during a number of telephone
conversations. In the Scandinavian Star accident communication
problems between crew and between crew and passengers were a
significant factor in the fatalities. The collision between Xu Chang
Hai and Aberdeen is a good example on how language can be a
barrier to effective communication and where cultural awareness is
an underlying factor. In the casualty investigation report it is written “Language difficulties and cultural differences, along with his
(Master) lack of practical shiphandling experience in the vessel …”
(Report on the …, 2001, p. 16, author’s bracket). In the Torrey
Canyon accident the Master was intimidating his officers and crew
whenever the opportunity arose. Torrey Canyon is a typical example
of a hierarchy-working environment leading to miscommunication.
Officers were afraid of communicating with the Master. In Algogate
it is the same problem causing an accident. The officer on watch
thought the Captain had taken command on the bridge by suddenly
doing a manoeuvre without first informing the officer of the watch.
Bow Mariner is the latest accident where the culture barrier clearly
was the reason for the explosion; fear for the Captain.
Above is meant to give the reader information on a few accidents
where the casualty investigation reports mention that communication or lack of cultural awareness are considered to be a direct or
indirect reason for a maritime accident or incident. Some of the accidents show an avoidance of speaking English thus making all involved fail to obtain the full information they should have in order to
make a proper decision. It is assumed that many seafarers together
with the author agree that the lawmakers, setting rules and regulations, should raise their level of attention and realise the downside
of language incomprehension!
13 Formally established at IMO in 1991. The fact that the working group was established jointly by
both major IMO committees is in recognition of the fact that the human element is a key factor in
both safety and pollution prevention issues. Retrieved on 14 September, 2006 from http://www.imo.
1.3.1 Mercantile shipping in beginning of the 21st century14
The movement of goods over water is a historically very old activity.
The industry has a name of being conservative. Though, the technical evolution has been a lot faster than the mind of the practitioners.
The industry is traditionally globalized and has become extremely
complex in modern time.
Continents and countries are linked by the shipping industry and
it brings wealth to people on earth. In 2003, cargoships moved about
5,900 billion (109
) ton of cargo, to a value of about SEK 56,000
billion. The transport work was about 24,600 billion tonmiles. Most
of these transports are agricultural products, about 90 percent. The
ships that move the cargo are usually specialized dependent on the
commodity they carry i.e. tankers (crude oil and products), gas carriers, bulk carriers (dry bulk like grain, iron ore, coal, sand etc.),
reefer ships (fruits and meat), container ships (general cargo stowed
in containers), RoRo ships (roll on roll off), pure car carriers, truck
and car carriers, a number of specialized ships (asphalt, timber, wine,
etc.), ferries, cruise ships. The number of commercial ships to carry
out these transports is about 40,000 ships. The three biggest shipping nations, i.e. from where the owners come, are Greece, Japan
and Norway. Many ships are registered in countries like: Panama,
Liberia and Bahamas. These countries are often characterized as
flags of convenience. The EU nowadays controls almost 50 percent
of the world’s merchant fleet. The distribution of ship types is illustrated in Figure 1.
Compared to other transport modes, rail, road and air, shipping is very energy efficient in consumption. This makes the freight
cost low and the impact on the environment becomes substantially
lower than by using e.g. different road transport possibilities. As
an example, the movement of one litre of gasoline, that costs the
consumer about SEK 12 at the petrol station, costs about SEK 0.07
to transport. To move a pair of Nike shoes from the production in
the Far East to Sweden costs less than one crown of the retail price.
For the non-Swede the comparison of the transport of a TV set from
Asia to Europe/USA where the shelf price is about USD 700,0 the
shipping costs amount USD 10,0. Coffee with a shelf price of USD
15,0 for a kilo costs USD 0,15 to transport and a bottle of beer that
14 Statistics and facts in this chapter have been retrieved from the Scandinavian Shipping Gazette
”Sjöfartens Bok 2005”.
costs USD 1,0 costs USD 0,01 to transport. Bulk shipping costs have
increased about 70 percent in the last 50 years. US retail prices have
risen by almost 700 percent15.
Figure 1. Different sectors of shiptypes as a percentage of total
number of ships in the world fleet on 1 January, 2006.
Source: Lloyds Register Fairplay
Measured in weight about 70 percent of the EU export went on
ships. Between EU countries about 30 percent is moved with ships.
There is an extensive research carried out to assure that ports, to
ships for transport, handle more cargo. The EU has an extensive
programme (the Marcopolo project, the motorways of the sea) to
shift land transport to shipping.
The quality of world wide trading ships varies a lot. In order
to assure that the ships comply with prescribed standards and to
international standards in international trade the Maritime Administration in the flagstate (the flag the ship is carrying) do flagstate
inspections within certain intervals depending the ships age, trade
etc. In addition the Maritime Administration in ports that the ship
calls inspect ships in what is called port state control. In addition to
prescribed inspections and controls the shippers control the ships
(vetting inspections by the oil majors), insurance companies inspect
15 The USD references have been retrieved on 20 November, 2006 from www.shippingfacts.com.
25% 4%
7% 38%
Bulk carriers
Container ships
General cargo ships
Passenger ships
ships, labour unions do their controls, classifi cation societies on behalf of the fl ag administration do controls/inspections etc. During a
ship’s port call the Captain often has to attend many such inspections. When the ship is in a port perhaps the crew, including the offi cers and the Captain, instead deserve a good rest after many days
of bad weather at sea.
Under such conditions one could ask: is it a future at sea? To
become a seaman usually is a lifestyle and not only a work opportunity. The work is coloured by internationalism, safety and environment. In order to be competitive shipowners from industrialized
countries, at least Swedish owners, have to be operated with high
efficiency and with competent crew. This demand requires a high
demand on education and competence development. Work onboard
requires crew to take higher responsibilities and be able to cooperate
i.e. work in teams. To be authorized or licensed to handle a ship
and its cargo, as an officer, both theoretical studies and long work
practice are required.
The national Maritime Administration of the ship’s flag determines the number of crew and its qualifications. The crew size varies
with the ship’s size and its trade pattern. The crew is usually split
in three sections or departments onboard. In the deck department
people are occupied with the navigation of the ship, cargo handling
and ship’s maintenance. The leader is called the Chief Officer. The
department also include an additional one or two officers and three
to five ABs (Able Body seaman). The engine department includes
the technical leader the Chief Engineer and one or two engineers
and a few motormen. The third department looks after the catering.
In this department people are working with the feeding of the crew
and adherence to the crews cabins. Beside the department leader,
the Steward, sometimes also being the cook, about one or two other
persons are working. Of course, the number of the people working
very much depends on the total crew. Sometimes the ships also have
cadets or apprentices to work and learn onboard but these are surplus to the stipulated minimum crew.
With the above number of people the ship becomes a small society.
The leader of them all is the Captain or Master and he is a person
with nautical experience; he is a navigator, a Master Mariner. The
Captain is also responsible for the administrative work onboard
(budget, planning, leadership) that on Swedish ships have been delegated to him by the owner.
Some people onboard have watch duties and some work only
daytime. The deck department is usually divided in watch functions.
There are two systems in practice: 1) watch work in four hours and
off watch in eight hours or 2) on watch six hours and off watch six
hours. The time spent onboard vary from country to country but
normally crew is onboard for six weeks and then off duty for six
weeks. When crew is onboard they are on duty 24 hours. On non
Swedish ships the duration onboard could be longer but then also
the salary is higher.
There is a general worry that there will be an international shortage of crew in the near future. In the Swedish merchant marine the
average age is high. Some of the young people that have decided for
a career at sea change their mind and seek work ashore. The industry needs people with practical background at different occupations
Sailors recruited from EU and from countries belonging to the
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD
countries) are becoming an increasing minority. The majority of
seafarers come from Asia and countries like the Philippines (20%),
Indonesia, India, China, Vietnam etc. and also from the Baltic States, Poland and the former Soviet Union etc. The labour mobility is
totally globalized.
The shipping world is organized by the International Maritime
Organisation (IMO), the International Labour Organization (ILO),
the European Union (EU), the World Customs Organization (WCO)
etc. The most important concerns for these organisations are the
fundamental aspects of safety and environment protection. About
800 major international conventions, codes, recommendations,
rules, regulations and guidelines safeguard that a professional transport job is carried out. These organizations have no sanction authority; it is tied to national sovereignty. There are about 175 flagstates
in the world with varying competence and quality and with varying
culture and practices regarding safety, safety related matters, environment concerns and education.
The control of a flagstate’s ratified instruments is usually carried
out by Classification Societies (95 percent of world tonnage) who do
the work on behalf of the flagstate (a delegated work). Some other
important actors in the industry are: P&I Clubs (insurance companies), cargo owners associations, trade unions, management companies, crewing agencies, shipping agents, sale and purchase brokers,
training institutions and not to forget the shipping companies themselves and their owners. All of above and several other organisations
have their own views on safety, environment protection, education,
crew compositions etc. A common interest for all stakeholders is
cost reduction. A key parameter for cutting costs is employing less
people onboard, hire crew from low cost countries, hiring crew from
several countries (mixed crew complement), increased technology
and move faster.
The education to become a seafarer varies dependent on work
position onboard. In Sweden, an AB and a Motorman are educated
within the framework of the three-year gymnasieskolan. In addition
there are a few other alternatives to study that can make the student eligible for further studies at a Maritime Institution (Merchant
Marine Academy).
The theoretical knowledge to become an officer can be obtained at Maritime Institutions. In Sweden there are two Institutions:
Shipping and Marine Technology – Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg and at Kalmar Maritime Academy. Completed
studies give 120 academic points (ECTS 180 credits, European Credit Transfer System).
Seafaring has become a high technology person’s skill carried out
by men. The number of women is gradually growing though it is a
very tough job. Isolation and loneliness are major problems because
of the small crew. Fatigue has become a safety problem and occupational health problems are frequent. The industry, from an international point of view, is trying to cope with new ideas that perhaps
have not been properly founded; the issue of crewing is one of these
1.4 A challenge to maritime education and training (MET)
In the past and in many countries, a longstanding and notorious
habit of MET has been, and perhaps at some MET institutions
still is, that of the habit of waiting to be told what to do. With the
STCW-95 Convention came an opportunity and a need to be proactive16. The MET institutions should, on own initiative, start courses
on issues that tend to become a difficulty for the industry. The mission of MET should firstly be to serve the shipping industry, not for
the Maritime Administration to show that they have a functioning
MET institution. Certainly, it should not be to gratify their own
workplace but to assure the national Maritime Administration that
knowledge and skill is passed on as stipulated by the rulemakers and
requested by the industry. The MET should also adapt their courses
to satisfy the individual students and to meet their wishes to build up
a career within the industry and this also after a career at sea. This is
why in Paper III it is pleaded and recommended that courses should
be conducted in:
a) Cultural awareness, as recommended in a future presumptive
IMO model course on the same. If not, wrong stereotyping will
continue in the industry.
b) Extensive English language covering more than the need for
managing safety aspects and work practices. If not, seafarers
might be alienated and then constitute a safety risk.
c) Bridge resource management (BRM) and teamwork. If there is
no BRM-training misunderstanding of the concept will mean
that many Captains/Masters will continue to think aloud and
believe he is team-working (Paper V).
The consequences of not incorporating the above subjects into the
curricula of becoming Masters (Captains), officers of the watch and
ratings will be further discussed.
These courses should be repeated, at regular intervals, because
people have a tendency to forget. Repetition becomes more important
when we do not know if the eventual power of cultural diversity
hinders or endures understanding. Because of lack of knowledge of
behaviour patterns in multicultural settings teachers should be careful to standardise activities and procedures when the student body
is culturally diverse.
16 A proactive MET is a natural consequence of having obtained a quality assurance (QA) award. A
good management system should be subject for regular revisions and not be static.
Some education institutions, in the world, already conduct such
courses but must intensify them to achieve even better understanding. If the IMO includes the above courses in the curricula of an
amended STCW it will become a mandatory accomplishment for the
countries that ratify the instrument. As per 31 December 2005, IMO
reports that about 99 percent of all maritime UN member states had
ratified the STCW-95 Convention and become contracting states.
The MET providers themselves have to be more proactive because
they are best placed to address this serious situation.
1.5 Author’s contribution to wider understanding of the
human element in shipping
With this thesis the shipping industry will be more aware of an industrial difficulty and hopefully will take the issue under serious consideration. Maritime literature and maritime casualty investigation
reports more and more find that human relations on a ship, before
an accident, were not as they should be according to good seamanship or/and social relationships. Bad relationships have often been
the result of bad communication, followed by misunderstandings
rooted in a lack of cultural awareness. However, the crucial point is
that cultural awareness and cultural understanding must be embedded in the lectures during the student’s time at the MET institution.
With “proper” stereotyping misunderstandings and misconceptions
will be reduced and safer shipping will be a logical consequence.
With the five papers, and additional research, the industry,
including the shipowners but in particular the MET institutions,
hopefully will realise the need to start and to prepare themselves to
incorporate cultural awareness into the curricula and also propagate
better learning in the spoken English language; something more than
needed for managing crises situations. With the minimum English
standard, as required per today, the seaman becomes alienated and
therefore directly a safety risk.
It should be mentioned that Admiral Mitropoulos, Secretary
General of IMO, has declared his vision, for his time in office, to
focus on the human element. Grey (2006, p. 4), chief editor of
Lloyds List, wrote and quoted the Secretary General: “… how can
anyone ignore shipping when more than a tonne of cargo is carried
for every man, woman and child on the planet”. Most important is
the actual seafarer who does the job of moving cargo on the oceans
of the world. He or she needs to travel in style, like the cargo they
are set to move, and be able to understand each other and be able to
communicate in a harmonised social environment.
1.5.1 Author’s pre-comprehension
The textual analysis of conversations, from a specific sample being
the subject for research, very much depends on the researcher. His or
her professional and academic background together with gender has
significant importance for the reader evaluating the thesis’s validity
and reliability. The researcher’s gender has meaning because it can
have an impact on or influence the respondents’ answers. Naturally,
the researcher’s attitude to the subject also has an impact. According to Roald (1994), when talking in a multicultural setting there
is a danger of ethnocentrism involved. The reader has to understand
that the researcher’s objectivity is often difficult for him or her to
sustain. Researchers have their own view with the risk of making
their research subjective. Therefore it is important for the reader
to be aware that most findings in the research are interpretations
and thus subjective. Therefore, to know the researcher’s background
should be a supportive element in an evaluation of the thesis. The
above awareness becomes more important when the research strategy is inductive.
In the effort to understand the whole you have to understand
its parts (Alvesson and Sköldberg, 1994). A partial understanding
includes the author and the context of observation including the
historical context of the author. The interpretation or understanding
process is connected to author’s empathy and how empathy has been
developed. This is the reason why the reader has to understand the
author and the conditions or base on how he/she has developed conclusions etc.
Being a Master Mariner, sailing for about 15 years on Swedish
registered ocean-going ships with mixed crews, the author’s understanding of maritime problems and human resources has not passed
unobserved. In addition to actual onboard service in different positions the author has passed a two-year teacher course for teachers
at MET Institutions. In Anglo-Saxon terminology it would compare
to an Extra Master. The author’s grade transcript contains the two
major subjects of transport techniques and navigation. These two
years were completed at the University of Stockholm. Presently the
author works as lecturer at the World Maritime University (WMU)
where duties, besides teaching a multicultural student body, (average
age 35), also comprises the setting up of academic programs for student field studies, mainly in Scandinavia and Europe. At the time of
this study the author has been working at WMU for 23 years. Two
years before taking up the employment at WMU the author served
as teacher at the University of Lund, Department of Maritime Studies. The duties were mainly teaching and examining Master Mariners, Officers of the watch and organizing short courses, together
with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
(SIDA) and IMO, in ship safety and environment protection. These
courses were conducted for a multicultural student body. The author has contributed with several papers, mainly on maritime education, at international seminars at e.g. BIMCO, International Maritime Lecturers Association (IMLA), International Association of
Maritime Universities (IAMU), Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) etc. The author is visiting professor
at IMO’s International Maritime Academy (IMO/IMA) in Trieste,
Italy, and at the TÜW Academy Middle East in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
The above activities have given a good understanding of multicultural/multilingual working and studying-conditions and they have
been a part of the cause to arise an interest in the research subject.
As a summary of the above, the author’s contact with people from
other cultures than born into has occupied all his working life. To
work under such conditions is very rewarding for one’s own selfesteem. A mariner’s eye must be open to change, not only changes in
the weather and onboard constraints, but also for changes in human
behaviour and its impact on the welfare of those entirely dependent
on an individual. Without going too deep into the subject it can be
said that working together with Asians, Latin Americans, Africans,
Australians and also crew from south Europe is quite demanding on
the person being in command of such a blend. One must always be
alert to what people really mean when they express themselves. In
particular, this becomes important when giving orders and in situations of crises. Of course, this does not become easier when collea-
gues are born in a culture that is different to one’s own and have a
mother tongue different to the generally accepted English language
at sea. Fiske (2004, p. 18, author’s translation) formulates this: “…
the meaning is equally embedded in the culture as in the message”.
Instead of learning the hard way some pre-knowledge would make
life easier and lessen risks for those assigned to work at sea and not
naturally able to accommodate themselves with foreigners.
Forsman (2002) adds that in her experience elderly researchers as
well as very young researchers do give a more objective picture of
the research than a person in the midst of a career or who have positions to defend. The statement by Forsman has been added to make
the reader concerned about the validity of this report.
1.6 Thesis arrangement
This thesis has been divided into nine chapters that end with the
connected and concluding chapter “Conclusion and discussion”.
Chapter 1, “Introduction”, gives the reader the reason for this thesis, bearing in mind the situation at MET institutions and onboard
merchant ships regarding inadequate English language knowledge
and lack of cultural awareness in a context of cultural mixing.
Together with definitions of a few concepts, important in this thesis,
the chapter contains general remarks on challenges for stakeholders
in the shipping industry when working in a multicultural teacher
staff/crew complex. To realise the importance of communication
and cultural awareness a few recent examples of maritime accidents
have been included. This chapter gives the reader the possibility to
judge the reliability of the conclusions by getting knowledge of the
comprehension/knowledge of the author; the researcher.
Chapter 2, “Communication and communication constraints”,
discusses the challenge of talking and making yourself understood
in a second and/or foreign language. It is believed that seafarers need
to have an English-speaking skill in excess of a post-beginner’s level.
Included in the chapter is a subchapter on the importance of interpreting behaviour as a means for transmitting a message.
Chapter 3, “The challenge of multiculturalism”, elaborates on the
difference between a mono- and a multicultural student body and
its impact on teaching and learning processes. In many countries the
teacher is seen as a “guru” and in other countries as a colleague. The
author discusses power distance and the impact of stereotyping.
Chapter 4, “Learning and teaching”, concerns a student’s learning process. A student’s cognitive style is dependent on the culture
she or he originates from. The impact of both teacher’s and student’s
stereo-typing and existing power relation are issues that have impact
on a lecture outcome. Fair assessment of students being taught in a
cultural mix apparently needs to be discussed and has been one of
the subjects for queries during the conversations with students.
Chapter 5, “Maritime education and training (MET)”, contains
a short description on international recommendations on maritime
education. What expectations do the industry and the students have
on the education for professional mariners? Who are the students
enrolling in national MET? In order to verify the need for cultural
awareness a few words have been focused on the EU declaration on
workforce mobility; one of the five pillars of the EU.
Chapter 6, “A short presentation of the five papers in this thesis”,
adds the reason for the papers selected. The selection forwards messages to the shipping conglomeration that researchers need to take
account of inductive research strategies and that the shipping industry should be aware that lack of cultural awareness and inadequate
crew English more often is the direct or indirect reason for accidents
and mistakes at sea and perhaps also in multicultural classrooms.
Primarily, Chapter six is a short recapitulation of the results, findings and statements in each of the five respective papers.
Chapter 7, “A general overview of strategies to analyse research
data”, aims to give the reader an overview and explanation of the
research strategies (methods) used in the included papers. For the
reason of clarification the difference between constructivism and
constructionism has been added. The generating theory is induction, using qualitative, data i.e. an assertion on discourse analysis is
unavoidable. Bronfenbrenner’s system of emphasising the students’
milieu, contrary to a laboratory research, has been extended because
it has also been an assumption in the research strategies used in a
few of the papers.
Chapter 8, “Research study strategies used in the included
papers”, elaborates in more detail on the way of finding meanings,
opinions, feelings etc. from conversations with students. The chapter also incorporates the research target, the WMU students, and the
prime discussion topics during the conversations.
Chapter 9, “Conclusion and discussion”, is a connected discussion on, and a general expansion of, the results from the papers.
Included is a discussion on paper validity and reliability or better
expressed with terms like transparency, coherence, content and
The included five papers, of course, will give a fuller explanation
than what can be done in this thesis. The reason for choosing the
selected papers is discussed in chapter 6.1. The papers have been
referred to and indicated with roman figures: I, II, III, IV and V.
The remarks and observations disseminated in this thesis are the
result of the author’s thinking, observations, conversations, notes
from media, other studies and listening to practising seafarers and
students at MET institutions and at WMU.
The footnotes have been inserted in order for non-academic shipping people to better understand the concept.
This thesis includes four Appendices:
Appendix 1. International17 Maritime Organisation, IMO, a rulesetting UN special Agency.
Appendix 2. World Maritime University18, WMU, an apex IMO
maritime education institution.
Appendix 3a. First year: Grade distribution between 2001 and 2005;
Appendix 3b. Second year: Grade distribution between 2001 and
2005; gender.
Appendix 4. Approvals to use the papers drawn upon in this thesis.
The reason for this thesis arrangement is to enlighten the reader of
the five papers, add remarks on the papers and support the papers
with additional facts and useful knowledge in order to grasp the
concept and message the author wishes to pass on to various stakeholders in the shipping industry.
In order to facilitate the reading of the thesis the author has made
references to the included papers whenever there is a reason for it.
Debate, criticism and discussions are central in modern science.
To impeach and call in question have become driving forces to develop
17 See Appendix 1
18 See Appendix 2
knowledge according to Sohlberg and Sohlberg (2001). This is
the reason why Papers II, III and V are included in this thesis. The
author has endeavoured to show that these problems, or challenges,
that are discussed in this thesis have a multifaceted character and
that nothing should be taken to be something that is for certain.
The writing and presentation of the chapters in this thesis are
perhaps not comme il faut but the reason for the style of writing is
inspired by Kvale, Hartman, Bergström, Idar et al., Potter, Patton
and Flyvbjerg, to mention a few, who are of the opinion that the
writing in a report of a research based on inductive strategies using
qualitative data should awaken an interest and make the reader
eager to read more on the issues discussed. The aim of the research
study is to understand not to produce a proof. A result of this statement is that the report-language should be of free choice by the
reporter/the researcher. The question then arises on how to awaken
a reader’s curiosity. A recognised custom is perhaps not to add statements, discussion topics or questions before the reader comes to the
chapter of discussions and conclusions. The reader will find some of
the opposite in this thesis. To give an author’s opinion should also
be addressed at the end of the thesis but the reader will find some of
such in the subsequent chapters for the same reason above.
Crosscultural problems can easily be explained by studying the way
a student has learnt another language and by his or her cultural
adjustment skill. A typical action taken by good language-learners
is to satisfy a desire to become part of a certain group. He or she is
usually motivated by a wish to learn an added language in order to
have status or simply to be able to understand the world by listening
and talking in the new language.
If a person does not understand the system of social interaction in
another country, having a culture different to his/her culture he/she
easily can become suspicious, withdrawn and also hostile in behaviour. The interaction with the other can be a painful trauma. In Paper
V the author discusses these phenomena and the human reaction of
a person not being able to keep up a conversation with fellow crew
members; leading towards an alienated seafarer. The paper creates
awareness of the impact of such behaviour and human predicament
for safety onboard ships.
Chapter two has been given additional room in this thesis because
language and interpreting language are fundamental phenomena in
theories and strategies built on hermeneutic19 philosophies and discourse analyse. It will be understood that the efforts and constraints
in understanding meaning are not given by self-evident formulas.
19 Hermeneutic: to draw a meaning out of text (exegesis). The tradition of hermeneutic understanding is unfamiliar to explaining and theorising science (Alvesson and Sköldberg, 1994). It is a
revealing act of truth.
2.1 Language
A social constructivist view of communication assumes that people
interpret and create their social world; their reality. Language is the
tool we use to create the reality in which we live and to coordinate
our world with the world of others. Meaning is created in interaction between human beings (Potter, 2004). The truth20 of moral philosophies (ethics) and science is built on language metaphors and
not on facts coming from nature. With this, it follows that meaning
also is built on social circumstances, values, criteria, interests, attitudes, and social practices. With a philosophical view on language,
Wittgenstein puts an emphasis on language linked to action and to
meaning. Without being categorical one could say that all activities
and beliefs around an individual are dependent on language and
how words and sentences have been absorbed and retained.
One has to understand an uttered sentence in relation to the
situation and environment when and where it has been expressed.
Evidently, in order to understand the spoken word a listener has to
actually participate in and be present in the context. It is thus that
rhetoric becomes the human being’s option to participate in creating
the world. People both create language and are formed by language.
The same is true of writing. With our writing and speaking we
verbalize our visiting card. We learn our language by listening and
imitating but what we hear we interpret and sometimes keep. In this
way it forms the individual and further it labels us in our behaviour
and generates further utterances. “Language is not a transparent
medium for conveying thought, but actually constructs the world and
the self through the course of its use” (Wetherell & Maybin, 1996,
p. 220). We often have our understanding of a certain phenomenon
from some source we have attended during our visits to the many
environments and contexts that we undergo in life.
From the many environments, that the human being acts in and
is exposed to, he/she often expresses an opinion at second hand. By
20 Truth is a difficult word with many undertones and meanings. In this thesis the reader will discover the world in different contexts. A definition that is valid throughout the thesis is formulated on
p.33. To exemplify the problematic with truth recall the dialog in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: HAMLET:
Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel? POLONIUS: By the mass, and ’tis like
a camel, indeed. HAMLET: Methinks it is like a weasel. POLONIUS: It is backed like a weasel.
HAMLET: Or like a whale? POLONIUS: Very like a whale (Act III, scene II). Polonius not only tries
to please Hamlet he also has a different connotation on what they see.
doing this, the question arises whether what he/she speaks is genuine
or only an answer for the sake of answering.
There are many theories on languages, how human beings use
their native language and how languages are learnt. Chomsky
(2002), in his theories and as a central issue, is firmly convinced
that the human being has a specific and born capacity for languages. When we apply defect elements in the language e.g. hesitations,
wrong pronunciations, memory mistakes, omissions, etc. these elements are dependent on and originate from different systems in our
surroundings. When we use these defect elements the information
received becomes corrupt; it gives the receiver a wrong picture of the
other person’s real view of the world; the view meant. Of course, this
has a problematic effect when analysing talk that has been transcribed. What is and is not the truth?
At WMU, it is a fact that higher level bilingual students sometimes have problems when they express themselves in essay writing
or any written assignment. They have to draw on their whole linguistic repertoire. The dilemma comes when they have to find idiomatic expressions to make their text academic in style. When teaching,
the teacher should consider this dilemma that some students carry
with them, especially when they are asked to write. The teacher will
find that the exploration of the relation between language and the
respective culture/s behind the language is quite cumbersome. In
relation to this, Bourne (1998, p. 57) arises the question “… who
are the knowers in relation to contemporary and changing cultures
and language use”? This is an interesting and relevant question in
this context but perhaps beyond the scope of this thesis.
A correct understanding of words is practically exemplified with
the following: Every year, at WMU, most students have difficulties in
understanding the difference between discuss, explain and describe.
These three words often appear as part of introduction phrases in
assignments and exam questions. The teachers in the English and
Study Skills Programme (ESSP) explain the difference in the meaning
of these three words before the professional courses start, though
the meaning of these three words still remain confusing for many
students. One should add that this problem of semantics and its syntax application is complex both for native and non-native English
speaking students.
Another example from WMU is the student wishing to ship bulk
cargo. The author understood it to be loose cargo like serials, sand,
coal etc. Though, the students expressed a wish to ship a lot of cargo.
A few minutes of valuable time and a lot of words were spoilt. One
can imagine the consequence of such lack of communication if it
appeared in an exam, in the boardroom of a shipping company or at
a cargo broker’s table.
Teachers, therefore, need to be responsive to students’ different
cultures and languages and the change in both; and not forget to
respect identities that come with different social domains. Particularly, it is important to be aware that some spoken sentences and
wordings are conventional and therefore foreseeable. In Fiske (2004),
such sentences are called redundant. However, a message with low
prediction, an entropic message, contains a lot of information. Fiske
also writes that the English language is 50 percent redundant. About
half of the words (but not any words) can be omitted in a message
and still the message is understandable. An increased redundancy
will minimise eventual communication problems in an entropic message. For better understanding, a good teacher is aware of the redundancy phenomenon when addressing the students. Special attention
should be taken of the impact of understanding that this phenomenon has; especially if the speaker has English as a second or foreign
language21. Depending on the student’s culture the teacher should
realise that the students can have another denotation of what was
said than was originally meant. The same occurs when an interpreter is influenced equally by what has been said as the person saying
it; a different connotation.
Paradoxically, the function of language can be a part of and sometimes even a hindrance to social life. Language is not only syntax,
semantics or phonetic rules. Instead, language is seen as “strategies for orienting and manipulating social domains of interaction”
(Mignolo, in von Brömssen, 2003, p. 28, partly author’s translation). This is an additional issue that teachers should pay attention
to when communicating with students.
If language provides the structure and content of our thought,
then in a fundamental way what we say is what we think (Burr,
21 Second language (ESL) and foreign language (EFL) are expressions explained under the heading
“Acronyms and explanations” in the end of this thesis.
1995). This is a universal understanding when interpreting a conversation. It is fundamental when giving an order. If an order is not
repeated the way it is understood (for example the way it has been
anticipated how something should be done) there will be a mistake
if the sender has meant something else. In a course on cultural awareness, the MET teacher therefore must make prospective officers
aware that the connotation could be different. This is of course a
problem when studying a foreign language. In a maritime context
a misunderstanding could end up in death or a very expensive loss.
This is why the English spoken onboard a ship has to be more than
bare basic.
Language varies not only between individuals but so also within
one and the same individual. In the situation of the latter, perhaps,
even more. It is a great challenge to find the reason for a person’s
judgements and way to form an opinion from his or her communication. To judge if a person is communicatively competent it depends
on who makes the judgement. Of course, it can make a paramount
difference when analysing what a person has said. It is an important
skill factor that gives a person the right to speak and analyse/judge
what another person said.
Linguistics resolves the discussion and measurement of speakingvariables such as: accent, rate, intensity, verbal immediacy, powerful
or powerless styles and lexical diversity. Lexical diversity is easy to
measure compared to the other variables. Fiske (2004) concludes
that persons with high lexical diversity are not always considered
to have a more effective communication capacity. On the contrary,
because of their range of vocabulary, they could impose an even bigger threat to safety.
Persons in subaltern positions typically use polite phrases, emphasise, use extra words, hesitate, use direct gestures, make statements followed by a question and use rising intonations. On the
other hand, a language characteristic of power seams to be fluid,
concise, smooth and direct. Some people believe that the style of
language has a bigger impact on social status than e.g. gender. These
observations are important for teachers, ship’s officers and discourse
analysers to be aware of in their various respective positions and
work. In the interviews reported in Paper I and Paper IV the subaltern dilemma has been reduced by an established friendship between
the interviewer and the interviewee.
When judging speech the context is very important. There is both
a social dimension in the sense that the speaker is sympathetic or not
sympathetic to the subject and a competence dimension in the sense
that the speaker has good or bad knowledge of the subject. The
conversations in Paper I and Paper IV are carried out in an office at
the university premises i.e. the environment did not deviate from the
conversation topics. A laboratory study would change the natural
setting of the subject and this could have an impact (probably negative) on the conversation as such. Equally, the students very much
anticipated and looked forward to participating in the research. The
fact that the knowledge of the subject was based on own experiences
and impressions and not knowledge-based added to the appeal. The
participation in the research had no signs of conundrum to the students.
The sound of speech is a non-verbal communication parameter.
Loudness, melody, tempo, intonations, articulation, pronunciation,
hm-sounds, laughter and pauses are all paralinguistic signals. Usually, the voice of the speaker is adapted to the situation. Every person is being placed in a social category based on his or her level
of voice and phrase-melody. The way a person talks, more than
anything else, is the foundation for how others judge that person.
Motluk (2002, p. 34) wrote: “you are what you speak”. Motluk,
a New Scientist reporter, also alerts us that the mother tongue
really does affect the way the world is seen or viewed. This statement underlines the statement of Chomsky: language does matter, in
togetherness with others. Although, a new idea on the importance
of language is that the ability to talk owes more to shared genetics
than varying cultures. Experts in the 21st century being convinced
that our brain is mainly shaped by experience promulgate this statement.
To use expressions that use litotes is not advisable. It confuses to
express oneself with double negatives and the teacher should, for
instance, avoid saying it is not unusual when he or she wishes to say
that it is usual.
From the above it is realised that language has many impact-factors, controllable and uncontrollable, known and unknown, that
require some manoeuvring when being interpreted.
2.2 Constraints in talking and understanding
a foreign language
Despite what has been discussed in the previous chapter, language is
undoubtedly the greatest facilitator of communication. For a number
of reasons English has become the language of the maritime industry. With multilingual crew, mainly coming from the Philippines,
India, China, Indonesia, Poland, Ukraine and lately Russia etc., one
could speculate whether English any longer is the appropriate language at sea. Despite possible arguments to the contrary, surely English
will remain to be the maritime language. As an example of lack of
communication the BIMCO Bulletin (2004, p. 2) reports that in the
past it was possible that a VHF (telephone) conversation could be as
follows: “…. One officer declared intention to an approaching ship
“I’ll leave you to port” was interpreted by the other ship as “I’ll alter
course to port”. The damage was substantial…”.
Like in the examples above the EU contracted MARCOM (1997)22
project gives a number of examples of lack of communication at sea.
Still, almost ten years later, the industry experience constraints in
exchanging information between ships and between ship and shore.
Exchange of messages at sea should follow the recommended IMO
English23 ”but in practice it is not always the case. English speakers
insist on speaking their more complicated colloquial tongue usually
at speed and … with no attempt to ascertain whether there is any
meaningful comprehension” (ibid.).
In a situation of emergency or panic, like when a ship is in
distress, the crew that has been assigned to safety stations must
be able to keep calm and express themselves in a correct manner.
Moreby once launched the famous expression: Everyone panics in
their own language. Misunderstandings in such situations turn out
to be very serious when sailing with a polyglot crew, a multilingual
complement. A recent example is the Scandinavian Star accident, see
chapter 1.3.
In the maritime industry the lack of communication between
ship and shore and between ship and traffic control authorities has
become a problem. Misunderstandings are too frequent and consequences often fatal. One issue of major importance must be to en22 See Acronyms and other explanations.
23 IMO’s Standard Marine Communication Phrases (SMCP) were adopted in November 2001.
The standard is used to avoid misunderstanding and harmonise the vocabulary in shipping.
sure that terminal operators and ship’s crew can make themselves
understood using the English language. The problem lies in pronunciation of the English and correctly applying simple grammar to
make sentences well understood. These observations are rarely confirmed in, for example, casualty and incident reports but commonly
realised by people who actively work in the industry in various positions.
People inside and outside the sphere of shipping easily can get
surprised on how bad the English sometimes is within areas of the
industry where non educated workers are employed; onboard and
ashore. The communication language within the shipping industry
has, for a very long time, been chosen to be English. Britannia was
the ruler of the oceans for a long time and during the time when
other continents were explored. The indigenous were speaking a
different language making it necessary to introduce one common
language – English – in order to be on speaking terms.
In a mixed MET classroom the same situation is prevalent. Students mainly come from the national high school-level in their
respective countries. If that school system has not been able to lift
the English to a level accepted by the STCW-95 the MET institutions
should put a serious effort into raising the level of spoken English24.
One conclusion in the EU project CIIPMET contains a recommendation to the MET institutions in China (in particular) to use nativespeaking English teachers instead of employing Chinese teachers to
teach Chinese seafarers how to pronounce English words.
The level of crew English is conventionally only up to the standard required to manage crisis situations onboard ships. Neither is
the English to such a level that crew of different nationalities can
manage a decent conversation. The two remarks above are, according to existing casualty investigations, mostly applicable to ratings
but to some extent also to officers. The level of English among the
officers is not that bad but what is the use if the other part (the
ratings) onboard cannot communicate back or understand. Again,
the author in Paper V elaborates on this insufficiency that can alienate crew and therefore is a safety risk.
24 STCW-95 requires an English knowledge-level to accommodate the IMO objectives. The level of
English knowledge, that is vaguely specified, has been discussed in various international seminars
and projects. Cole et al (2006) have made an effort to set necessary English requirements and define
methods to assess the students to fulfil the IMO objectives.
2.2.1 Understanding the meaning of spoken sentences
and words
It is generally recognised that often what is said is always not what
is understood. One has to analyse language specifically when analysing the pragmatics of crosscultural communication and therefore
referred to in this thesis.
Fairclough (2003, p. 10) believes that there are three analytically
separable elements in processes of meaning-making: “the production of the text, the text itself, and the reception of the text”. In the
literature one can find a number of philosophies discussing the link
between communication and culture. Fiske (2004) is one of those
who have found an interest in the cultural link to communication.
Language is not an expression of subjectivity instead the language constituent (is a component of) subjectivity (Börjesson, 2003, p.
104, author’s translation and bracket). Subjectivity though becomes
a bit hidden in a number of, often socially, recognised codes and
conducts. Codes are systems of meaning and can be expressed in a
complicated combination of signs, conventions and rules.
The meaning of these codes is built on agreements between the
users of the codes in a group of people having a similar culture. Fiske
(2004) states that the view of our world is equally specific to our culture as the language we use. The types of codes we decide to use are
dependent on existing social relations in a certain context. If a person is not accustomed to the codes, then the conversation would be
difficult to understand because many of the codes or signals we use
while talking are predictable or redundant. The use of codes makes
a person a member of a certain culture. If new codes are introduced
into an existing culture a mixture of codes will be the result; confusion. Until new codes are publicly accepted there is room for misunderstandings. The same happens if a person uses own cultural codes
in another culture, hence lack of communication.
What is real is apparently independent of how people conceptualize the world. In order to include the human aspects of reality,
which varies between cultures since different cultures have different
conceptual systems, one has to study the use of metaphors because
“… metaphor plays a very significant role in determining what is real
for us” (Lakoff and Johnson, 2003, p. 146). From past experiences
it is clear that a human being cannot effectively function in a certain
environment without being able to change it or being changed by it.
This interaction with the environment will lead to an understanding
of the world and this leads to an expressed meaning.
Beside the use of codes and metaphors, teaching in a multicultural
classroom requires insight in the use of proverbs and other modes of
expressions (Lundberg, 1991). This statement becomes important in
understanding student’s assumptions and presumptions25.
To understand the research object/s in a wider perspective and
include as many different environments as possible, even past
environment contents, a better understanding of a person’s world
view could be achieved. For further elaboration on meaning in a
specific environment see discussions with reference to theories by
Bronfenbrenner, in chapter 7.3.3. His theory entails the need to follow a person in more than one environment to understand views and
meanings and furthermore to capture truth. Truth in the meaning of
“… a discover of a deeper meaning than something apparent evident” (Alvesson and Sköldberg, 1994, p. 35, author’s translation).
In crosscultural communication practice has important influences
both on meaning and truth. This could mean that when you ask
someone a question you normally require an answer. Or as expressed by Tannen (1984, p. 190, author’s italic) “… questions are regarded as too powerful to use, because they demand a response”. In
both Paper I and Paper IV the contact with the students is through
a relaxed conversation rather than straight questioning. This is perhaps an observation that should be considered by teachers in the
classroom. Generally, and in certain cultures, it is seen as necessary
for the teacher to ask questions in order to make students learn. Perhaps a relaxed conversation, or discussion, would be a more rewarding teaching method?
2.2.2 Behaviour and its impact on understanding
As a complement to verbal communication people use signs/gestures and dress codes etc. Gestures are equally important as words in
understanding a transmitted message. Some cultures value these signs
very much and without the signs communication can be very difficult
to understand unless you are native or have very good insights into
this non-verbal communication behaviour. An additional difficulty
25 Presumption: with the meaning of assumptions not certain to be truth.
is that social relations in a context govern the use of these codes of
communication. At WMU the social denominator is wide. Students
come from different family status. Some are pure academics and
obtain their income mainly through pen and paper (claims executives, marketing managers, personnel managers, teachers, lawyers
etc.). Other students are genuinely practical (operations managers
in ports, ship surveyors, cargo surveyors, seafarers etc.). Within the
same culture students also have different social status wherein the
codes of communication differ. During the conversations with other
students than the female student referred to in Paper IV, the answer
was generally a no on the question if the teachers adapt their teaching to different cognitive styles. Bearing in mind that there are quite
a number of sociological parameters that have an input on the style
of learning, how can a teacher possibly teach to satisfy the many
variations of learning that exist in a culturally mixed classroom?
During the conversations the interviewer looks and observes
the interviewee. The interpretation of what has been said is naturally “coloured” by gestures given during the conversation. For an
outsider this can be difficult to follow because different languages
and cultures have different interpretations of the same gestures.
During the conversations this might be an interviewer ambiguity
meeting different cultures and languages during one and the same
day. If not mastered well the body language could lead to misunderstandings when interpreting the conversations in Paper I and Paper
IV. Obviously, teachers in multicultural classrooms must adhere to
and be observant of such phenomena. This statement the author
can do after extrapolating from other contexts like from the accidents talked about in chapter 1.3. In Paper III this impact on understanding a conversation is discussed and must be enhanced and emphasised in multicultural awareness courses to teachers. Naturally,
the issue of body language therefore must be an important ingredient in a model course on cultural awareness.
Lundberg (1991) stresses that empathy is a very important factor
when establishing mutual good behaviour, between people representing different cultures. When showing empathy communication
becomes progressive. At WMU the students are often ready to help
each other though sometimes at a reserved distance. You don’t ask
just anyone for help. Normally, first you contact somebody speaking
the same language.
In the same way as people can be bilingual they can also be bicultural. Bilingualism and bi-culturalism (the two human bi’s) easily
can make the work of a teacher a real challenge. To give a firm rule
on how the teacher, or anyone, can handle the two bi’s is impossible. It is impossible because too many variables are at stake! Most
probably, a certain element of a teacher’s trial and error will always
be there. In this thesis, it is discussed that, at least, it is possible to
minimise such problems in order to have smoother and less controversial sessions in class. Many years on the rostrum have made a few
teachers skilful in handling this mixed challenge of languages and
cultures. Therefore, it is important to benchmark and learn from
others having similar challenges.
3.1 Mono- versus multicultural student bodies
In general, we wish to be able to have an output from an institutional multicultural system that does not differ from the monocultural
system, as practised in the Western/European world. Apparently,
there are constraints in making this possible. Why is that so? Why
does it not come natural to have a system that does not aim to stress
functionalism, profit and individualism but as Tesfahuney (1999)
notes: a focus on egalité, justice and universalism, in its genuine
meaning, with a strong impact on wisdom and mutual recognition?
To get clarification on this problem a short résumé is needed to
tell where we are and what we have in a western education system; a system often declared to be the leading system of education.
One could question if it is or even should be so. Reading Roald’s
Tarbiya one cannot avoid being impressed on the methods of teaching used by the mullahs in the mosque.
According to Tesfahuney (ibid., author’s translation) a monocultural education is white, male dominated and Western. In other words
it is Eurocentric and excluding. This education system with its pedagogic, teaching ideal, norms for examination, qualitative substance,
teaching material etc. is founded on ideas formed during the Age of
Enlightenment. A period in history founded in “sexist, racial and
elitist surroundings and also its non-universal view on life” (ibid.,
p. 12). JanMohamed, ranked to be among the most significant postcolonial scholars, has written that during this epoch the method of
organising knowledge and one’s world was done by different and
exchangeable dichotomies: ego/others, subject/object, rational/sensual, intelligence/feelings, white/black, good/evil, civilisation/barbaric, upstairs/downstairs etc. By arranging life like this everything is
where it should be and there is a place for everything. Von Linné’s
sexual system of the flora is an example of such a systematisation of
life. The prime ideals of the Age of Enlightenment, universalism and
humanism, were found to be totally different. Europe was made the
centre for imagination, creativity and discovery contrary to Africa,
America and Asia that were seen as synonymous with lack of common sense, innovation and abstract thinking. Europe saw itself as
having a mission to civilise the rest of the world. When Hume talked
about civilisation it was a civilisation pivoting on European civilisation. According to Tesfahuney, the foundation of western education
is based on and influenced by a ‘black-out’ educational philosophy.
To a certain extent, in some places, it still is.
Racism had its roots during the days of the Age of Enlightenment
when the Roman Catholic Church in the West became a leading initiator. With the cross and the sword in each hand they impelled the
indigenous peoples to pursue what was spoken from the pulpit.
After Livingstone’s explorations the characteristics of races
became a distinct rooted reality in western thinking. Famous men
like Kant, Hegel, Hume and von Linné all wrote racial texts. In our
time the racial epic has been modified to be an issue of cultures and
nations. Tesfahuney and others identify the culturing of racism: culture racism.
This development and history is nothing new in world history.
The Chinese once thought they were number one, de i26. After years
of strong leadership came a standstill when the rulers lived on old
victories and the enemy came and their victory was an easy task.
In China communism entered the political arena and there was no
real time to surrender. The nation kept its hegemony and looked
down on those not believing in communism. The Greeks had a similar history; when they started to live on a glorious past history the
Romans came. A comparable historical development happened to
the Romans, the Incas and indeed with the Jews, the chosen people.
With the success of a state follows a mixture of the indigenous
with other people moving in and looking for part of the profits.
Sometimes the successful state wishes foreigners to come to help
keep up the turning of the wheels. This is where many shipping
nations are today. A difference to the past is perhaps the amalgamation with the non-natives. Today’s “forced” efforts to mix people
coming from different cultures, and mixing in general, integration, is
perhaps doomed to be a mistake. How otherwise can it be explained
that some shipowners, (JO Tankers, Paper V, p. 28) decide to avoid
diversity and return to a homogenous crew complement? Perhaps, a
cultural mixture can survive temporarily if decided not to be a static
state. One example on temporality is the world of education where
students come and go and the turnaround time is short. Research is
needed on this problem.
Evidently, there is and has to be a state of affairs of them and us.
Even if so, could it be reasonable to speculate about this label multiculturalism? In education, perhaps, one has to have a faculty policy
on the system and run the programme accordingly? Perhaps, rules
for a common learning environment can be constructed. If this can
be passed on from generation to generation, a stabilised norm could
be founded. The educational system then would become the carrier
and can emphasise the symbols that are associated with the common
system, (see further in chapters 3.2 and 9.1.5).
26 de i is Chinese and means number one.
Kant pointed out that it is by excluding and suppressing alternative ways of obtaining knowledge about the world, by characterising
them as “non-scientific”, that the old system keeps its hegemony.
Instead of emphasising we/them, subject/object, culture/nature,
modern/primitive etc. education should qualitatively underline what
is common and derive its philosophy from similarities, links, influences and reciprocity between people and cultures instead of separating and creating/identifying differences. During the days before
Kant everything non-scientific was either trusted or valid. “With
Kant, the modern age is inaugurated, says Habermas” (Flyvberg,
2001, p. 89). Tesfahuney emphasises that a modern age is needed
where profit should not be the goal of education. A real multicultural education should not be elitist nor divisive but open for different perspectives. With this in mind the opportunities with diversity
will perhaps be recognised. History can tell about the conditions
when practising the opposite. It works, but the methods of Caligula,
segregation etc. certainly clashes with modern ideals of cooperation
and integration.
Lahdenperä (1997, p. 7) has expressed a more modern definition of a multicultural person: “… both one (or several) indigenous
culture/s and one contextual culture”. The contextual culture is the
“new” culture that a person has attained in a social context through
communication and interaction with different persons.
On the other hand, there are those who believe that “real” individual and social harmony is dependent upon the fact that every
individual, on earth, has to realise that they are carriers of their own
culture that cannot be rubbed out or changed; it is firmly rooted.
Because of this “all humans carry a fear of foreigners” (Ljungberg,
2005, p. 185, author’s translation). Humans, by nature, are believed
to be xenophobic; Homo xenophobicus. With this belief it becomes
understandable that some shipowners realise that a crew works better if it has a homogeneous composition as discussed and exemplified in Paper V. It is a sad development. More research is needed to
verify this statement. The industry should be given adequate information and facts rather than have expensive trial and errors that
expose lives, ships, cargo and environment to risks. Perhaps, a different approach to conduct research can give the industry a sustainable answer to the pros and cons of diversity in shipping and in the
3.2 Institution policy on teaching
Malik, a broadcaster, lecturer and the author of Man, Beast and
Zombie, argues that “there is a dangerous ambiguity at the heart of
multicultural thinking because of the emphasis on DIFFERENCE”
(Bourne, 1998, p.58). The difference gives the racists the main argument for their existence. “By emphasising differences rather than
equality, anti-racists are rooting their arguments in the same philosophies as gave rise to racial thinking itself” (ibid., p. 58). Malik
also warns us that there is a risk that in multicultural work we often
overestimate the homogeneity and autonomy of different ethnic
groups at the same time underestimating the extent to which groups
claim and feel the same in creating a common cultural framework.
Ethnic groups and cultures are not static neither monolithic but
“fluid” (ibid., p. 59). It would not be wrong to say that often it is a
day-to-day affair collectively generated.
In a multicultural classroom the students would adapt to the “system” that prevails in the host country. Obviously, in the classroom
it is not self-evident how to handle many cultural differences at the
same time. Luckily, by nature the human being is very flexible. If this
is correct, all identities should be hybrid and this hybridism should
be the norm and a matter of fact. Bourne quotes Hall (ibid., p. 59):
Everywhere, cultural identities are emerging which are not fixed, but poised, in transition between different positions; which
draw on different cultural traditions at the same time; and which
are the product of those complicated cross-overs and cultural
mixed which are increasingly common in the globalised world.
Learning is best when the students in advance know and follow a
published learning and teaching policy of the institution where they
are going to study. It will not be better if the students try to follow the learning policy of a specific country or society. From this
statement it follows that schools, universities and MET institutions
have to promulgate their policy on pedagogy (predominant teaching
style) in order for enrolled students to know what is expected from
them. It should not be an ad hoc apparition or a student trial and
error experience.
3.3 Previous research on multicultural classes
It has not been possible to find any research study on teachers’ and
students’ challenges in a culturally mixed maritime classroom; not
in any classroom composition except simulator training. During a
number of committee meetings the International Maritime Lecturers
Association (IMLA) has discussed the mixed concept and its application onboard ships. It is only in the last decade that the use of mixed
crew complements and culturally mixed classrooms has become a
dilemma. Moreby (1981, p. 48) wrote on multicultural environments in the 1990s and his concern was focused on the impact onboard
ships. He foresaw the industry pursuing the following in 2006: “…
the new manning systems must reflect emerging social values”, “…
European nautical training will be based on advanced and very costly
simulators while training in the tropical countries may continue to
be given in traditional forms”, “… all point to a fundamentally different way of manning ships”, “… In free-flag ships, manned by
people from tropical countries, the manning system will be much
as it is today”. This serves to show a view of seafarers, ship manning and maritime education from 25 years ago. The prediction is
fairly close to the ways things are. A big difference is that tropical
countries are also required to have high standards in international
trade because of the requirements in STCW-95.
Taking note that there are no studies on a mixed maritime education classroom one can argue that a maritime multicultural classroom context is not significantly different to any other classroom
where vocational training is conducted. Experience from non-maritime studies, with right, can be extrapolated to a maritime classroom. The difference between type of education and type of students
might not be very big. One could also assume it is the opposite or
at least a different milieu in the MET classroom. Did the seafarers
take onboard a stereotyping to the better or to the worse for positive
studying in a multicultural classroom?
Apparently, a situation has been reached, in educating aspiring seafarers (ratings and officers) with an economy of scale and increased
globalisation of the industry, where the industry is not fully prepared. Moreby did not foresee this dilemma. Apparently, nobody
has studied this phenomenon and its impact on MET. Many MET
institutions have students of all ages and more and more have students with significantly different cultural beliefs, norms and practices.
It is realised that before a student enrols in an institution of higher learning he/she should know what policy the institution has on
teaching practice. In this way the student, in good time, can prepare
for the pedagogy he/she will encounter. Naturally, it follows from
such a declaration that the teachers working at the institution have
to adapt to the policy in their contact with students. If every teacher
teaches in the way he or she has been taught, perhaps, it can be too
diffi cult for the students to take onboard.
This research concludes, similarly to the findings of Wu (2002,
p. 390), who found that foreign students often are puzzled when
encountering a teaching style they are not used to. She writes “…
not only each nation, but individual institutions within the country,
sometimes in the same town, might have a different ethos of learning
and teaching, structure and participation, expectations, duties and
obligations of pedagogy”. If the situation at WMU was different to
this, many students would adapt and the period of less encouraging
results would be shorter. The student in Paper IV would then perhaps
be more inclined to interrupt the lecturer when there were unclear
conceptions and be more alert during group work activities. At the
same time, one should bear in mind that the teaching would be very
boring if there was no difference in approaches to teaching. This
opinion is demonstrated in the excerpt27 in chapter 9.1.3. Normally
the students like to discuss and the classroom is filled with voices.
Among the loud voices there are many silent students; too many.
27 Excerpt is an expression used instead of example and thereby underlining that the exposed
conversation contains words and expressions that have not been subject to interpretation and are
extracted from a great number of transcriptions.
Before enrolling, the students should be aware what is expected
from them and the theories of learning they will be exposed to (see
also chapters 4.3 and 7.5). Just to mention the extreme alternatives:
1) is the institution emphasising discussions, self studies, group work
linked to common activities like field studies with an aim of fostering
managerial decisions in cooperation? or 2) is the teaching structured
as in many non-Western educational institutions where the teacher
is lecturing and the students memorizing what has been said by the
“guru” and where the power distance is great? Under the latter a
student’s self-orientation, in a specific area, is reduced to words from
the rostrum. A crucial difference between the two systems, 1) and
2), is the power distance between students and teachers and between
Hofstede (1997) has presented the concept of power distance. His
conclusions are based on studies of personnel working worldwide for
IBM (International Business Machines). Power distance is further discussed in paragraph 4.3. A relevant question is whether the Hofstede
conclusions also are related to seafarers.
4.1 Differences and similarities
Globally, the shipping industry is considered to be a workplace for
many nationalities. This statement is correct except for countries
still having a strong labour union demanding that the national fleet
should be manned (at least the Captain) with nationals, with people
registered in the same country as the ship’s flag. Within the EU soon
there will be an agreement that any EU Captain should be able to
sign on a ship with any EU flag provided the Captain manages the
ship’s working language. An exception might be made for passenger
ships where it is crucial for the Master to manage the command
language of the majority of the passengers, especially in crisis situations. The EU marine environment commission wishes to abolish
all demands on nationality for officers in national merchant ships.
This would be a command that will raise feelings (Nilsson, 2006). In
chapter 5.4 this issue is further discussed.
In Europe the seafarer has become an alien species (an expression
by Lord Kinnock, the EU Shipping Minister 1995-2004). For many
young Europeans there are many land-based work possibilities more
attractive than the shipping cluster. According to an article from
SIRC, the profile of EU seafarers is not encouraging. EU nationals
represent 15 percent of the world’s total fleet (Wu and Veiga, 2004).
The SIRC study concludes that 62 percent of European shipowners
use the flag of EU member states. With the expansion of the EU and
with countries such as Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states perhaps
these nationals will constitute a supply region of European seafarers on EU-registered ships. The cultural challenge comes with the
fact that “Of all seafarers sailing in the EU fleet, 28 percent are EU
nationals and 72 percent non-EU” (ibid., p. 25). From these figures it
follows that three quarters of the total crew on EU ships need knowledge in cultural awareness and in some cases a better knowledge
of the English language. About one quarter of the total crew on EU
ships mainly serve as officers that certainly need cultural awareness
training to be able to give good management to the crew from nonEU countries (and also to seafarers within the EU). This awareness
training should be delivered at MET institutions and by experienced
MET teachers. Contrary to the above scenario is the alternative that
when governments, particularly in EU countries and some Asian
countries, start to make it economically feasible for their shipowners
to sign on homebrewed officers and ratings. If not, urgently the MET
must offer educational programmes in cultural awareness.
To be culturally competent requires cultural knowledge. With such
knowledge follows empowerment. Not only teachers should have
this knowledge but also the students, aspiring seafarers, should learn
to know other cultures. “They should learn to see their own culture as part of the cultural whole … accepting diversity, tolerance
…” (Pitkänen, 1998, p. 43). After many years of history people in
different parts of the world have built what they realise to be their
best way of living and surviving. Therefore, value- and norm systems
have become differentiated. At the same time it should be realised
that there are no universal standards for values and norms. It must
also be considered a serious impossibility for an individual to categorise him/herself as realist, on this issue, by saying that all behaviour and opinions are accepted because then that person should also
accept intolerance and this is perhaps not the idea behind practising
multicultural understanding. Humans should be pluralistic in mind,
meaning that we accept cultural diversity. But as outlined in Paper V
the shipping industry appears to hesitate on a mixed crew comple-
ment. A growing view is that a homogenous cohesive crew will have
fewer problems. Apparently the shipping world is not mature enough
to challenge a cultural mixture. Because of the constructed human
respect for the unknown and an additional blessed successfactor, the
inherited human sense for curiosity, the human being can be educated
and receive cultural awareness, see further in chapter 4.1.2.
4.1.1 Reciprocal thinking and stereotyping
Through education and culture most people have achieved a stereotypic image. People also absorb a prejudiced attitude towards other
people in other countries than their own through movies, newspapers, gossips, advertisements and other media. These ethnocentric
images are generally difficult to change. Lahdenperä (1995) writes
that from an impact alone of attitudes and values it is impossible to
make someone free from prejudice. The reason for this difficulty is
that these attitudes are deeply rooted in our feelings, sympathies and
dislikes. An impact is needed on several levels of a person’s personality i.e. “…in our apprehension of self, behaviour, roles, attitudes
and values. To achieve a free-of-prejudice goal a longer time process is needed” (ibid., p. 68, author’s translation). As pointed out
in Paper IV, the female student still keeps her culture but the Swedish environment has made her somewhat acclimatised to a western
behaviour as shown by the way she interrupts an elder or senior.
This is something contrary to her indigenous behaviour. A short field
trip to another culture will not be long enough to obtain a genuine
change but it can give the individual an opportunity of developing
reciprocal thinking (an ability to enter into the spirit of something
or being able to treat someone with mutual respect). During MET
lecture hours this human aptitude could be passed on to students.
The facility of reciprocity is needed in order to be able to make own
judgements and have an opinion of culturally groupings. A prerequisite for a reciprocal mind is to have experienced a positive encounter
of the other and be able to see similarities between ones own and
another’s culture. In order to act in a reciprocal way a person needs
to understand another person’s situation, see also Paper I. According
to Lahdenperä it means to understand both with a cognitive and
an affective approach and with a certain level of spirit and effort;
mutual treatment and respect. Reciprocal thinking fosters students
to think critically and not to take anything for granted.
In order to prevent stereotyping Sahlin (in ibid. pp. 69-70, author’s
translation) has listed eight points to bestow reciprocal thinking:
To live and work in a comfort environment where everybody
dare express and discuss different opinions and problems
To meet [sic.] a positive contact with persons from a different
ethnic group
Discover communalities and then accept differences
To see positive virtues/qualities in other individuals and groups
To experience attentiveness and acceptance from others
To be aware of ones own self; how to categorise and generalise
Get stimuli from other peoples roles and angles of approach
Increased knowledge of other countries and ethnic groups
When dealing with the issues summarised above, a pedagogic point
should be to underline the impact of feelings and empathy and have
issues such as content of knowledge and critical thinking come
second. Lahdenperä also emphasises that in achieving reciprocal
thinking both a life experience of the other is needed and cognitive explanations for situations experienced. Often, the latter can
be passed on from persons who have a double culture competence.
An advantage with such additional knowledge perhaps sounds paradoxical, but such a person also gains a perspective on his/her own
culture and with this he/she is able to reflect and realize a deeper
cultural insight. It is like the fish that does not realise its breathing
capacity in water until it tries to take breaths in air. A visitor meeting
people from other cultures on their playing field makes him or her
better aware of self. One’s own generalisations and prejudices will
be verified. It is by being confronted by a reality not expected that
awareness is nurtured.
Therefore, teachers ought to be careful to judge quickly and certainly not insensitively criticise a student’s judgements, values, speculations and questions. Instead, it is recommended that teachers
adopt an open attitude to speculations and reflections on different
Normally, humour is a good remedy for handling complicated conflicts/situations like when students start to become antagonistic and
the teacher can be subject to aggression. At WMU and also from both
Paper I and Paper IV any type of antagonism, so far, has been nonexistent. Usually, the students are not present in large numbers from
the same country albeit to group is a very common phenomenon.
Horck (2001) concluded that when students number more than five
persons from the same country, with the same language, by means of
the same culture etc. group tendencies, without doubt, are established
as sure as faith.
Semiotic interpretations usually focus on literature; we are engaged in them all the time. ”You have to know the semiotics of the
boss’s clothes: a dark tie means he is in a bad mood, a light coloured
tie means he is happy and an open collar means he is relaxed enough
to discuss a raise with you” (Herlitz 1999, p. 100). These types of
interpretations vary with different cultures. One can easily realise
that misunderstandings are at hand unless we have learnt to observe
habits like in the above example. To sneeze in a green handkerchief
can be very insulting to a Libyan. Green is the colour of the Libyan
flag and symbolises good in Islam. There are a number of books
discussing such issues. At least for the Swedes, the book written by
Herlitz is used by embassy staff, business managers, UN soldiers etc.
before taking up an assignment abroad. It is suggested in Paper V
that also seafarers gain cultural awareness before signing on instead
of learning the hard way and create a hazard on the ship. This education should be included as a mandatory component in the MET
programme and not be an additional course that the shipowners have
to pay for in order to make the crew alert and aware on this issue.
Generally it should be left to flag administrations and governments,
pro shipping governments, to solve education and crewing problems,
not the shipping industry.
4.1.2 Cultural awareness learning – blending
“The aim of multicultural education is to confront with a critical
mind, cultural habits and values, to be free from dependencies that
restrict the human growth and intercultural dialogue where sensibleness and validity of different life forms are being judged and examined” (Pitkänen, 1998, p. 45). The main point with this education,
like in any education, is to change the meaning perspective of the
student. Thus, to develop the capability of critical thinking is an
important part of cultural competence when practised in a cultur-
ally pluralistic society. In this process a re-evaluation of ones own
culture emerges. People have a need and right to judge values based
on knowledge obtained through their own sources. When our goals
are not reached, as we planned, we can either change the goal itself
or change the external conditions that are obstacle to reaching our
objectives. At the same time we have to adjust our own aspirations,
our own goals, to match or partly match the interests of people
around us. Apparently, in the western hemisphere there is a long
ethical tradition of coping with conflict of interests. In a pluralistic
society the situation is different. In many situations e.g. Muslims and
Christians have significantly different views, even on what could be
described as elementary issues. Though, consideration and silence
must not be understood as the same as compliance.
Apparently, there are many constraints in facilitating learning
about cultures. The obstacles are many and crucial to overcome. If
culture learning is not included in the curricula at the MET institutions and professionally taught, it is a common fact that the general
education can be a mechanism of social exclusion. “The main reason
for multicultural learning is to obtain a profound insight into oneself
by obtaining a certain amount of ability to see from others and other
cultural perspectives” (Banks, in Ljungberg, 2005, p. 110, author’s
translation); an understanding of own identity. The pedagogy, in
other words, becomes the way we learn to think about ourselves in
relation to the world. The first thing that a person should do who
feels outmanoeuvred because of racial arguments is to carry out a
good self study on her/his own culture. In the conclusion on cultural
awareness education, it should be emphasised that there is no absolute correct way to live and with this follows room for tolerance,
respect and understanding (Ljungberg, 2005).
Education in multiculturalism must be pluralistic rather than relativistic. Students would be better equipped to understand problemsolving results based on cultural practices and to give equally good
solutions to the same problem. The road to the solution would be
different but the result would still have equal value. From a student’s
egoistic viewpoint it becomes evident that his or her limits in thinking could be discovered/realised. The student’s education has then
become not only international but also transcultural.
In general, blending is a hazard because you do not know the constituent/composition of the new whole, resulting from its many parts.
But in this situation as long as we know the various cultures that
we have blended into our new way of thinking it can be nothing
but beneficial. This is contrary to, for instance, blending different
constituent known coals, from different sources in the world, being
transported as “blended coal” – a very dangerous mixture because
the constituent of the blend is often not known; a trade hazard. If
the blend of the crew is not known there is also a hazard; a doublehazardous ship.
An employer in any work would like to have workers or employees
that are creative, not creative in isolation but in groups. Life onboard
a modern ship is typically a group work effort. To incorporate such
competences as group work in the MET is therefore important. Von
Wright (2000, p. 11, authors translation) found in her group seminars
an important point as stated in her forward “… diversity and multitudinous attendance are a prerequisite to change and creativeness”.
From a diversified assorted group (culturally and gender mixed) it is
expected to grow new ideas and challenges to the benefit of the whole
that the members are working for.
4.2 Cognitive styles; a student’s challenge
The approach that students use to learn varies depending from
which country and culture the student comes. Religion, social system, family and social background etc. have an impact on the learning of concepts as well.
Two major, diametrically different learning systems can be identified: 1) students, who wish to be told, by the teacher, what is fact and
what is correct. The teacher is seen as a “guru”. The student needs
a precise answer to any fact, query or problem solution. This statement becomes very apparent in Paper IV. The students do their best
to memorize what the teacher has told. The opposite is 2) students
who wish to discuss and do not hesitate to question openly what the
teacher is saying. Students may query from where the teacher has
obtained facts passed on to the addressees. The teacher is not believed unquestionably. The teacher is not a “guru”. Discussions often
lead the students to good and consensus on a given problem. This is
demonstrated in Paper I though it is found that female students tend
to take a back seat during the major part of a discussion. At the end
of the discussion session the ladies normally voice their opinion and
put the rest of the team members back on an upright keel.
When a teacher practises the second system it makes some students feel a bit non-participatory in class; particularly, if the students are used to be taught by a “guru”. Students who are used to
primarily listening become disturbed or lose the logical sequence of
the lecture if somebody interrupts the teacher. This, in particular,
is the case if the questions are not really focused on the subject or
when it is apparent that later in the lecture the teacher will bring up
the issue that one student wishes to discuss in advance. Sometimes
it happens that the students do not understand the teacher because
of teacher’s bad English; bad in the sense that the teacher’s pronunciation, articulation or dialect is unfamiliar. Seldom or never, is a
WMU teacher interrupted because of a student not understanding
the spoken words from a teacher.
The issue of student assessment becomes problematic when the
class hours are focused on discussions and the students are silent
in class. One student conveys in Paper IV that she feels negatively
judged because of her silence in class. The silence emanates from
shyness that mainly is culturally conditioned. As discussed in Paper
I, part of a solution to make everybody participate more actively in
discussions requires the teacher to carefully consider the composition
of the groups. Group composition should involve a consideration of
the number of students, their age and gender. Group compositions
should also alter because this will give the students a chance to learn
to know each other. Groupwork provides disciplined, organised and
structured conditions.
The reason for students’ reluctance to group, after class, could
be explained by a heavy academic workload, shyness or difficulties
to realise the multitude of positive aspects that come with human
diversity. After class, many go to their rooms and then it is “me
and my four walls” as one WMU student expressed her situation
(Horck, 2002).
In situations that appear similar, an individual as well as people
in a group act very much in their own way. It can be assumed that
the teacher conducts the teaching in his or her personal way and
consequently the students try to catch knowledge by following the
teacher’s logic in presenting. A good student should self-critically
ask himself/herself how do I receive new information and later he/
she should be able to verify what has been understood with what has
been taught and hopefully receive good marks. In order to achieve
this, together with the teacher, the content, working conditions and
the physical environment have to be agreed upon or defined by
students and teacher. Logically, after settling these issues it follows
that the question of finding the method of teaching (pedagogy); a
convenient pedagogic method that the student is happy with. Here
comes the obstacle. The question of pedagogy cannot be treated as
a question of methods independent of the relation to results. The
problem is that “… there is no fixed relation between such prefabricated general methods and result” (Svensson, 2004, p. 15, author’s
translation). Svensson puts in writing that method is dependent on
context. Every individual has his own relation to his or her world
and this also implies with the learning environment. It is the learner’s
activity in relation to the learning environment that makes the result.
Therefore, one can draw the conclusion that there is no direct link
between method and result. In addition, different methods have different meanings for different students. Logically, the meanings differ
more if students come from different cultures than the western culture from where most teachers teaching in Europe and also at WMU,
including visiting professors, originate. At the beginning of 2006
the following countries were represented in the permanent WMU
faculty: China, Denmark, England, France, Germany, India, Iran,
Japan, Philippines, Sweden, USA and Åland. Imagine the constraints
with the many learners’ cultures (culturally inherited cognitive styles) and the many teachers (culturally labelled pedagogy methods).
A student’s academic result is the result of an interaction between
student and teacher, where the student has to take advantage of the
study environment in order to get the good marks. As can be noticed
in both Paper I and Paper IV, non-direct teaching activities in class
can sometimes be disturbing to certain students. This is a cultureoriented phenomenon. If class activities were assessed perhaps more
students would be active during coursework etc. If students took
each other’s different cognitive styles into consideration, when being
active in class, probably more students would participate and not
take a back seat. In order to achieve better class participation the
students need lectures in cultural awareness. After this lectures the
students that otherwise feel that they are not fairly assessed probably will gain confidence. Eventual positive effects of diversity will
become evident.
Beside the discussion on classroom activities, group work etc.
and the assessment of such learning activities is the problematic of
students answering exam questions. For many students it becomes
a struggle to find the right vocabulary accepted in higher studies.
Linked to such challenges and efforts falls back on the recruiting
of students to higher studies. The higher the entry levels of written
and spoken English and computer literacy the less of such dilemmas
for students and teachers. Of course, a different, but still a relevant
issue to above is how much such higher skills can contribute to safer
shipping, cleaner oceans and secure shipping.
4.3 Pedagogy; a teacher’s challenge
Learning and teaching, two components in search of knowledge, are
activities linked to culture in the same way as many other activities
in a person’s social world. An interesting challenge appears when the
teacher has to decide what pedagogic system/s should be practised in
the classroom where students have different cultures and come from
several ethnic areas of the world; a mixed classroom.
Obviously, it appears not to be practical for the teacher to use
his overriding culture of pedagogy, especially not if the educational institution is staffed with teachers from different parts of the
world. At WMU about 35 percent of the permanent teaching staff
is non-Western. It is neither suitable to practise the host country’s
pedagogic system (if it is logical to define teaching like this) nor any
of the students’ teaching systems. It is bound to be confusing both to
students and teachers. Normally, and for the big majority of WMU
students, the standard academic programme is 17 months. Perhaps,
this length is too short for a student to be able to adapt to a mixture
of teaching styles that he/she is not used to.
“It is possible to ascertain that there are relatively big differences
between the student approaches to knowledge and learning when
they start the course” Jakobsson (2006, p. 400). This statement is
also relevant for WMU students. Jakobsson (ibid.) finds that “…
students have or are in the process of developing a collaborate com-
petence … they are able to see the advantages in using dialogues as
an important learning source”. It must be the teacher’s role to make
it possible for students to be aware of the fantastic advantages of collaboration. The students at WMU are not competing which makes it
easier for them to adapt to collaborative learning methods. Partly, a
teacher’s effort must be to train the students to develop their epistemological understanding; how they really learn and understand.
If an optimal learning curve is to be achieved, it is the teacher’s
skill to blend different teaching systems to suit different cognitive
styles. To increase the varieties of imparting information, classroom
activities become important. At WMU this is sometimes practised
but according to the students in Paper I classroom performance is
not considered in the assessment of the students. To assess classroom
activities would increase student’s motivation to actively contribute
to discussions. Students like to discuss and present and listen to
colleague’s ideas and experiences. A grade structure solemnly based
on written exams and assignments excludes the debate hungry students better skilled in talking than in writing. This is a problem in
the MET because as stated in Paper III, the possibilities are high
that many non-professional educators, for instance in the EU, that
do not yet have pedagogic training and for sure have no, or very
little, culture awareness knowledge28. The author further argues that
port state controllers and flag state inspectors and vetting inspectors
should have an understanding of cultural awareness because a survey in general should not only be to criticise and find faults but to
bring up and explain rules and regulations in a pedagogic way.
There are no general and formulated set of rules or recommendations on how to teach to get a good return on a teacher’s efforts
or efforts together with the student. Part of success is that teachers
should not regard the students as the other in relation to their own
culture. Bourne (1998, p. 59) writes that “… we need to examine
critically the social construction of national group identity …”.
It would mean that there is a lot more research to do in order to
achieve full understanding of how to tackle these challenges.
28 During 2006, the Swedish newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet have published several articles
making the readers aware of the high number of teachers in the compulsory school that do not have
passed the teachers’ college.
It has been noted that diversity and heterogeneity of people, within
the same country, is usually quickly perceived. Bourne concludes
“… the myth of an essential national character acts as a device to
exclude newer cultural groupings…” (ibid.). If it works like this on
a national scale perhaps the classroom culture develops in the same
How to achieve maximum learning has been studied for different
age groups considering a number of factors. Factors having a major
impact have been identified. Factors that appear to be universal are
the following as identified by Scheerens (in Bourne, 1998, p. 60):
“… order, security, structured teaching and high expectations”. The
differences in outcome have been explained by diverse groupings of
students. What should be looked into is if a better explanation for
performance could be found, in e.g., differences in ethnicity, gender,
social class etc. Quite possibly it will not be an easy task to find the
differences but learning and teaching institutions should, in their
goals and objectives, still mirror their teaching efforts in order for
students, as discussed in Paper I, not to be puzzled by the teaching
practices in the beginning of their studies.
MET teachers, today and probably even more in the future, must
learn to be comfortable with diversity. This means that teachers
should not be afraid of applying a non-formal pedagogy especially
when addressing adult students and students from a blend of ethnic
backgrounds. Einstein once said that when you are exposed to challenges then imagination is more important than knowledge. Taking
this sentence further it would mean that any human being, in any
context, learns well if the teacher varies the teaching style. The reader
might remember Svensson’s statement on method and content and
the student’s answer on seating preferences (a context parameter)
in chapter 4.2. Svensson’s statement is correct in the western world
but perhaps not in other cultures. If the teacher, in front of the students, admits that he does not have an answer to a student’s question
but replies that he will answer at the next contact with the class
his behaviour will challenge his authority as a teacher. Perhaps, his
entire existence as a human being is put at risk; he will lose face.
There are multicultural institutions around the world that have
an ethnic mixture of students and teachers and most probably they
will increase in number. The institutions are labelled multicultural
because the students and/or the teachers are from different cultures.
The “challenge” is that the teachers teaching in these institutions
principally teach according to the system they are used to in their
home countries. Logically, if an institution is multicultural then the
pedagogic content should be set bearing this in mind. An institution
that has adapted to this situation i.e. adapted assessment policies,
teaching material, pedagogy etc. in an effort to reflect its multiculturalism is liable to register a better learning average. The fact is
that teaching in multicultural settings, in most institutions, still has
not been developed to perfection. The concept is still fairly new, at
least in MET. At the turn of the century and from a multicultural
perspective, Bourne (1998) and other scholars believe that teaching
and learning knowledge still is in its infancy.
Teachers, active in multicultural institutions, usually have to learn
how to recognise the challenges with a mixed student body the hard
way and after many years on the rostrum. Naturally, an interesting
bank of knowledge, an unconscious teacher competence, would be
of value to pass on to aspiring teachers and to active teachers at
multicultural institutions.
A recent study in Sweden concludes that cultural awareness and
cultural sensitivity need to be enhanced in schools where there is a
cultural mix. In order to educate in a culturally mixed classroom,
the report concludes that there is a demand for the following issues
to be taken into consideration (Drakenberg et al., 2006):
a) Smaller class sizes
b) Effective program on reading instruction in different languages
c) Clearly and explicitly articulated program goals
d) Fully qualified teachers in every class room
e) Knowledgeable and solid leadership and management
f) Positive relations between persons involved
g) Adequate instruction class rooms
h) Valid and reliable assessment instruments
These issues are found to be the fact from classes with children
but are recognized to be valid independent the students’ age29 and
therefore relevant also for grownups, like the WMU student body.
29 Also to use Bronfenbrenner’s theories on grownups has been verified by Drakenberg (personal
communication, September 2006.
Above eight issues have not really been looked into in any of the
papers included in this thesis. However, the first and last items (a and
h) have been touched upon. It is evident that some classes are too big
(more than 16 students) and assessment procedures are discussed
both in Paper I and in Paper IV. At WMU there have been classes of
up to 30 students with almost as many nationalities. The course on
General Maritime Administration 1986 (GMA-96) had 31 students
from 20 nationalities (Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Barbados, China,
Comoros, Cuba, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jordan, Mauritius, Philippines, Rep. of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka,
Thailand, Togo and Trinidad and Tobago). According to this study
and the example, that is extreme but not unique, it shows that there
sometimes can be too many students in the same class. When field
studies are part of the curricula too many students in a class makes
the outcome less positive. The reason being that all participants cannot see and hear what the host presenters are demonstrating and
saying30. This becomes even more important when students are visiting ships, ports, maritime manufacturers etc. bearing in mind the
safety aspects. Another negative factor with large class sizes is that it
hampers communicative teaching.
Knowledge of cultural conceptions and limitations cannot be
obtained in a strictly cognitive approach. Papers I-V and this thesis
are an awakening of the need for teachers to obtain knowledge of
cultural awareness and in its extension it will have a positive role
in both ship safety and social welfare of the crew. The entire global
maritime community needs this awakening.
Hofstede (1997) studied pedagogic differences between countries
with small and large power distance. The characteristics of small
power distance are, e.g., that teachers expect initiatives from students in class and students treat teachers as equals. Large power
distance means that teachers are expected to take all initiatives;
teachers are “gurus” who transfer personal wisdom and students
treat teachers with high respect. Hofstede also divides people coming
from countries with weak and strong uncertainty avoidance. The
meaning of weak uncertainty avoidance is that a teacher may say, “I
don’t know”, and students are comfortable with open-ended learning situations and concerned with good discussions. Strong uncer30 An interesting observation is that seldom students leave room for shorter students and female
students to have access to something demonstrated; perhaps a sign of less collegiality and a strong
ego interest.
tainty avoidance means that the teacher is supposed to have all the
answers and students are comfortable with structured learning situations and very concerned to acquire correct answers. The above conditions are exemplified both in Paper I and in Paper IV. The Asian
student in Paper IV clearly remarks that she is more comfortable
with the latter relation between student and teacher i.e. proper distance. Interestingly, she shows the opposite during the study conversation with the interviewer i.e. she shows less power distance.
The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) has funded a
research project “Learning to reason in the context of socio-scientific problems” (Mäkitalo et al., 2006, p. 3) where it is written:
“… classroom activities and learning tasks appear to have changed rather dramatically in recent decades in many parts of the
world. This does not imply that learning and traditional question and answer patterns have disappeared, but rather that such
practices are challenged by other modes of communicating and
learning, where the demands on students are different. Today,
pupils … are engaged in groupwork and various forms of problem based learning. Learning tasks in such settings are often
more open-ended and presuppose rather complex skills on the
parts of pupils of being able to search for, select, structure, and
evaluate information and arguments of different kinds”.
With this follows the students’ ability to understand and identify
other people’s way of speaking from a multiple perspective, to critically accept messages, enable concepts to make sense and to be able
to argue on these viewpoints. If there is any gap in the understanding, the participants themselves have to attend to such bridging
problems. To manage successful bridging, skills are needed to bring
forward clarifications, explanations, justifications etc. in order to
make sense in understanding. Shyness, from the students’ point of
view, is a behaviour that has to be placed in the very back row.
Teachers need to be sensitive to gaps in talk and have an insight
that sentences uttered can have different conceptions dependent on
students’ history and culture. From a communication point of view,
therefore, the teacher should not use explanations or sentences that
are fractionally composed. In a group of mixed languages it is better
to be less complicated. Instead, the teacher should facilitate the students who require support and guidance in how to find knowledge
within a collective study option. The teacher has become a facilitator of information. The students both in Paper I and Paper IV made
remarks that teachers from English speaking countries have a tendency to use a vocabulary that the students not always feel comfortable with. This is something all teachers teaching in a multicultural
environment like WMU should bear in mind; not to use rare words,
local expressions, proverbs and complicated long sentences. A person that has received a Foot in Mouth award, perhaps, should not
take up a job as teacher. A good example on a complicated sentence
is illustrated below:
”Reports that say something hasn’t happened are interesting
to me, because as we know, there are known unknowns; there
things we know we know,” … ”We also know there are known
unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do
not know. But there are also unknown unknowns the ones we
don’t know we don’t know”.
(US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld’s curious statement at a
press briefing, 2003) .
Teacher competence has been discussed in a number of research studies. One recent research study discusses the correlation between
teacher competence, school attitudes and self-confidence and that
these three factors are related to the efficiency of the students in
handling their conflicts, school attitudes and self-confidence Malm
(2005). “… teaching is an emotional practice because emotions are
at the heart of teaching” concludes Hargreaves (in Malm, 2005, p.
408). Malm and Löfgren (2006, in print) write “… it was found that
the emotional bond teachers had with their students was the central
influence with regard to their choice of method, teaching context
and practice”. The two reflections above signify that a teacher carries a big burden in the way he/she emotionally relates to the students. Whether this is the case also with non-Western students was
not discussed in the papers included but presumably it is also relevant, perhaps with additional stringency.
With the above in mind, one can wonder how different pedagogies practically can be harmonised and be made to satisfy various
multicultural settings that exist in the world? Do we need to harmonise; a buzzword today? Lahdenperä (1999) discusses this and is of
the opinion that usually it has been shown that a student’s need is
to attend an ethnocentric pedagogy. It has been found, in non-MET
class contexts, that teachers usually take their own cultural values for
granted in the classroom. The consequence is apparent: the teacher’s
relation to other cultures than his/her own could easily lead him or
her to discrimination. This is of course not acceptable neither for the
teachers nor the students being subjected to such attitudes. Further
research is needed and in particular in the field of MET.
Like many universities worldwide maritime institutions are failing
to adequately support ethnic minority students. European MET, like
many other professional courses in Europe, is very much based on
Christian culture and history. This state of affairs is being discussed
more and more in media and technical journals on education. To
understand the tutoring in a foreign language constitutes an additional difficulty in catching the meaning of what the teacher is saying.
With a different religious belief, between a student and his or her
teacher, a supplementary constraint most probably will be introduced.
A summary of above could be formulated by a not teaching person like Johansson (1995, p. 12) who is a cook and writes: “Because
of its complex nature intercultural education places special demands
on teachers”. Literature studies from academics interested in multicultural education like Bourne, Drakenberg, Lahdenperä, Tesfahuney, von Brömssen, and many others will give the same statement.
4.4 Complementary predicaments
Universities seldom give students access to cultural and religious
societies and networks. It turns out to be the student’s own initiative
to find group similarities that he/she can identify with. Of course,
this statement is not general, some institutions have tried to address the problem but progress is slow mainly because these issues
are complex. Generally, students do not need someone to hold their
hand but rather to have a support network that is not solely geared
towards white middle class students. This was stated in a summary
in a UK research study led by the Institute of Employment Studies
(Tysome, 2004). Of course, from a sociological point of view, for a
student with social constraints in his or her world, an examination
of knowledge could make a good result difficult to obtain. Many
will manage but some will suffer and the academic assessment is not
fair and will not reflect the possible and real knowledge of the suffering student. Various environments in the student’s direct life and in
the past can have negative effects on the person’s well being as such.
This is normal for any student but it becomes more an issue for a
student not studying at home but in a different social context where
everything is more or less new and different.
The United World Colleges (UWC) has a concept to establish
their premises far from the hectic life of a big city. This policy shows
a good insight in leading the students away from disturbing environments, odd behaviours from the indigenous and other unpleasant eventual confrontations. The students can concentrate on their
studies and learn to survive in a cultural diversity among alike.
Assessments will not become too much of a student’s worry because
of disturbances from activities outside the study environment.
A country with a shipping profile and with a serious desire to have
its own national fleet manned with nationals needs access to a training institution to educate according to international rules and regulations. This MET institution should be equipped with the latest
technologies for students to familiarise themselves with. The shipowners should not take the risk of having an officer on watch who
has to use the period to learn how to operate the equipment and be
aware of and comprehend the equipment’s accuracy. The latter is
one of the most important issues for watch officers to be taught at
the MET. Both old and new equipment and modern simulators are
needed at the institute. As urged by Horck (1998a) and in Paper III,
the equipment manufacturers should (and they will) be invited to
participate in the education and this free of charge. Such a goodwill
attitude among manufacturers would enhance safety at sea.
5.1 International policies on MET
With the revised STCW-78 Convention (STCW-95) a considerable
added responsibility has to be taken by shipowners and the national Administration (the regulating authority). The Captain is still
sovereign onboard but he/she needs support to take difficult decisions, sometimes unpopular with the owners because of commercial preferences. At the same time, a more global uniform requirement has been requested by the shipowners. The first action has
been efforts to abolish common regulatory sentences like: … to the
satisfaction of the Administration, … acceptable to the Administra-
tion, … as determined by the Administration, … at the discretion of
the Administration etc. Such phrases make harmonisation difficult.
Multiplicity in the implementation and variations in the control of
IMO instruments lead to an uncontrollable disharmony in the education of seafarers. According to the author it is not an exaggeration
that the STCW-78 Convention, previous to STCW-95, was a failure regarding international harmonisation of maritime education.
The issue of harmonisation apparently has many facets.
5.2 The MET student today and in the future
Is there an indigenous MET student? If so, then the classification has
drastically changed during the last hundred years. A student in 2006
has little in common with the maritime student of the 20th century
and even less with a student from older days. In many countries,
mainly developed counties, in the 21st century, the student is a relatively well educated person and from both genders. In European
countries an entry qualification often is gymnasium level or similar
(about twelve years in school). However, this is not the full truth
for a worldwide cadre of MET students recruited to be seafarers.
Seafarers from developing countries often have less pre-knowledge
when enrolling into MET studies. In Sweden students normally
have twelve years in school before entering MET studies. In some
countries students enter after nine years in school. It happens that
seafarers of the latter category are hired to work on ships owned by
shipowners from developed countries. This is the reason for a new
industry challenge partly being the reason for accidents encountered
in the 21st century. Therefore, in order to avoid the risk of getting a
substandard crew, modern shipowners consult worldwide manning
agencies to man their ships. Shipowners can do this when the manning agency can show a quality assurance award and thereby a guarantee that the cadre of seafarers, that they offer, have the requested
international minimum skills.
Probably, already early in the 21st century, the maritime student
will have to have a greater and broader general knowledge than
today (2006). If the manning agencies cannot find the people with
the right qualifications shipping nations should be very concerned,
and they are. One reason for requiring crews with a high education
level is the many different sophisticated instruments placed on the
ship’s bridge and in the ship’s engine room to facilitate the operation
and to increase safety. The high level of officers education is understandable bearing in mind the responsibility the ship’s officer of the
watch have – the life of human beings that cannot be valued and the
value of the ship, its cargo and the environment that normally is very
highly appreciated. Another reason for additional knowledge than
stipulated in the STCW 95 is to give the individual a better start
when he/she cannot be at sea anymore and perhaps has to look for
work at e.g. a shipping company’s office, port administration, shipping agency, chartering agency, cargo or ship broker, or at a MET
5.3 Industry expectations on MET
What do the shipowners want from MET? Is it better that MET is
taken care of by the industry itself as an alternative to Government?
Two questions discussed and where opinions vary. At a few MET
institutions significant subjects are delivered and supported by the
industry itself. This classroom activity is done in order to give the
students the latest of the art, Paper III. One can see teaching by the
industry as egotistic because hopefully there will be less complaints
on bad handling of their equipment if the manufacturers teach those
who are going to use their equipment.
The EU research on harmonisation of European MET, a study by
the acronym METHAR, concludes that many European shipowners
would like to have officers onboard with broader knowledge than
required through STCW-95. This is one reason why MET institutions, in many countries, not only European, give the students an
academic degree after successful studies. This means the students
have obtained relevant knowledge also in other subjects like mathematics, own language, foreign languages (preferably English), physics, chemistry etc. that are not required according to the STCW
Traditionally, seafaring is one step in a person’s life. Often, sooner or later, circumstances will take the seafarer to drop the anchor
ashore. If the seafarer has something more in the rucksack than the
bare knowledge of the STCW he or she will be more attractive on
the labour market. Shipowners are interested in “over-qualified”
officers because it is in their interest to have former good seafa-
rers in the company headquarters. There are other players in the
industry that also need ex-seafarers e.g. shipping agents, ship sale
and purchase brokers, cargo brokers, ship chartering brokers, operational managers in ports, claims handlers at insurance companies
and Protection and Indemnity Clubs (P&I Clubs)32, teachers at MET
institutions etc. If these persons did not have an academic degree
they would be less attractive in shore based offices in the shipping
industry. Alternatively, after their sea career, they have to go back to
academic studies to fulfil employment criteria for many shore jobs.
The EU METNET project (a follow up of the METHAR project)
also verifies that the majority of shipowners would like to have officers holding a broader knowledge.
Today a seafarer is a rather well educated person, either male or
female, with rights to express opinions and take part in teamwork
processes. It is very far from the tasks of an officer at the beginning of the 20th century when the Captain was next to God. In
modern shipping, teamwork (BRM) is important and with that follows that the Captain has taken a less elevated position but legally
still have the ultimate responsibility on what happens onboard.
When teamwork is not functioning a strong leadership still is necessary. In the past the Captain was sovereign (and to a certain extent
still is) and with no doubt showed a pride in knowing his ship and
how to handle it. Officers and ratings did what they were told to
do with-out questioning the order. Seafarers of the 21st century are
aware of teamwork but perhaps teamwork not practised as implied
by its definition. Crew composition is random. Selections are often
such that the crewmembers do not know each other in advance.
This is a practice against the quality criteria in the STCW. The ship’s
crew must be a team that can work well together. “They need to cooperate and understand each other. If work is to be carried out
in a more multicultural environment both onboard and in the
boardrooms, we need to have knowledge on cultural differences.
… cultural differences are not a subject that is automatically understood by everybody” (Horck, 2001, p. 16).
32 Protection and indemnity insurance, commonly known as ”P&I”, is marine insurance against
third party liabilities and expenses arising from owning ships or operating ships as principals. It is
distinct from other forms of marine insurance purchased by shipowners such as hull insurance and
war risk insurance. Retrieved on 11 September, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%26I_
The typical background and character of a person who chose
a career in the merchant marine has naturally changed from then
to now. One reason being that the technology onboard has changed a lot in the period from, for example, Captain Cook on HMS
Endeavour to Captain Mangouras on MT Prestige. Sometimes one
can wonder whether modern navigation officers and engineers
should be “professors” in order to manage the many sophisticated
instruments (or gadgets as written in Paper III). In addition, the fact
is that many onboard activities and decisions reluctantly are and
have to be (sorry to say) done unplanned and ad hoc.
5.4 Workforce mobility within EU
Free movement of people is a basic pillar of the single economic
area of the European Union. It is one of the basic aims of the Union.
What has become true for capital, goods and services has to be a
reality for people too. Thanks to the rising social and human dimension, the right to free movement has since been extended to include
all categories of citizens, to dependants, to students and also to those
who are no longer economically active.
Consequently, the right to free movement includes seafarers
and students at MET institutions. In practice, this means that for
example a Finnish Captain can take up employment on an Italian
cruise liner or a Portuguese seaman work on a Swedish product
tanker. At the beginning of 2006 this idea has not yet been fully
realised. Some countries seek dispensations to protect their own
nationals, some refuse to agree and some shipowners declare that
the onboard language should be their own and that excludes those
looking for the job and not knowing the required language. Many
countries demand that passenger ships flying their flag must have
a Captain speaking the language of the flag. It also means that, for
example, a Greek student can choose to study at a MET institution
located in Holland. Perhaps, because of economies of scale, the EU
will establish a few MET institutions within the Union. Students
from all EU member countries will have the possibility to move to
any of these few sophisticated institutions to be educated in shipping and maritime related subjects. The question is: are teachers and
students prepared to meet this eventual boiling pot of cultures and
languages? None the less, the concept would be a great contributor
to MET harmonisation. Benchmarking from the lessons learnt from
the operation of WMU would perfectly come to practice. The shipowners would have a better control of the crew – their knowledge
and skill. In chapter 4.1 the issue was discussed.
In order to further comprehend the content of this thesis, below is a
short summary of the papers, the reasons for their inclusion and a
short discussion on the findings in each paper.
6.1 Reason and content
Initially, there was a red thread33 running through the papers with a
reflection on the theme of the conferences where most of the papers
have been presented. The red thread reflects an effort to make maritime researchers aware of appropriate research strategies when discussing the human factor, the use of labour onboard who cannot
properly communicate and the challenge of a multicultural diversified crew complement. These deficiencies should be corrected by
giving the MET a responsibility by expanding the curricula. The
order of presentation below is slightly different to the order in which
the papers were written. The order of presentation is justified by the
The papers, presented in various contexts, are the foundation for
this thesis. The papers mirror a development in the effort to enlighten the industry on its risk status on multicultural crew and crew’s
bad spoken English. This new risk, that the industry is encountering,
is the legitimate reason and motivation for this research. The result
of the research is an effort to contribute to a better understanding
33 The red thread is an admiralty name for the reddish thread plaited into all English navy rope
work. If anyone tries to remove the red thread the rope will be destroyed, i.e. the thread is there to
prevent pilferage.
of the research is an effort to contribute to a better understanding of
the risk and how the risk can be reduced by appropriate and relevant
education. By giving people, assigned to work onboard ships, the
chance to improve and raise their knowledge in the English language and by obtaining mandatory courses in cultural awareness
at the MET institutions it will be one factor in a general effort to
increase safety onboard and fewer accidents.
The reason for writing these papers is to enlighten the maritime
industry and in particular maritime academics on accomplishing
appropriate research when studying human beings and in the report
claiming that a qualitative or inductive strategy has been completed. The research studies that the author has studied often declare
that a “qualitative method”34 has been applied (i.e. using qualitative
data). In most reports there is no mentioning of how the study has
been carried out in practice, no examples and no information on the
researcher’s right to have opinions on what other people mean by
what they say on a specific issue; the researcher’s pre-comprehension is also often missing. There are seldom any excerpts shown in
the reports on what people actually have said. There is more to a
research using qualitative data than to elaborate and highlight the
problems on how many yes or no’s one can add up from a conversation with different people on a specific question.
Below three examples of studies where perhaps better information on the researchers and the research strategy could be helpful in
judging the value of the reports:
1) Kahveci, E. Lane, T. & Sampson, H. (2001). Transnational Seafarer Communities. Cardiff: Cardiff University, Seafarers International Research Centre, (SIRC).
2) Espiritu M. N. C. & Devanadera, N.P. (2003). The Experiences
of Filipino Seafarers in a Mix Nationality Crew. Philippine Journal on Maritime Education and Training, 1(2) 2003). Cabalawan,
Tacloban City: National Maritime Polytechnic.
And to certain extent also:
3) du Rietz, P. & Ljunggren, M. (2001). Isolde av Singapore.
Stockholm: Sjöhistoriska museet.
34 The word qualitative method or strategy is misleading. The researcher is using qualitative data
(conversations, life history etc.) and the analysis of the data is inductive. There are a great number of
analysing theories and subsequent methods, usually with philosophical undertones, in an inductive
research process.
Contrary to the following ethnographic research study in the
maritime field where the report contains a researcher’s pre-comprehension and information on the strategy being used:
1) Knudsen, F. (2003). If you are a good leader I am a good follower. Arbejds- og Maritimmedicinsk Publikationsserie, No 8/2003.
Esbjerg: Forskningsenheten for maritime medecin.
The tendency that researchers are hiding their research strategies is not something new. Cuneo reports in an article “I am struck
by how many qualitative works never report the techniques used
in data analysis, other than a footnote or a mention in passing”
(Cuneo, 2004, p. 3). In Paper III the shipping industry is alerted on
the same deficiency.
In the following there is a brief synopsis of the papers included in
this thesis.
Paper I.
The paper is research based on conversations with WMU students
on how they experience their studies at WMU, both academically
and socially. The research aspires to find an answer to the question
of how a multicultural student group can find a consensus decision
on a given problem. Another effort is to discover the student’s social
survival and living conditions, their study environment and how the
various environments have an impact on their studies. Bronfenbrenner would define these environments as various ecological systems.
The relation between teacher and student is also a constellation of
interest. The question is how this relation can have a possible impact
on the learning outcome. See also Paper IV.
The paper examines if the students, after two years at WMU, have
received the proper knowledge to be managers at shipping companies and organisations alike. The paper discusses how students
change their attitudes during their enrolment at WMU; adapting to
different learning methods, cooperating with colleagues having different lifestyles, behaviour and different thinking patterns; different
This paper is wide ranging and covers a variety of observations of
students in a multicultural classroom. The prime aim is to discover
how students, in groups, come to a consensus decision on a task
given to them. The author’s ambition has been to discover aspects on
cooperation that could be something different than prejudiced.
Paper II.
The shipping industry has been, and constantly is, under discussion
in various research projects and this in order to find solutions to
operational practices that cause problems to humans, safety, security
and the environment. Regarding research where the human factor
has a key impact on safety perhaps the applied strategy is not always
functional and not academically conducted. When the researcher
writes that a “qualitative strategy” has been used the report does
not reveal what inductive theory and subsequent strategy has been
used to analyse the obtained qualitative data. Often the report contains scarce information, if any, about the researcher (see example
in paragraph 4.1 in Paper IV and paragraph 1.5.1 in this thesis)
in order to give the reader a chance to evaluate the validity of the
This paper attempts to offer issues for reflection and to give maritime researchers an idea on recognized study theories and strategies
that can be used to arrange collected qualitative data. The choice of
strategy usually depends on both type of study and what theory the
researcher feels comfortable with. This paper seeks to give an indication on various possibilities.
Alvesson and Sköldberg (1994, p. 10, author’s translation) express
the opinion that “… it is not method but ontology and epistemology
that are crucial in good social studies”. Alvesson and Sköldberg convey that instead of strategy it is the conception of reality and a deeper study of being together that is important to be aware of together
with an analysis of knowledge and knowledge in relation to what
could be described as truth and belief.
In Paper II on page 101 it is written “Shipping companies’ civil
servants35…”. The phrasing might be misleading, it should be written: “Employees at shipping companies and civil servants …”.
Another clarification in this paper would be that the writing on page
96, discussing IMO recommendations (resolutions, codes, etc.), are
for guidance only, unless they have specifically been made mandatory through a convention or protocol. The interpretation issues
only relates meaningfully to mandatory instruments. On page 95
it is written Maritime Administration. It should be Administration
35 A civil servant is defined as a professional employed of a State.
because the Administration is defined as the Government of the
country. The sentence: To the satisfaction of the Administration is
not eliminated yet. Though IMO and EU are working to further
harmonisation by correcting expressions like this and words like:
adequate, sufficient, efficient etc.
Paper III.
The IMO has developed a number of model courses in order for
active seafarers to be able to update themselves in different areas of
the industry and to give MET teachers guidance and examples of
good teaching. Curriculum-wise, the courses are not mandatory but
examples of good teaching practices and an aid to explain explicit
subjects. This paper disseminates the idea of the necessity to include
a course in cultural awareness. In Horck (1998b) it is also argued
that Part B (which is voluntary unlike Part A) in the STCW-95 should
be made mandatory in order to better harmonise the education and
better include human factors problematic for the convention.
The aim of this paper is to give the shipping industry a wakeup
call on educational dilemmas at MET institutions in relation to what
the shipping cluster expects from MET institutions world-wide. The
paper also makes the industry aware of other safety deficiencies related to the education of seafarers. A study of the literature on practitioners’ and academics’ comments on such improvements is the
basis for the paper; references can be found in the study.
Paper IV.
This paper gives an example of how an inductive research method,
in the sense of using qualitative data, can be accomplished. The
examples given are chosen to represent a wider interest to the MET
sphere, though the conclusions are not a priori. The analysis of
some of the conversations focuses on the operation and teaching
at WMU. Due to word limit constraints, the paper covers only ten
pages. Important details that would have made the coverage more
explicit are omitted. The reader would have liked to have some more
explanations on the findings but the précis format still brings out
some useful aspects of the analysis.
Using WMU as the study environment the subject deals with areas
such as how the students learn and appreciate the applied teaching
styles in a culturally mixed classroom. Bearing in mind that the students normally are used to different classroom settings than experienced at WMU, the author uses an application of social constructionist research to study identity changes the interviewee undertakes
during the conversation. The target aim is similar to the aim of Paper
I but instead using an application of discourse psychology to give an
additional focus on the challenges the students are exposed to.
Paper V.
The paper is another petition to alert the shipping industry that there
is “something rotten” in the industry. Rotten in the sense: the mixed
crew complement, the process on how crew is selected, the low number of crew members onboard and the general reflection that a crew
of many cultures, by many shipowners is not considered something
positive for the safety of the industry.
More and more shipowners dare not see mixed crews as a positive challenge for the industry’s development. Apparently, a great
number of shipowners are afraid of diversity. Perhaps, at the same
time they are confused because of recent maritime human resource
studies36 that have given the industry ambiguous information.
With examples from articles in maritime professional papers and
magazines a summary and conclusion of deficiencies and lack of
visible opportunities are discussed.
Perhaps, this paper cannot be seen as a development of the previous papers but the paper can be seen as the core paper to wake
up the industry on a risk factor worth considering. The arguments in
the paper are founded on previous research. In this paper the results
of the studies can be seen as the foundation to the arguments and
together with general opinions from the industry the risk is verified.
36 1) “SIRC”, in Cardiff, published Transnational Seafarer Communities saying: “…when supported effectively (mixed crews), can operate extremely successfully” (Kahveci et al., 2001, p.26,
author’s adding in brackets, author’s underlining).
2) A Swedish ethnographer published Isolde av Singapore with a genral remark that the Captain was
worried almost every day (Horck, 2004b).
3) The Philippine National Maritime Polytechnic published a report The Experiences of Filipino
Seafarers in a Mix Nationality Crew concluding that there are some problems (Devanadera and
Espiritu, 2003).
4) In An analysis of decision-making processes in multicultural maritime scenarios it is concluded
that the issue is not problem free (Horck, 2004a).
6.2 Result and findings
The following is a succinct summary of the findings in the five papers
including possible explanations.
Paper I.
A comprehensive conclusion is that the WMU students perhaps are
not natural leaders, per se, but that the education in question has
made them a lot more confident in their approaches to shipping colleagues in different shipping spheres. A slightly sad observation is
that when students are not attending classes (during free time) there
is a tendency for them to retreat into their cabins at the hostel. For
example, at breakfast, lunch, on field studies and when choosing
their seats in the classroom/auditorium the students tend to assemble
as per their culture. This, in summary, means that the crossculture
communication is not that extensive either in class or when off duty.
Depending on the teacher, during class hours, there is some compulsion to mix. The WMU students have patience and this together
with a high intellectual level makes them rather escape a confrontation than confront (also in Paper IV). In the western world this often
is seen as a weakness and not a leadership labelled character.
There was not a major problem in the students’ ability to find
a consensus decision, though not problem free. The seafarers try
to take command, however, they quickly realise that the colleagues
with an academic background also can command. The women show
a tendency to take the backseat in discussions. Though, often at the
end of the discussions, they remind the others in the group what had
been discussed on the issue in a lecture or on a field trip etc. Such
remarks made the group rethink and the discussion takes a different
The study suggests that rhetoric is introduced in the MET curricula because many students do not articulate with the consequence
of lack of communication. Visiting lecturers have made the remark
that sometimes it has been difficult to understand the students. It
could therefore be advisable that permanent staff attend visiting
lecturers lecturing, not only to learn more, but also to help when
questions are asked and answered. Often, staff administrative work
makes this support complicated.
After having discussed a few research studies on the subject of
the human factor in shipping in the conclusion of the paper, it is
suggested that maritime researchers tell the readers of their reports
about their pre-comprehension in order to make it possible to judge
with what right the author can interpret other persons speaking.
In the final conclusion it is stressed that seafarers, students and
teachers need courses in cultural awareness. Teaching in a multicultural classroom is not predicament free. This is consistent with
findings of studies by e.g. Lahdenperä; see chapter 4.3.
Paper II.
One concluding remark in this paper is that it must be entirely up to
the researcher and his or her competence in a subject area to preside
over what strategy that should be used to best serve the search for
interesting and relevant information. The paper urges researchers
to demonstrate how their study has taken form and to include an
author’s pre-comprehension.
In a classroom there are different discourses that have an impact
on the classroom discourse as such. Some impact discourses are
more relevant to the classroom discourse than other discourses. In
the summary it is stated that discourses outside the classroom have
an impact on the social situation and the learning effectiveness in
the classroom; a discussion similar to the theories of Bronfenbrenner
and his ecological systems (environments). In the paper the question
is raised as to the power in the classroom perhaps being someone
or something outside the actual classroom. What that something or
someone is, of course, is very individual but still if there are common
issues that have an impact on the wellbeing of the student and the
learning process it would be interesting to know and discover how
to reduce eventual negative impacts.
Paper III.
In this paper the UN special agency IMO is urged to develop a
model course, with best practice, on human factor and human behaviour questions, in particular cultural awareness. The reason for
many accidents is usually explained by fatigue or ergonometric constraints, the human – machine interface. In the paper other reasons
equally important are intensively discussed: lack of cultural aware-
ness and crew’s weak knowledge in the English language. The MET
should incorporate these two subject areas into the curriculum; see
also Paper V. The author concludes that the IMO model courses are
not made use of very much. Interesting to note is that some countries
look upon the model courses as a must in the curricula in order to
have the institution recognised according to the IMO white list37.
On the contrary, the model courses should be seen as guidance for
teachers and those who wish to learn more, the inquisitives.
Part of the paper holds a deductive inquiry into the popularity of
IMO’s model courses. It is shown that 13 percent of the sample38 do
not use or follow the recommendations in the model courses; which
is true for this sample. The undersized sample does not have a significant relationship though giving IMO a little wakeup. It appears
that teachers with many years on the rostrum cannot accept being
told either how to conduct or what to include in the teaching; a selfsatisfied, arrogant, proud and stubborn teacher. It is a pity because
this leads to a gap in the general efforts to harmonise the education.
Unless the model courses are made mandatory in content and in the
pedagogic presentation, an additional course in cultural awareness
will be less meaningful. With the courses being made mandatory it
would be a step towards greater harmonisation of an international
MET. Unless a regional MET-lecturing joint venture is established
e.g. within any of the trade blocks like the EU, NAFTA, ASEAN,
CARICOM, or any other small or big organisation that exists in the
world, the cost per student can become unreasonably high. More
than once, the IMO has declared the theme of the year to be cooperation. Cooperation, in the meaning of sharing ideas on conducting
model courses as well as exchanging experiences on the handling
of simulators, will have a positive effect on harmonisation of MET.
Cooperation is good for a technically advanced shipping industry,
governments, environmental organisations, MET institutions etc.
and very important in achieving a MET that is cost effective.
The paper draws attention to other important activities in shipping that deserve a model course: how to collaborate, how to ask
37 The IMO so called ”White List” is a list of countries deemed to be giving ”full and complete
effect” to the revised STCW Convention (STCW-95). There is no “blacklist” for countries not complying with the convention.
38 The sample size was 14 MET institutions worldwide.
questions at a port state control and a surveyor’s how to do activities
in general, the value of having a good shipping mentality (seamanship in a wider perspective) and teamwork practices (BRM).
Paper IV.
From the study it is found that students, predominantly Asian students, seek clarification of information, by asking country colleagues instead of returning to the teacher. Asian students would absolutely not interrupt the lecturer for clarification. An ad hoc student’s
question could put the teacher in a precarious situation and other
students might be disturbed by a question during class. The teacher
might lose the red thread in the logic of his or her pre-planned presentation. Though, it is less problematic for an Asian student to
interrupt a colleague, from another culture.
The following excerpt is an example of above statement. IR is the
interviewer (the author) and IE is the interviewee (the student).
IR: Some students interfere by asking questions does this disturb
you, or?
IE: Of course, too much.
Paper IV, p.410
In order to be more “private” with the teacher some students prefer
to choose their seating in the classroom close to the rostrum (the
teacher). This arrangement would justify and make it possible to
question, if really necessary. The student in front can more comfortably pretend that the others in the room, the colleagues sitting
behind, are non-existent.
It appears that the WMU students are good in changing their role
dependent on with whom they talk. Among humans this approach
is not unusual. It is a character, a skill, which becomes important
when being with others. The Swedish Queen Kristina who made a
point39 of the art of dissimulation states this. It was important to
Her Majesty when she had to confront people with different backgrounds and ranks.
Some students could be understood as being in an ethnic imprisonment/captivity, to paraphrase Lundberg (1991). This label is
39 Source unknown.
given because the almost extreme behaviour of students’ culture
grouping indicates that there is a strong ethnocentricity among the
students. Normally, people in Diasporas show strong belief in the
inherent. This is a phenomenon also highlighted in Paper I. It is
close to impossible to free oneself from one’s ethnocentric behaviour
towards people from other cultures, even if one tries as much as possible. Instead one should realise (read: be made to realise, because it
does not come naturally) that the genuine interest for the unknown
is a valuable resource; develop intercultural competence. At WMU,
on the contrary, the students appear to prefer an avoidance of confrontation (also in Paper I). From a general point of view the curiosity (chapter 4.1 in Paper V) seems not to be very strong.
The example below is just one example of an answer to a question where the WMU student does not accept certain behaviour. The
student prefers to withdraw from the arena rather than argue. 2M is
the interviewee (the student).
2M: But there has (sic.) been times when eating habits have
become offensive, yes, but I just leave.
(Horck, 2002)
Tolerance necessarily does not mean an appreciation or a positive
acknowledgement of a particular phenomenon. Students with a
capacity to move between cultural codes, in their professional life,
will find themselves being more appreciated and coveted.
The findings lead the author to believe that a relaxed atmosphere
in the conversation with this woman has created a level playing field
where there is less power distance and therefore the communication
has become less constrained. The paper concludes that people may
become all alike, or close to alike, in their behaviour if acting in
a level playing field. Culture becomes and may act as a barrier of
self-defence (only) when the individual confronts with the unknown.
The barrier has to be removed and that can practically be done by
Paper V.
This paper is a contribution to the BIMCO general assembly and
centenary celebration seminar. The paper highlights the problem
with mixed crewing on merchant ships and how the shipowners see
the mix as a daring challenge or a runaway policy. The author, both
in Paper III and Paper V, calls for more education of mariners in
English and added lectures in cultural awareness. The verification
of discussed statements is mainly built on articles in maritime media
and author’s conversations with seafarers, shipowners and shipowners’ representatives.
It is concluded that no improvements in safety can be achieved
until the following four issues have been realised and taken into
Educating ourselves in the behaviour of other cultures,
Adopting a stronger leadership,
Understanding what really is behind the concept of teamwork
Making additional efforts to talk to each other without bragging with our second language (or foreign language) English
using fancy words and pronouncing words not understood.
Paper V
Regarding issue 2) strong leadership should be encouraged when
teamwork is not functioning and when the crew is not used to flat
management. Flat management is often practised in the western
world but not very common in societies from where the crew often
and normally is recruited.
In order to assist stakeholders on these issues the author urges
all shipowners, independent of the type of ships, to adapt the Oil
Companies International Maritime Forum’s (OCIMF) Tanker
Management and Selfassessment, a best practice guide for ship operations. The guide contains a good consideration of cultural awareness dilemmas and communication constraints onboard. As long
as the advantages of mixed crews is ambiguous the industry need
controls that are all according to best practice and according to rules
and regulations. It is the mission of the MET to lay a good foundation for a better stereotyping concept and better communication
The industry is made aware of the risk of having a crew that becomes alienated because of its bad communication skills. An alienated seafarer, in itself, is a safety risk. An additional reason for crew
alienation, Figure 2, is the low number of people onboard a modern
ship. There is no time to communicate or socialise.
Figure 2. “An alienated seafarer” (author’s title)
Source (picture): Caroline Ann Martin 3/02.
The summary of the discussions ends with a statement that there
are not many arguments that endorse mixed crewing. This probably
is correct unless people working onboard ships and at MET institutions increase their communication competence (CC), learn how
to adapt and that the recruitment pay attention to staff social competence (SC). These factors should be seen as equally important to
skills (SK) and intelligence (IQ-level).
In summary, the author believes that staff requirement (SR) in a
global maritime industry (including MET) should contain criteria as
discussed and be considered in the order presented in the formula
SR ~ SC + CC + SK + IQ
Naturally, the SC includes having cultural awareness. With this
staff requirement and qualification plus vocational education in
relevant areas of occupation we may have less misunderstandings
and intolerance. According to the author the above four parameters
have dire and obvious effects on safety.
When scrutinising the history of research one finds that scientific
discoveries often have been made because the researcher has not followed a proven strategy (Hartman, 2004). With this statement, the
experimenting and daring researcher should be further encouraged
to enter new theoretical starting points. In Alvesson and Sköldberg
(1994) the reader is made aware that Glaser and Strauss have the
opinion that any researcher can create his own strategy; on one condition: the strategy has been tested for understanding and determining suitability in the empiric application area. In the papers that
constitute this thesis, the efforts have been as meticulous as possible
to systematically apply great men’s strategies (a great women’s strategy seams sparse) consistent with canons of Western philosophy.
The research studies in Paper I and Paper IV are empirical in character and with an aim and effort to understand. In the two papers
the foundation theory is social constructivism believing that knowledge is derived from social interactions. An effort is made to uncover how students participate in their environments to form a view of
their world and the reality around them. In the research process the
phenomenon of interest is formulated. Marton has said that researchers seldom have a clear picture of the desire for specific knowledge, how to know it and why knowledge is needed. This thinking
is accepted in most researches flagging a social science discipline that
studies the human aspects of the world. The assumption is relevant
for most theories associated with this postulate.
The common dikhotomia of positive or negative, bad or good,
subjective or objective etc., in particular in pedagogy, has in postmodern social sciences changed to a wider perspective where many
doors can be, and have been, opened. The crucial question is if new
knowledge is useful or not. These perspectives should not be taken to
absurdum like in Eco’s novel Il pendolo di Foucault where Eco with
examples portrays burlesque unlimited interpretations as a new phenomenon in (cognitive) relativism. To make something problematic
for the sake of making it problematic is work for the researchers in
the ivory tower. The author of this thesis wishes his research to contribute to safer shipping through a better MET, pro bono publico.
It is commonly realised that it is problematic to understand the
human being; human actions show a complicated pattern of reactions, some can be seen and some cannot be seen. Researchers come
closer and closer to truth, what now is understood as the truth, but
probably none will ever be able to run into the streets and shout
“Eureka”. Kant, elaborating about das Ding an sich, once said that
“The human mind has not received strong enough wings to surpass
the clouds that cover the secrets of the other world (in this context:
the human behaviour, cognition etc.), and the inquisitive (read the
researcher) has to be given simple but very natural advice to have
patience until he or she gets there” (Ahlberg, 1948, p.108, author’s
translation, authors brackets). The advice is not to worry, because
our wings are not made to fly to such knowledge.
In empirically based studies the researcher has to clarify what is
being studied and how the study will be carried out.
In this chapter, research related strategies (principles, theories,
methods and philosophies) are reviewed with the intention of making
the reader observe the author’s endeavour that the strategies adopted are not chosen ad hoc. More specifically concerned strategies are
discussed in chapter 8.
7.1 Constructionism versus constructivism
These two words sometimes cause confusion and in literature and
research can be seen as used with different undertones. Not a few
writers see constructionism and constructivism indiscriminately.
Often the two words are seen as oxymora. In order to make a rational and short explanation of the two words one could define them
by associating them with leading representatives associated with the
two words.
a) Constructionism – Berger and Luckmann (both authors of
important work on social constructionism)
b) Constructivism – Piaget (the father of genetic epistemology; the
study of the development of knowledge)
c) Constructionism ~ constructivism – NN (most writers and
In the following, a sketchy explanation of the two conceptions:
a) Constructionism
The epistemological position of constructionism dictates that meaning and power are all that we really can claim to know about. A
key point is that the source of knowledge is not the human itself but
relations between individuals. “The constructionism replaces the
individual with the relationship as the base for knowledge” (Kvale,
1997, p. 48, author’s translation). The metaphor of construction
means that the world is constructed by descriptions and the latter in
turn is also constructed. This is why many believe that fact construction is far more rewarding than subjective feelings of certainty.
Social constructionism is accounting for the ways in which phenomena are socially constructed i.e. there is no objective knowledge
without a real world and this knowledge cannot be understood outside our senses and neither without a language. It is an approach to
psychology which focuses on meaning and power.
Berger and Luckmann, are criticised by Potter (2004, p. 13) with
him saying that looking for content “… emphasizes people’s perception and understanding … than to see processes and construction at
work in talk and texts, … it tends to obscure the interactional and
rhetorical nature of fact construction …”. Potter emphasizes reflexivity that Berger and Luckmann ignore because of an added dilemma
of epistemology.
Wittgenstein develops this further and emphasises the implication of realising the importance of understanding the value of words
and the logic in an utterance. This means that humans construct life
through language and indirectly construct identity and understan-
ding of the world with the selection of words in talking. “…everybody lives his life on a certain language” (Said, in von Brömssen,
2003, p. 14).
According to Potter and Wetherell (1987) the language is a social
act in itself. Therefore, it is very important to be able to correctly
interpret a message to understand what has been really said. The
researcher is describing another person’s world with the assistance of
an analysis of the other person’s language. Potter splits an analysis of
the world and finds it to be either a mirror or a construction yard. This
is an obvious clash. With the metaphor of a mirror it indicates passivity i.e. the researcher is not doing anything to his object. This might
“… blur or distort in the case of confusion or lies” (Potter, 2004, p.
97). Afterwards, in the effort to find the truth, one could reflect if, in
Paper IV, the interaction was less active between the interviewer and
the interviewee the interpretation would be different.
Lahdenperä (1999) voices the fact that social constructionists realize that also feelings and interrelations between people are, by their
nature, built on social constructions. The world is constructed by
language and language is a natural phenomenon that creates social
reality. This constructed social status is defined and formed from
the individual’s cultural context. Culture therefore becomes a major
part of our social world. From this (ibid., p. 80, text slightly modified by the author) it is further concluded that culture can be studied
from the following viewpoints:
a) Cultural artefacts i.e. different cultural products and reproduc-
tions like food dishes, art, music and buildings etc.
b) Collective beliefs i.e. what is right and what is wrong etc.
c) Repeated behaviours i.e. traditions, celebrations and rituals etc.
d) Ways of thinking i.e. the use of metaphors, abstractions, and
memory functions etc.
e) Feelings, sentiments and emotions
f) Ways of relating to one’s environment i.e. family and relatives
In a perspective of social constructionism, the above six points
become dependent on both the society we live in and a person’s
culture. An input in social constructionism is that understanding is
the result of a collaborative process. Understanding and meaning is
negotiated during a conversation and it is therefore that language
and how it is used becomes important (Burr, 1995). With this belief
the world cannot be analysed or described as a mirror of some reality
but becomes the researchers construction dependent on the context
where the person is acting. With this follows it is not possible to
reach full understanding. The truth is totally in the eyes of the
observer and so has been the strategy in this study.
“The world that makes a theory being the truth is dependent
(constructed) on the definitions of the theory” (Hartman, 2004, p.
140, author’s translation). He adds that this view on definitions of
our views of the world is often called constructionism.
b) Constructivism40
Constructivism embodies the idea that learning is best done by doing
(experiments) and making things. With this fundamental statement
constructivism is a central notion in questions on what we know
and how do we know it? This approach to learning is crucial in
cultural studies. Doing and making is often carried out in groups
and this is why and how people interact becomes interesting and it
is interesting because it is often based on earlier experiences in life.
This historical perspective helps to explain the reason why people
act like they do.
In education constructivism is a learning theory where learning
is an active process. Learning has to do with language so therefore
constructivism and language are closely related. Bergström and
Borèus (2000) have stated that it is not possible to separate between
a view on language and a view on reality; a constructivistic view
on language and reality. They also say that the language acts as a
constructive lens to describe a meaningful reality. Cognitive theories go back to Socrates who found that there are basic conditions
for learning. Today constructivism is a word mainly associated with
Piaget’s cognitive development theories on what children can and
cannot understand at different ages; a psychological development.
Piaget implies that humans have to construct their own knowledge;
a recreated knowledge through experience and experience failure.
40 For good reading on constructivism the author suggests: Sohlberg and Sohlberg (2001, pp.
215-219) and Ackerman at http://learning.media.mit.edu/content/publications/EA.Piaget%20_
With this theory it follows that the teacher constantly has to assess
the students to make sure they have new knowledge that it is the
same as the teacher intended. Vygotsky is also associated with constructivism although he emphasizes the influences of cultural and
social contexts in learning.
Hauge (2003, p. 22, author’s translation) uses constructivist and
defines it as “a person who reveals that the other is it”. A definition
worthy of a philosopher.
c) Constructionism ~ constructivism
As noted above, it is clear that in both definitions the language acts
as an important ingredient. Perhaps this is one reason why confusion, or rather an effort to separate the two, is not normally the
easiest way out and not crucial for the research as such.
It is written (Burr, 1995; Winther Jörgensen and Phillips, 1999)
that social constructivism has the same meaning as social constructionism. Though, Potter is of the opinion that constructionism has a
different meaning to constructivism dependent on the academic discipline. In Potter (2004) the explanation of constructivism is made
by urging the reader to look at constructionism in the Index of his
book. This could be interpreted as him seeing no difference in the
two words or that he understands constructivism to be a word fully
assigned to Piaget. The truth of the two explanations is to be found
in comparison. A theory is defined either as true or false dependent
on the definition of the theoretical details. This makes the truth relative and not objective.
Constructivism apparently implies a relativistic opinion on the
truth contrary to objectivism or realism (Hartman, 2004). Apparently, also here there is no clear separation between the two
words. Sohlberg and Sohlberg (2001, p. 215, author’s translation)
under the heading “Paradigm as research traditions in practice” discuss constructivism saying, “One of the most confusing conceptions
in modern research discussions is the notions constructivism and
Similar to von Brömssen (2003), in order to avoid a deeper analysis of different meanings of the two words, the words are treated
with a similar connotation (intention) in this thesis.
7.2 Inductive analysis
In order to effectively collect qualitative data and complete an analysis it is necessary, and an advantage, if the researcher is familiar
with the subject being studied. Sociologists, for example, would dispute this statement and insist that it is possible to be well familiarised with the target area independently of the technical background
of the target environment. The author believes that sociologists
would say that one does not have to be a prisoner to study the social
world of a client in prison. In many senses this is correct but it does
not refute the statement. The author would argue that in a study of
humans in shipping it is preferable because of the peculiarities of the
profession. The report will be better understood by shipping people
who then can recognise themselves when the writer is familiar with
the shipping jargon. Still, the author deems that the sociologist will
insist that the observations from an unbiased eye understand nudité
just as well because of his or her naivety. With reference to action
research Wallén (1996, p. 112, author’s bracket) has written “…
in order to fully understand e.g. how commissions are handled at
an administration one (read the researcher) has to work there oneself or in close cooperation with a civil servant”. To the author the
statement is considered correct in any inductive study.
In evaluating the research report it is important that the reader
has a good picture of the researcher’s comprehension of the topic.
The reader has to know the practical and theoretical background of
the person who has collected the data and who has made the interpretations of the conversations, categorised, analysed etc. With this
information, the reader can make valid judgement as to whether the
author can interpret the meaning of what other people say.
The qualitative data in this research is obtained mainly from conversations, dialogues, interviews and observations; it comprises the
working material of the discourse. The work carried out comprehends: conversations with the interviewees, transcribing the conversations and the categorisation of what has been said. Conversing,
transcribing and analysing (transcriptions, observations and questionnaires) are activities counted as part of the analysis. It means
that the transcribed conversations, the text, become the paradigm
for both hermeneutic and discourse analysis. The objective of the
analysis is to understand not to find truth and try to generalise.
Interpreting is part of understanding. The interpretation sometimes
can be done successively and the researcher can validate or control
the interpretations together with the interviewee and/or a co-researcher (an inductive perspective). All human beings, in one way or
the other, interpret what is heard and being observed. Sohlberg and
Sohlberg (2001, p. 214, author’s translation) made this clear in the
statement: “As a human it is almost not possible to live without
interpreting and striving for understanding”.
One challenge in analysing text is that the interviewee does not
always disclose everything. In certain contexts it is not considered
correct to say what you think or mean. Another challenge is that
sometimes the interviewee mystifies his or her sentences; playing
cryptic. Frequently a controversial topic is tactically turned away
with a laugh or a counter question or a funny story. A good researcher can find his way out of these complications in finding the truth
or the real opinion of the interviewee. To achieve a good result some
level of congeniality has to be established between the interviewee
and the interviewer. “We may make plausible generalisations about
the conduct of people in general. But very few of these will survive careful analysis” Skinner (1953, p. 15). This is not only correct
for people’s conduct but also for drawing general conclusions from
what people speak. Despite various difficulties with extracts and
interviewee’s behaviour in conversational analyses “Experiments do
not always come out as expected, but the facts must stand and the
expectations fall” (ibid, p. 13).
7.2.1 Discourse analysis
Fairclough, as discussed in Paper III, defines discourse as a system of
expressions that is governed by definite meanings on what is being
said, who may speak and what is considered as the truth. He means
that every discourse is related to a specific practice. Fairclough
(2003, p. 214) defines the discourse strategy as entailing “… detailed
linguistic analysis of texts”. This statement is contrary to the definition of discourse analysis in the Foucault tradition.
Foucault recognizes a discourse as a mutually created thinking
system; a system that clarifies the world. He means that every discourse describes the way epochs and cultures create perspectives and
form descriptions of the world. He adds that the discourse concept
cannot be explained unless it is connected to power, knowledge and
truth. The important statement is that text analysis alone will not
clarify the world and solve any problem unless it is connected to
just power, knowledge and truth. This is the reason why discourse
is used to find meaning, though, with different aspects within social
sciences. The influence of Foucault’s theories is effective in most discussions on the subject.
Both Fairclough and Foucault are important when discussing discourse analysis. This is the reason why their views have been mentioned in this sub-chapter.
Today, discourse analysis is frequently used in social sciences. Burr
(1995) identifies a discourse to be meaning, metaphors, representation, pictures, histories and expressions that together make a special
version of an observable fact.
Potter (2004, p. 105), also important in the area of discourse,
explains and defines a discourse to be an activity that is concerned
with “…. talk and texts as parts of social practices”. This is a broader definition than used by for instance conversation analysts that
emphasise interaction.
The major strategy problem when working with discourses is
when the interviewee says one thing and does another i.e. there is a
discrepancy between words and deeds (Börjesson, 2003). Börjesson
certainly has a point: if people answered consistently the effort to
understand the meaning of the spoken words would be much clearer
and less problematic in the interpretation. In most modern thinking
a key issue is: what is thought is not necessarily what is spoken. This
is a cynical attitude but should be perceived as a fascinating challenge for the researcher; we cannot fully trust our organs of sense,
particularly when the mother tongue is not used.
A general and straightforward definition of a discourse, though
defined in an assortment of ways as discussed above, is that it represents a person’s different viewpoints on the world. In Paper I and
Paper IV different discourse analysis strategies are used in order to
enlighten the researcher. In Paper I phenomenography and in Paper
IV a social constructivist application on conversation analysis is
accomplished. The latter is carried out with an undertone of discourse psychology according to the strategy of Potter.
In the next, there follows a short recapitulation of these two strategies and in addition Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory
because this theory develops this research aim further to a better
understanding of how an individual experiences the world and the
way of learning in this world. A second thought makes this theory
into a valuable and valid contributory approach to an increased
understanding of a student’s change in seeing and evaluating the
world during two years at the WMU. Social constructivism – Discourse Psychology
This strategy is used in Paper IV in order to demonstrate an alternative to phenomenography, in order to find the meaning/consequence/
impact of what the students say based on experiences in their respective worlds. The aim is also to see how the interviewee changes identity during the conversation and to interpret the interviewee’s change
in order to find a hidden or intricate motif for such changes.
Discourse psychology (DP) understands texts and conversation
as constructions of a world oriented towards social activities. Considering language as a dynamic form of social practice it also forms
a person’s social world including any relationships. It is social activities that make humans act the way they do. According to Potter
the ego is seen as a social identity and not an isolated autonomous
agent. In empirical studies the focus is on how identities are created
and become an object in social discourses. In DP the interview or
conversation is considered to be a way to survey how people place
importance on various phenomena in a social context.
The biggest difference between DP and other inductive strategies
is that there is a special view of the relations between language,
meaning and the psychical situation of people. The latter two criteria
are considered being built into language. This is the reason why the
language has to be studied in order to analyse the genuine meaning
of what has been spoken. In conclusion, the objective of DP is to
find a legitimate content by analysing the language.
The way humans interpret their lives is not only mirrored in the
words used, as such, but also by the metaphors used. Lakoff and
Johnson (2003, p. 146) write “… the human aspects of reality …
vary from culture to culture, since different cultures have different
conceptual systems”. Thus, the use of metaphors in much determi-
nes what is considered to be real. The issues of metaphors cannot
be either truth or falsity “but the perception and interference that
follows from it and the actions that are sanctioned by it” (ibid., p.
158). These ideas have not been fully considered in Paper IV. The
use of metaphors should have been given more attention to obtain a
supplementary picture of the student’s world.
7.2.2 Phenomenography
This strategy is used in Paper I in order to study how students at the
WMU appreciate their studies in a foreign country, together with
colleagues from different countries and cultures, being taught by
teachers from different cultures and discussing and debating in English in order to come to a consensus decision on a given situation.
Phenomenography is a research strategy that encompasses an
inductive study to find how students experience, understand, conceptualise and make sense of different phenomena in their respective
worlds. This strategy is sometimes used as a complement to other
research strategies. In Paper I a triangulation between conversations,
questionnaires and observations is used as a multiple cross-checking possibility and therefore part of the methodology. The study becomes an experiential description aiming at an analysis of understanding the student’s experiences.
It is understood to be difficult, if not impossible, to separate what a
person has experienced from the experience per se. Therefore, phenomenographic thinking is described in terms of what is perceived and
thought about, i.e. an aim to find the content of people’s thinking.
Wittgenstein said that a line should be drawn between what we
can speak of and what we must be silent about. He meant what
really matters are what we cannot speak of. However, what we cannot speak of we can still show – we can point out the way we live,
think and act at the same time as talking about a certain phenomenon. For instance, when discussing teaching methods and assessment/marking of exams the interviewee naturally hesitates to mention names to explain or to clarify what he or she is craving to say.
Explaining with various body signs is therefore sometimes used to
make the interviewer understand or better understand what is meant
or who is referred to when talking about, for instance, an example
of a certain activity in the classroom. In both Paper I and in Paper
IV the interviewees have used body signs to support verbal expressions. Of course, the readers of the transcripts do not fully get such
gestures explained but the use of body signs is important when
analysing what is talked about. Gestures commonly used are often
understood to emphasise a statement. A blink of an eye could indicate an irony in what was said but it could also mean something else
depending on what culture the individual comes from.
A phenomenographic strategy is based on a dialogue or conversation/interview to collect data. This is important, because a major
point is to understand how a person describes a particular phenomenon with words. Questions given to the interviewee should be as
open-ended as possible because then the conversation becomes more
relaxed and the result will be more genuine. The research challenge
is to interpret the transcribed conversation text. Before interpreting,
it is very important that the researcher clearly has made up his/her
mind what phenomena he/she really is interested in. Larsson (1986)
underlines this in his discussions on analysing text. The selected
quotes make up a data pool and the researcher shifts attention to
the meaning embedded in the quotes themselves.
According to Moser and Kalton (in von Brömssen, 2003, p. 113),
there are three conditions for a successful conversation. The person
has to be 1) accessible, have an understanding of and opinions on
the topic, 2) able to understand what is said and what is expected of
him or her (cognition) and 3) motivated in the sense that the conversation is an engagement on the basis of free will. As will be discussed
later, the WMU students who have been partaking in these studies
have been very motivated and interested in participating. The understanding has been no problem but the accessibility has been a bit
questionable in the first study. Not that the students were not willing to participate – quite the contrary. The problem was that the
answers sometimes did not fully contribute to the study. Therefore,
in the second study the selection was not random but partly based
on grade results. The expectation was that the students better could
express them.
In addition to the remarks above, it must be admitted that an
oral statement is less binding than the written word. Therefore, the
biggest challenge for the researcher is how to justify an opinion on
the collected material. Usually, interviews are recorded in order to
be transcribed and so also in these studies. The students in Paper I
as well as in Paper IV were relaxed and spoke quite openly, perhaps
thinking that what was said would lead to some improvements in
and outside the classroom.
The above is far from a full conception of the meaning of phenomenography. But some understanding is necessary because the
method is vital in order to assess research validity and reliability or
better expressed as transparency and usefulness.
7.2.3 The ecological systems theory – environments
The studies in Paper I and Paper IV were carried out when the students were busy and engaged with work and leisure in their own
milieu, i.e. during class hours in classrooms, breaks in the students’
cafeteria, during field studies and to a certain extent during leisure
hours. The reason for emphasising that the observations and conversations with the students take place in a natural and familiar
environment, contrary to study in a laboratory, is extended from
the beliefs of Lewin and subsequently Bronfenbrenner. Their theories/systems on the importance of studying different surroundings
and the impact it can have on a learner’s success has been realised as quite significant. Essential is also to observe and to be aware
that learning is dependent on the learner’s interconnection between
various surroundings and environments. A person’s subjective view
defines the situation and that view determines actions to be taken.
Bronfenbrenner (1976, p. 17, author’s bracket) adds to this statement that: “… the impact of the setting (environment) cannot be
understood without some information on how the setting, and its
various elements, were perceived …”. Generally, to have an understanding the researcher has to talk to his research target/s.
The idea of the dependence and impact of different environmental systems on learning outcomes is built on Lewin’s statement that
research into a human’s world should also encompass the environment/s this person is living in and has lived in. It is not a question
of simply incorporating the environment as such but also how the
individual visualises the environment/s. The environment reflects an
individual’s experience dependent on how that environment influences that individual and how an individual influences the same environment. Consequently, it is not the words itself but the meaning
of the words in that environment and in addition the meaning of
consequential utterances that are important to understand.
A person’s many environments can be dissolved in different and
special environments and contexts therein. It is not only the immediate and near environment but also all kinds of identifiable environments that, like circles in water, surround the individual. These
environments, or other spheres of a person’s life, also stretch back in
time. At the WMU there are several environments that could have
an impact on a student’s view of the world and that directly or indirectly have an impact on his or her learning. Examples of such environments are: different classrooms, the WMU premises, the WMU
cafeteria, the WMU student dayroom, en route from the student’s
hostel to WMU and vice versa, the student’s hostel and also during
the many visits to industry complexes in different countries, communication with friends and families at home etc. Figure 3 is an illustration of various environments that an individual could be exposed
to during his or her life. These complexities are reflected in Paper III
where a model course on the human factor should pay attention to
environmental changes that the seafarer is constantly exposed to.
These complexities are indirectly and partly reflected upon in
Paper I and Paper IV but a deeper analysis is not carried out in
any of the papers. No human being should be studied in isolation
because the human race does not live a solitary existence. However,
a study of an individual’s behaviour in a large group is more predictable than if the same reason for certain behaviour exists in a small
group. The behaviour of an einzelkämpfer becomes even more challenging. With this observation follows the complexity of foreseeing
and understanding a specific behaviour in a class or group with few
students. Lakoff and Johnson (2003, pp. 229-230) elaborate on the
impact of our surroundings by saying that “The experientialist myth
takes the perspective of man as part of his environment, not as separate from it. … You cannot function within the environment without
changing it or being changed by it”.
Figure 3. Examples of a WMU student’s study environments and how
environments in the past can have an impact on status quo.
The •’s around the figures symbolize examples of environments that
the human encounter during different stages of life. ©
If a student has colleagues from the same culture/country it becomes easy to ventilate personal and non-personal issues in a culturally equal way. Notoriously, groupings become evident with about
four/five persons from the same culture. A student who does not
have a fellow countryman naturally does not have anyone to talk to.
Understanding the culture usually is a prerequisite when ventilating
personal matters.
This situation puts the lonely student in a handicapped situation
contrary to the students that can group with their fellows. Birds of
a feather flock together. From the conversations with the students it
is found that the lonely student compensates for the lack of a fellow
A child
x x
x x x
Representing Disco
Business travel
Sports Vacation
School yard
Public bus
Talking to teacher
Hostel, mingling
Breakfast, cafeteria, chatting
Host family
A WMU student
25-40 years old
A school girl
15-20 years old
A worker
20-25 years old
Class room
countryman with more phone calls and frequent e-mails to family at
home. The author has the opinion that the student’s contacts with
parents, wife/s or husband and children are, in their indirect way,
contributing to better academic performance by reducing worries.
One can imagine that a student coming from a country with frequent coups d’état constantly has to keep himself or herself updated
on the political situation in the home country. If the student does not
look after his/her interests the work at home might not exist when
he or she returns to office after graduation. It was found to be the
fact for students employed as government officials, and many WMU
students are.
Apparently, the studying environment/s can have a strong impact
on the human being’s learning capability. Therefore, an educational
institute must take this into consideration in managing students. For
this reason it becomes understandable that a simple issue such as
keeping corridors and classrooms clean and tidy and not using these
areas within the premises as storage for e.g. teaching equipment.
Most WMU students come from poor countries and usually in their
countries there are people to keep office surroundings tidy. It should
also be so at their study milieu.
The environmental impact on learning is discussed by Maslow in
his discussions on human motivation (the highest human capacity).
Desires to know and understand are cognitive i.e. the human being
has a genuine interest to understand the world. “They (the human
beings) do not experience reality as a threat to existence” Schilder
(in Maslow, 1987, p. 23, author’s bracket). Independent of what
environment humans are operating they still have the curiosity and
“we know of no way of defining … a field universally in such a way
that this description can be independent of the particular organism
(human being) functioning within it” (Maslow, 1987, p. 10, author’s
Bronfenbrenner’s strategy on cognition is intended to be used to
discover the behaviour and development of a learner. In addition,
social interactions, often a second impact factor that depends on
who you talk to, come to light as having a direct influence on the
individual. Analysing study targets in different environments will
enrich new and provocative research questions that will improve the
research (Bronfenbrenner, 1976). When doing research on intercul-
tural learning situations this strategy gives a fairly “new” perspective. It is an interesting precaution factor to bear in mind.
The situated cognition theory, as promulgated by Marton and
Booth, stresses the same as Bronfenbrenner. They “… argue that
situating their students and research participants in authentic situations will help them achieve better research results and ultimately
enhance their understanding of educational theories”41. The idea is
that the environments play an important part in the learning process.
The environments or rather the observations from different complex
environments must be integrated in the analysis. The consensus is
that there is no difference between an individual’s subjective world
and the real world around the individual (the environment). The
world is constituted as a confined/restricted relation between the
two worlds.
7.3 Transcribing and analysing text
In order to be able to analyse spoken sentences, in extenso, the
researcher has to transcribe what has been said during a conversation, interview or dialogue (an expression preferred by Gadamer to
define the contact between the interviewer and the interviewee). It is
tedious work to listen and listen again to the conversations in order
to get the transfer from spoken words to written words as correct as
possible. Transcribing is considered to be an important part of the
analyses. With this activity, the researcher becomes actively involved
in his or her own research.
The following transcription convention has been followed in this
research and follows the signs as listed below:
(.) Break in conversation, without measuring the length
of the pause
(//) Overlapping in speech
focused on Underlined words indicates these words have been
/ The conversation has changed in content; often a
spontaneous change
41 Retrieved on 14 July, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situated_cognition.
[ The author’s comments on the content of the sentences
… Indicates that the context has been outside the context of
this research or that it has been impossible to hear or
understand what has been said.
Utterances like mmm or a tired “yes” or “no” have, in most cases,
been omitted in the transcriptions.
In the transcriptions the spoken sentences have not been adjusted
to make them more readable. However, in the report some of the
repartees have been made more pleasant reading but, again, not in
the transcriptions. When a speech erratum has been made this is
properly indicated. Exclamation marks, full stops, comma signs and
question marks have been added according to the author’s judgements and decisions and to make the text more authentic when seeing it in print.
The above transcription signs are similar, with slight modification to suit this particular research, to those used by von Brömssen
7.4 Environmental changes – a challenge in class
Bronfenbrenner is one of the few that has been able to describe the
elasticity of the human being. Humans have a born capacity to adapt
to, and to create, an own environment. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological
systems theory received and still receives recognition in pedagogy.
An interesting statement from him is that in the studies of the development of a student one has to see this evolution in his or her social
context/s because an individual’s development depends on the environment/s (ecology) as such and vice versa. The individual together
with the various environments creates interactive processes; this is
why the development turns out to be another way around situation.
In the individual’s ecology there is an existence of other and different individuals that label or pattern an otherwise sterile ecology
or milieu. This is a common argument against studies of human
beings in laboratories where the researcher easily can get wrong perceptions (Andersson, 1986). The research target can present a more
genuine picture of its thoughts and meanings when an opportunity
exists to express this in a milieu where the target is acting and feels
Bronfenbrenner’s strategy differs from traditional criteria on
human development. His criteria are based on “the content on what
the child (read individual or any human being) apprehends, wishes,
frightens (is frightened about), thinks upon (about) or remembers
and how these psychological factors are changed as a function of
the environments that it (he and she) is exposed to and becomes
integrated with” (ibid., p. 22, author’s translation and brackets).
Studying the change of the individual’s verbal activities can discover
the change or development of an individual. The point is that verbal
activities change both with time, the actual environment and the
context where they are formulated. Paper I, comprising three conversations with the same student pursues the students’ development:
soon after arriving at the WMU, in the middle of their study period
and just before graduation. The student’s wording, in response to
the same question or the same discussion topic, might not be the
same on the three occasions. More often than not the answers differed. Most probably, the reason for the alterations is to be found in
a change in the individual’s appreciation of the world. For instance,
during two years at the WMU the student’s stereotyping has been
The older a person is, the more complex his or her environment/s
become. One could ask if a more complex environment becomes a
hindrance for further progress. If so, where is the optimum age for
not having too complex a material to study? The WMU students
are not young, average age is about 32 years. As a result of this the
student’s age could be an extra challenge for the researcher bearing
in mind the statement on age and environment complexity.
A student who has not learned to adjust to a new environment,
fairly quickly and easily, can be disappointed when his or her academic performance is not in harmony with what is customary for him
or her. The student has to mobilize strong efforts to find out how
to survive and adapt to new teaching styles, new environments and
new contexts for learning etc. Many students, who take up academic
studies, not knowing how to take initiatives, will experience anxiety,
frustration and often an academic failure. The teacher, seeing the
bad results, will feel the same. In order to help the student, before
coming to study, the educational institute has to give information
on conditions and procedures in the new study environment (see
chapters 3.2 and 4.3). One could find this self-evident but perhaps
not always that easy for students in general, having their different
cultures to take into consideration.
As has been discussed, Bronfenbrenner talks about the phenomenological perspective with the understanding that the researcher
should study the target/s in his, her or their many different and experienced environments not only the objective ones (ibid.). In the past,
the possibility to study humans in situ has been done only to a limited
extent. In Paper I and Paper IV there is an effort to analyse how the
near environment – fellow students, actions and behaviour of fellow
students and teachers etc. – has an impact of rejection or adoption
on the student. The various contacts and scenarios that take place
in the classroom could be a direct or indirect impactfactor on the
student’s behaviour and development. The student has to act, learn
and survive in the WMU environments and in Sweden with different
manners and customs to those at home. Being away from friends,
parents and other close relatives makes it natural to find a new setting of comfort; a new temporary close environment. What impact
do such settings have on the individual’s development and, in particular, the individual’s academic progress? Naturally, at least when
settling in, an individual is more sensitive to external pressures. If a
student is slow in adapting to the new environment during the first
semester studies, perhaps the first year of studies, the study result
might be lower than expected. The first year is extremely important
to the students because the study result will make the student eligible
for further studies. To return home after one year when you are supposed to study for two could be tough for both the student and his
entire family; more than perhaps is normal in the western world.
The point is that such external inconveniences should be assured to
be at the minimum in order to get a fair assessment of the student.
The students who have taken the English language program have an
advantage in this respect. They know their environment when the
professional courses start.
At the WMU there is a group of individuals identified as the
Malmö families who “take care” of a student or several students
and indirectly perhaps replace the close environment from home. If
well done, the Malmö families should be a needed and positive contribution to the student’s development and learning. Of course, this
statement very much also depends on the student him/herself and his
or her efforts in order to have an easier acclimatisation etc. He or
she cannot expect to be spoon fed with activities; the student must
also take some initiatives.
This thesis is essentially based on the dynamics of spoken words
and sentences in order to express a student’s world. In addition,
the research is based on observations of the students to find the
impact that an individual student’s behaviour, in different contexts
and environments, has on colleagues’ learning, behaviour and utterances. The latter play an important role in formulating another
individual’s world. Looking a bit further and beyond this statement,
one can realise that the capability to cope with external impacts
is important when living and working in a small environment like
onboard a ship where there is no opportunity to escape.
Phenomenology and discourse psychology have been chosen as
the leading research strategies because the author found from literature studies that they complement excellently. To get information
through conversations are not new and has been proven fruitful.
The methods of analysing differ but after test conversations the strategies were found to give useful information in order to find cultural
constraints and impact on education and learning.
8.1 An overview
Papers I-V show different ways and approaches to make the
industry aware of fairly new phenomena that often are considered
to have a negative impact on the industry’s reputation, quality of the
seafarer, quality of safety and quality of operation. The phenomena
are culturally mixed classrooms, culturally mixed crews (linked to
minimum crew complement) and in addition the often weak English
of the crew. The strategies, in the papers, are phenomenography,
social constructionism, as developed to an ethno-methodological
theorizing strategy by Potter’s discursive psychology, and literature
reviews, including thought experiments being understood as holding
a wider concept description.
Table 2. Pedagogy impact in papers
Pedagogy impact in papers
Subject areas discussed I II III IV V
in the five papers Decision Model Inductive Extracts Mixed
making courses research manning
A. Human factor training
Multicultural education in MET x x
Interpersonal skills training x
Bridge resource management training – BRM x x
P&I Clubs human factor training x
Model course in cultural awareness x x x
Importance of model-courses x x
Lecture hours in human behavior x
EU MBA’s x x
B. Teaching
An aim is to change identity x x
A lecturer’s monolog x x
How do the MET teacher manage – equipment x x
Knowledge transfer x x x x
Flexibility in teaching x x x
Harmonization in teaching x x x x
C. Learning
How students seek clarification x x
Students interrupting lecturer x x
Questioning as a learning disturbance x x
Interrupt colleague in talking x x
Implement knowledge x x x
Groupwork – teacher’s contribution x x x
Groupwork – composition, size x x x
D. Classroom discourse
Seat selection x x
Power distance x x x x
Classroom discourse x x x
Who has the power in the classroom x x
Multicultural/lingual classrooms x x
Student body a cultural mix x x x
E. Language
Rhetoric in curricula x x
Weaknesses x x x x
F. Assessment
Assessment x x
Teacher’s judgment of students x x x
G. Other distinctions
MET – committee participation x
To give the reader an overview of the content and pedagogy impact
in the five papers Table 2 displays subject areas and in what paper
these are discussed. The table summarises where various areas of
the thesis related to pedagogy are discussed in the five papers. The
headlines do not aspire to be complete but merely represent what is
most interesting.
8.1.1 Paper I
The research has a major phenomenographic approach: conversations supported by observations and questionnaires. The paper analysis includes the concept of triangulation to increase the research
validity. In this research there is a twin triangulation where the sides
in triangle I discuss the strategies of seeking truth. Triangle II has
sides that represent fixed studying conditions. The three sides in triangulation II are: 1) student’s culture and the Swedish culture, 2) a
decision making assignment and 3) the WMU educational tradition/
culture. In triangulation I the three sides represent: 1) conversations,
2) observations and 3) questionnaires.
In summary, one can say that the research condition is concentrated on how the students can manage and accommodate their
studying in a culturally mixed classroom within a WMU learning
concept. The analysis is based on the use of a group decision making
exercise as the observation strategy and conversations as a strategy
to fish for thoughts and opinions to paraphrase an expression by
Bjerkne (2004). This process of finding new data to give accreditation to the study is looked upon as a paradigm shift according to
Sohlberg and Sohlberg (2001).
By this it is intended to mean that the strategy used is adequately
modified to suit the study objective. The theoretical framework is
The two triangulations are illustrated in Figure 4:
Figure 4. Triangulation. ©
Besides an increased validity, new findings can be discovered by this
strategy of cross checking data. This mode of procedure will, in most
processes, contribute towards making an eventual cohesiveness of
strategies less negligible.
Triangulation I show the methodological technique for the study.
It is assumed that there is no way of telling which of the three strategies that should or would dominate. The strategies, therefore, have
been chosen believing they have an equal significance. In the conclusion the conversations have been weighted more and therefore
constitute the leading/major strategy: this mainly because of the
interesting quantity of data that the conversations contributed with
compared to the other two strategies.
In triangulation II the context is education in multicultural environments both inside and outside the actual WMU premises. The
student’s internal and external social environments are also included and together labelled WMU education. As discussed earlier, the
target chosen for studying the students is their efforts to achieve a
consensus decision on a given assignment. The three circumstances
are a natural combination and therefore justify being included in
one and the same triangulation.
Categorisations of words uttered during stress-free conversations
form the base for conclusions. Questions or discussion topics are
prepared in advance and expected answers noted in order to be prepared to act in a response to catch bigger fish. The discussion topics
are randomly ventilated. The conversations could therefore be categorized as semi-unstructured. The questions are asked when they
best fitted in as the conversation progressed. When operating in this
mode it is necessary, in order to safeguard eventual surprises in the
answers to the discussion topics, to have a list of expected answers
WMU Culture
Conversation Decision making
Questionnaire Observation
not to surprise the researcher. The discussion with reference to the
established categorisations was both inter-subjective and collective
in order to enter another person’s world of thinking to enrich own
8.1.2 Paper II
The paper comprehends a small deductive study on the use of the
IMO model courses by MET institutions worldwide. The conclusion is that the concept of these courses perhaps, to some extent, is
misunderstood. It is not compulsory to use the courses. The courses
are merely meant as assistance to teachers and others who need or
desire to discuss a specific topic with students or others.
The main research strategy in this paper has mainly been a literary
study on the use of the IMO model courses. Based on the author’s
experiences on the rostrum, since 1980, and studies on the literature
on the subject, a recommendation on the development of additional
model courses concludes the paper. It is strongly suggested that a
course in cultural awareness for seafarers should be developed at the
earliest opportunity. Some comments on the need for further model
courses are based on constructive thinking and therefore could be
labelled a thought experiment strategy i.e. that knowledge can be
obtained without an epistemological justification but instead by
intensive reflections.
8.1.3 Paper III
This paper is a wakeup call on how academics in the maritime sphere
can do better research on the human factor. The information and
conclusions in the paper are based on a literature study. By means of
reading a good number of maritime research studies focused on the
human factor and comparing their findings the author has concluded
that many maritime researchers perhaps do not choose the very best
methodology in finding the truth. A few prominent philosophers
and scholars, that have invented and addressed academically proved
strategies, are presented to encourage today’s maritime researchers
to do their research practising inductive strategies as exemplified
in the paper. In 2006 there is no doubt that an inductive strategy
is accepted worldwide, though some reservations still exist, with
the argument that the strategies do not explain anything, rather the
opposite, they are tools to help the researcher to draw conclusions
and this in an authoritative way.
A message is forwarded that researchers should not write that
they have done an inductive (qualitative) research without following
some specific procedures and that the author must tell the readers
1) what theoretical belief that prevails in the paper, 2) the research
strategy (method) that has been used, and 3) inform the reader of
the report about the author’s pre-comprehension in order to give
the readers a chance to judge with what right the author is able to
interpret other people’s writing.
In the paper it is not underlined that both deductive and inductive or quantitative or qualitative strategies may be used with any
research paradigm. It is the researcher’s world view that guides what
strategy to choose. A more collaborative use of strategies is becoming common, though; some still believe that the best for validity
and reliability reasons is to bond oneself to one strategy through the
whole research. The arguments above are given to the readers by
referring to reputable literature.
8.1.4 Paper IV
The paper is a fact and identity construction following a social constructionist theory. It is a strategy of interest in finding the meaning
of what people say and to find the identity of the speaker saying
certain things. This paper (like Paper I) aims to find a student’s
apprehension and conception of the experiences gained during the
study time at the WMU; socially and cognitively. An ethno-methodological theorising approach is used in order to find how people
make sense of their social world and how a person’s identity changes
during the conversation. Categorising what we see and hear does
this. Every human being, in different ways, categorises impressions
and situations exposed to. Loseke (2003) states that our constructed
categories, in our heads, are important because they influence our
behaviour as reflected in talk and gestures. This is why words used
are important to study because they are fundamental in creating the
categories. In adapting the same concept, the words we have heard
and the ones we use are both mirroring our way of stereotyping
Put simply, it is the combination of context and words, which
gives sense to the utterance. In discourse psychology (DP) Potter
(2004, p. 43) makes a point in saying that “what an utterance means
will not reach a satisfactory conclusion without some understanding
of the occasion on which the utterance is used”. Bronfenbrenner
using environments instead of occasions to define external elements
that have an impact on the human gives similar thoughts.
The identity changes, which a person usually undergoes during
a conversation, give the researcher a way to interpret and find the
importance of a statement. The interpretation of the changes can
clear if an utterance really is meant as it has been spoken. Such a
study will also confirm if a specific issue is of real concern to the
individual or if it is a triviality. If the interviewee speaks in the first
person singular (I) most probably it is an issue that is important and
something the person with the spoken words can justify. The person
becomes confident and sometimes a bit bossy in speaking in the first
person singular. If the interviewee uses first person plural (we), he or
she is taking the back seat and is open to modifications on what was
said. The opinion, in this case, is not equally firm as when speaking
in the first person singular.
In Paper IV the efforts have been to analyse the transcriptions
with DP as a leading light, at the same time bearing in mind that the
interviewee has English as a second language; i.e. that in expressing
herself she has a limited stock of words to choose from. The study
merely is a fact/identity construction analysis to find how the student changes her identity, depending on the issue, during the conversation. The female student changes her identity several times during
the conversation and this could be explained by her wish to show
when she was sure of the answer and when she wishes to cover up by
taking a more neutral identification. These identity changes mirror
a role that she takes during the talk. A deeper psychological analysis
of these roles that she takes on would enhance how she finds the
world during her studies at the WMU.
The student and the interviewer managed to establish friendship.
This is showed in her frequent interruptions of the interviewer; a
phenomenon normally not characteristic of her and her culture and
religion. A good interconnection between the interviewer and the
interviewee strengthens the validity of the research. Her many smiles
and laughing could be understood as reflecting a relaxed environment but it could also be a facial expression giving certain kinds of
reinforcement. To identify a smile in a different culture and compare
it to one’s own culture is quite challenging.
As reference, and when pertinent, the following aspects have
dominated in the analysis:
a) Interpret the effect of a word that the student has used. Not the
words seen in the sentence but words in the context (indexica-
b) Visualize why the student used a specific word.
c) Find the importance that a selected word might have in its con-
text; not the importance of the sentence but the word itself.
d) Understand how the student adjusts to a specific role in a certain
e) Find the impact of (not why) misunderstandings and silences.
f) What is the effect of words uttered but impossible to hear and
interpret and other mumbles uttered?
g) The words used mirror a thought that the person has at the same
time as speaking. From where does the thought come and what
generated the thought?
h) What roles does the interviewee take during the conversation?
Why does the speaker change footing and what impact does it
have on the facts?
In general, and in broad terms, the aim is to find out what is in the
student’s mind and world regarding her social life and studies.
It is common for people to contradict themselves when talking.
If something is considered inconsistent it is explained as a function
of the social situation and the individual. The above phenomena are
well taken care of in the DP strategy. To analyse how consistency
and inconsistency in people’s minds are used in rhetoric is also well
covered with DP. In Paper IV, the student shows consistency and
inconsistency quite unmistakably.
With the aim of getting a statement more secured and being sure
that the interviewees speak of own meaning and not something that
first has been in a sack before coming into a paper bag, discourse
psychology has been the approach in this research.
8.1.5 Paper V
Like in Paper II the strategy is based on constructive thinking, a
thought experiment strategy where knowledge is obtained by intensive reflections.
The strategy is mainly a literature study in order to convince the
readers that the industry does not take proper advantage of cultural
diversity. The industry is confused because research reports report
differently on one and the same issue: advantages or disadvantages
with a multicultural crew? Shipowners start to avoid eventual confrontations by mustering homogeneous crews, see Paper V, p. 28.
Perhaps, the economic situation in many EU countries (the tonnage tax dilemma, expensive airfares for crew transportation, social
security rules etc.) indirectly will solve the problem of mixed crews
in the sense that again it will be economically logical to hire nationals. This is an issue for the future. But shipping is too economically
important to many countries to allow seafarers to be alien species
and acquired knowledge to be drained to abroad.
With examples of research studies and literature the paper identifies pros and cons of mixed cultures in the industry. The conclusion
does not provide many positive arguments i.e. one can understand
the shipowners who start to muster culturally homogeneous crews
avoiding diversity. On the other hand, it is shown by an example in
USA where Johansson (2004) gives several examples of land-based
companies that with clear intentions have employed people from different cultures and are shown to manage extremely well. He writes:
“Simply by being aware that there are multiple ways of approaching
a problem, he or she will more likely view any situation from multiple perspectives” and to make a travesty of food “Impossible combinations are original and playfully wonderful” (ibid., p. 47, p. 37). In
the end of the paper the question is open: why not in shipping?
The case is made that the basis for better understanding of cultural differences is to include it in the MET curricula and to improve
the seafarers’ English. Hopefully, the life onboard will be much safer
and the crew happier and less segregated.
8.2 The research sample
In the papers where a discursive construction analysing strategy was
used, the population for the studies has exclusively been students
studying at the WMU. In Paper I the interviewees were randomly
selected and in Paper IV the students were chosen. The reason for the
latter was simply to obtain proper assurance that the interviewees
had something substantial to say. The research material in Paper IV
was retrieved from conversations with twelve graduating students
in September 2004. The paper contains a few selected extracts from
this bulk of conversations and the reasoning in the conclusions of
this thesis also contains reflections of the rest: the other students.
The study material in Paper I was retrieved from three times fifteen
conversations with the same students and conducted at the beginning of two years’ study, the beginning of the second year and before
graduation. The duration of each conversation, both in Paper I and
Paper IV, was about 50 minutes. The samples represent a cultural
mix of students and a selection of students with a seafaring background and with a pure academic background. The students with
an academic background often had a Bachelor degree or a Masters
degree. The academic credentials varied from management, economics and law to technical science areas. All students came from
work in the maritime industry: shipping companies, ports, shipping
ministries, MET institutions, classification societies, ship onboard
service or other organisations related to shipping; mainly from high
and middle management positions. The average age of the samples
was about 32 years.
The students that participated in the research did it with enthusiasm and all who were invited to participate did so with no hesitation. The transcripts are securely kept for the author’s future use.
There has been no written agreement on confidentiality, only a verbal ditto.
Females represent about 20 percent of the annual student body.
Consequently, they were less represented in the sample.
Not any of the teaching staff (permanent or visiting) has been
included in the thesis. The reason for this being that the intention
mainly was to listen to the students and have their specific view on
study conditions at WMU.
8.3 Conversation topics
Conversations have been the basic research material in Paper I and
Paper IV. With the intention to understand a possible teaching and
learning catch-22 the conversation topics are exemplified below:
a) Some students interfere by asking questions, does this disturb
you, or?
b) Where do you sit for instance in CP Hall [WMU auditorium]:
front, back? Why do you sit there?
c) Do you think that the assessment of you is negative because you
don’t say very much in class?
d) Would you stop the teacher by asking a question or tell him to
explain again?
e) Who takes the lead in a group? Is it the one who speaks good
English, because having good knowledge or something else?
With the duration of the conversations to be about 50 minutes the
topics have been more than the five mentioned above. Some of the
questions, or rather conversation topics/subjects, might on paper
look leading but on the field there were no stresses on words that
could be leading but instead a fluid consequence of what was said
directly before.
The topics are mainly related to the interviewee’s understanding
of his or her world in the classroom and how the teaching and the
learning environment in the classroom have had an impact on the
learning. Other questions have been related to the learning process in
environments outside the classroom e.g. in the cafeteria, on the route
between the hostel and WMU, in the hostel and on field trips. As seen
in paragraph 7.3.3 there are other environments, in past and present,
which influence a person’s perception and learning outcome.
In the shipping industry the shipowners, for commercial reasons,
continue to muster multicultural crews not given prior courses in
cultural awareness and adequate knowledge in the English language.
The MET institutions have not been pro-active and taken an initiative
to give their students such courses. The IMO has not managed to
introduce these courses as part of the curricula in the STCW.
Based on the findings in this research study, mainly based on studies
in a mixed maritime classroom/maritime university, it is realised
adequate to extrapolate these findings and apply them to situations
onboard ships and generalise. The conclusion is drawn that courses
in cultural awareness is needed and that the English needs to be improved for shipping people. An extrapolation of shore based industry
experiences and non-maritime educational institutions show that it
is relevant that also actors in the maritime world need such courses.
A factual that several maritime organisations and institutions have
established human element working groups and web platforms
for general discussion, indicate that the mixed crewing concept, as
implemented today, is not what it should be. The increased number
of accidents where the human factor/element has contributed to the
accident is another phenomenon underlining that the industry is at
risk. The author has made the statement that the industry is at risk
on a supposition (hypothesis) based on the findings mentioned above.
It is a statement despite the shortage of clear evidence; a weakness
due to shortcomings at casualty investigations.
The study further has shown that the students at WMU would
benefit in a course in cultural awareness and more time during the
ESSP course in order to improve students’ spoken English; today
there is an emphasis on writing skills. The latter education is based
on an assumption that the students should write an MSc dissertation;
but only about 10-15 percent of the students do write dissertations.
The shipping industry apparently needs repeated wakeup calls,
before the world faces a major maritime accident for which the reason is lack of cultural awareness and lack of adequate communication skills. As the situation and the prerequisites are today, several
studies, including this study, conclude that a mix onboard is risky.
The author is convinced that mustering a cultural mix will increase
the risks onboard and put crew, cargo, ship and environment at an
increased risk unless the crew is given courses in cultural awareness
and an improvement in the ship’s working language, particularly if
it is English. The mission of this very important task should be given
to MET institutions.
With emerging observations from this research, the author believes that it is important that MET institutions worldwide become
highly specialised and technically highly equipped. The MET student body will be multicultural. A merger of institutions, a sign of
globalisation and economy of scale, will therefore require teachers
to be trained in how to conduct multicultural teaching and adapt
their pedagogy accordingly. The merger will have a strong impact on
a needed harmonisation of the implementation of IMO recommended STCW Convention. It will give a real and stronger assurance of
the MET quality (good output).
It was stated in the beginning of this thesis that the study is not
built upon an expressed hypothesis to proof. The papers serve to be
an enlightening and a wakeup call. Seeing from a broad perspective
the studies have given the following questions a fairly clear answer:
1) Do the seafarers and the students in MET need to take a course
in cultural awareness? – Yes.
2) Is it necessary to raise the level of the seafarers’ English skill?
– Yes.
3) Is a multicultural crew complementing a phenomenon to be con-
tinued in shipping? – Provided education is given according to 1)
and 2) above – Yes. If not – No.
4) Is multicultural diversity benefiting the shipping industry?
– Yes, with the same reason as the integration and promotion of
women in the maritime industry as referenced in STCW-95,
Resolution 14.
5) Do MET teachers in the 21st century need cultural awareness
education? – Yes.
6) Should an education policy be promulgated in the WMU hand-
book? – Yes.
Undoubtedly, the answers to above six questions are a ringing –
9.1 Further discussions on the findings in the papers
In order to get an overview of the discussions in this thesis Figure 5
illustrates possible areas that have an impact on maritime cultural
awareness; why, how and where (a mind map).
In order to give further validity to this research, in the following,
the reader will find thoughts and discussions on the findings and a
few additional remarks on multicultural teaching.
The discussions have been sorted according to the following headlines:
Education in cultural awareness
Education in the English language
MET; the classroom context, teaching and learning
Assessing; an academic constraint
A need for a MET education policy
Conducting research on the human element in shipping
Safety at sea
Maritime cultural awareness
Reports from non-maritime
research fields
Practical experience
Use of multicultural crew
Ships provide an isolated
work and living place
Ships move between countries
with different cultures
Casualty reports
Maritime Education
and Training
IMO Modelcourse
Why? Experience
Ship’s and cargo
Onboad ships
MET Institutions
Crewing agancies
Shipping Co’s
Trade Unions
Ship’s Agency
Onboard ships
Figure 5. Maritime cultural awareness. ©
9.1.1 Education in cultural awareness
“Concepts of culture and education are, in essence, intertwined. …
it shapes our frames of reference, our way of thinking and acting,
our beliefs and even our feelings (UNESCO, 2006, p. 12-13). In this
way education becomes a survival function of culture. In order to
promote this linguistic competencies are a prerequisite to encourage
openness to cultural exchange. Students also must be encouraged to
talk to each other.
Persons with a tendency to avoid or runaway from conflicts and
persons that have a superficial relation to the world would be characterised as dilettantes (Andersson, 1986). This attitude harms the
understanding of multicultural identity. For many WMU students
the friendship and relationship with colleagues are often no more
than a how do you do and how are you etc. With such superficial
relationships one cannot exemplify them as having multicultural
knowledge; not even having an aptitude to be curious. Stenmark
(2003, p. 114, author’s translation) similarly finds that onboard
ships “Common social activities do not persist onboard …”. The
contacts are only one way and any communication over the national
borders is non-existent; no rule without exceptions. For example,
at WMU there are students that have married each other and in the
WMU cafeteria there are students that meet at a mixed table but,
over time and in a broad perspective, there is a clear tendency to
form a group when there are about four/five students from the same
culture/country, Paper V, p. 28.
However, there is a level of essential and practical knowledge that
should be passed on to people working in culturally mixed environments. Industry managers, ambassadors, missionaries etc. receive
such familiarisation by the knowledgeable, those conversant with
the subject. Seafarers who meet many different cultures should also
have education in cultural awareness instead of having to learn the
hard way so as to prevent the making of mistakes a second time,
perhaps a third or fourth time. Such mistakes become costly to the
shipowners. Likewise, teachers in multicultural classrooms should
have the same, or a similar, education in order not to cause any discomfort to the students and perhaps avoid unfairness in the marking
of student’s exams etc.
Cultural awareness education should be given to the students
attending classes in a multicultural setting at the very beginning of
their studies. A culture shock could easily be the result if no information is given on the social conditions that a student will meet
in a new study environment. A simple example: a student coming
from Europe and visiting the toilets at the WMU might be shocked
seeing the floor all wet. It has an explanation, it is not the cleaner,
but because in some cultures it is not considered hygienic only to use
paper after mission completed.42 When the toilets are not built for
washing activities the solution must be that the student manages to
resolve the situation as practical as possible. For instance, cleanliness is half of the Faith, according to the Qur’an.
Cultural awareness courses, which MET is urged to introduce,
will reduce wrong stereotyping. After the courses, crew (ratings
as well as officers) will better understand each other both socially
and individually, which will increase ship safety, also on a technical
In a multicultural educational institution the students, by definition, have a variety of cultural backgrounds but it is also important
that beside the teaching staff the service staff also have a diversified
background as a group and they likewise should be trained in cultural awareness, as appropriate.
Perhaps, at the WMU there is a need for a different form of student care; perhaps a care coming from the students themselves. The
United World Colleges (UWC), an organisation of ten related international schools, systematically has adapted a scheme where older
students meet fresh students. The older students introduce the new
students to the system and policy of the new educational institution and its environment; a sponsorship system. Usually the mentor
student has the same mother tongue as the new student. Partly, the
same procedure is practised at WMU. Only once, has the author
heard of a WMU student who preferred the mentor student to come
from a different culture and have a different language. Does this
indicate that students are genuinely not interested in learning each
other to know? Perhaps yes!
42 Recommended reading: Dr. Jane Wilson-Howarth, How to shit around the world: the art of
staying clean and healthy while traveling, 2006.
This caring attitude from the university is in line with the principles of Bronfenbrenner who stresses the importance for students
to be cared for. None of the students cited in this thesis, Paper I and
Paper IV, really made a strong point of a need to be cared for. On
the other hand, many students expressed the view that they were
well met at the airport and taken to their new living quarters. The
students appreciate the courtesy. If the meeting at the airport is very
much appreciated by the new students it can be assumed that a continued positive approach with similar care would be equally appreciated. From other discussions with the students, it is the author’s
impression that something more is needed in this area; an issue that
deserves additional analysis. It should be stressed that the courtesy
is not mothering or a curling parent approach but to assure that
the students encountering a new environment do not hamper the
It has not been the prime reason for this research but interestingly Rajendran (2005, p. 369) found in his research “… that there
was a significant difference (P=0.030) between teachers of different
ethnic groups on whether communication styles varied according to
races”. What is obvious is that many teachers, with different cultural backgrounds, are not sure that learning styles (a part result of
communication pattern) vary according to cultural belonging/race.
A similar conclusion to that discussed by Rajendran can be drawn
from the studies in Paper I and Paper IV, but with a different view
on pedagogy application. Too much variety can be confusing; lack
of continuity. Teachers teaching students with multicultural backgrounds should be given appropriate and deserved time and attention to achieve intercultural competence.
9.1.2 Education in the English language
Language is a special cognitive system that is unique to humans.
Vales, dogs and horses etc. also communicate but that communication is not understood as them having an elaborated language comparable to humans. Language also serves social functions and has a
social dimension. This is why the author in Paper IV is urging MET
to increase the English knowledge for seafarers who, by definition,
are set to live and work on an isolated platform with a minimum
number of people. One cannot afford to have a subjective work
interpretation of what is said onboard a ship. The words have to be
understood with the meaning the words generally stand for. With
this follows the need of having a good knowledge in English.
Sir Churchill said about his wife: a common language separates
us – the wife came from the USA. This sentence can well illustrate
the problems that can occur if two cooperating partners are not
conversant. The many pooling arrangements, consortia, alliances
etc., being frequent in today’s shipping, are examples of organisational setups where communication and behavioural constraints may
easily take place. Casualty investigators might report that there have
been communication problems onboard or that the English accent
was difficult for others to follow. There might be other reasons for
an accident or an incident. A reason that, not purposely, has been
covered up by saying it is communication constraints but in fact it is
the lack of cultural awareness. People in general, and in particular
a person who has a commanding position are not inclined to accept
that he or she is not able to make himself/herself understood. It is
beyond their dignity and of course has a strong negative impact on
their ability to have managerial positions.
The principal conclusion, based on the included papers, is that students aiming for a career in the maritime field need better knowledge
in the English language, more than a post- beginner’s, and lectures
in cultural awareness. People should not go to sea, or be allowed to
sign on a ship, because it is an alternative to being without work and
without skill. The industry will benefit if people go to sea because of
a genuine interest and motivation. The interest for a seafaring career
should not be different than for any job ashore. However, employing
more people onboard ships could compensate the communication
dilemma; people with the required technical competence. The days
are over when one could take men from the jungles or the deserts
and give them work on a ship. Ships’ officers need knowledge on
how to communicate and manage a multicultural crew complement.
Teachers need knowledge on how to communicate and teach in a
multicultural classroom and adapt their teaching to satisfy students’
different cognitive styles.
The student in Paper IV underestimates her own capacity in
managing English. If a student has such a tendency, of course, it will
hamper further conversation and breed hesitation to participate in
class discussions. It will make the person feel embarrassed when she
cannot find the words directly when they are needed. Naturally, in
a written assignment or exam there is more time for the student to
find the correct vocabulary. A shy student can do very well in written exams but in an oral exam perhaps less well because of the lack
of confidence in talking.
Clear and concise oral communication in English remains a vital
necessity. Crew has to attain a fairly high level of fluency in English
to carry out shipboard routines and to interact with different nationalities. Both the STCW-95 and the International Safety Management (ISM) Code are intended to ensure a common language and
with a multicultural crew the common medium of communication
should be English.
9.1.3 MET; the classroom context, teaching and learning
From this research, no findings suggest that any student is taking
advantage of sharing social values (no rule without exemptions)
bearing in mind that after morning classes it is me and my four walls,
Paper I. Though, it should be noted that during class and before
exams and in group work the students appear not to hesitate to share
their knowledge. And why should they not – there is no competition
between them and by teaching others you learn yourself.
What kind of pedagogy are the students expecting? What pedagogy can the student expect from a teacher having many years on
the rostrum but no education in pedagogy? The teacher cannot be an
isolated island in the institution. Teachers often appear to be individualist believing that individuals know best. This attitude lends itself
less to sharing with colleagues. Teachers should realise that there are
colleagues that can give ideas on a better teacher performance in a
mixed classroom. Teachers must cooperate and loosen up on there
individualism. A MET colleague’s empathy can be extremely fruitful
in both academic and ethical developments. The subject is complex,
challenging and interestingly vital to us all in our contemporary
world. Teachers having different ethnic backgrounds and different
professional work experiences could be an asset in the staff committee room; it should be an obligation to pass on such knowledge. [En
passent, also in an academic milieu with research programmes]. To
share best practises is a parameter for common success. A key educa-
tional performance indicator is never to work in isolation. In order
to have this work out successfully, of course, teaching staff needs to
talk to each other and be given time and opportunity to talk. If this
is not done on a scheduled basis at least the coffee room is a good
arena. Teachers, in multicultural classrooms, need to be confronted
with ethnocentric values; benchmark! Chatting is equally important
among teachers as well as among students, and very important in a
culturally mixed student body (and culturally mixed crew).
Kingston-Mann (in Bigestans and Sjögren, 2004) wonders if it is
intellectually difficult for students to understand people from other
cultures and if it is an added difficulty to learn in an unfamiliar
environment. “Does multicultural learning … require greater cognitive complexity, flexibility, and resilience than monocultural study?”
(ibid, p. 148). In our time, still, this question has no clear answer.
This is verified by many years of research on diversity teaching carried out at several universities worldwide. Logically, it is assumed
that both to teach and to learn follow additional constraints that
need to be learned both by teachers and learners. Skills in cultural
awareness and teaching in a multicultural context do not follow
with birth nor are to be considered uncomplicated.
Teachers, in any context, should exercise critical thinking and
question cultural self awareness and attitudes etc. In order, for a
teacher, to successfully perform he or she must realise that cognitive
skills are anchors of the personal empowerment process in a multicultural society.
To achieve a multicultural classroom society, does not call for any
new and special virtues. “The question is rather, in what ways should
the traditional virtues and attitudes be accentuated or expressed in
the multicultural context” (Roth, 1999, p. 70).
Sometimes the language can conceal the world’s real appearance.
The author has made this evident in Paper IV where the female student declares that she never would interrupt a teacher but, according to a colleague, a mariner (a Captain), she would interrupt him
unhesitatingly. She interrupts the interviewer (being both teacher
and Captain) several times during the research conversation. Where
is the logic in her behaviour? Any generalisation of her cultural
behaviour must be difficult if not impossible. She chooses to sit in
the first row in the classroom with the understanding that with her
gestures she will catch the teacher’s attention when not fully understanding what he or she is talking about. This is another variation
of signal misunderstanding or misconception instead of interrupting
and asking. If the lecture is in the auditorium she would choose a
back seat beside someone she considers smarter than herself. When
she does not understand she could easily whisper to the person next
to her to clarify what the teacher is discussing. Another explanation
for choosing the back seat is that the student does not find the subject interesting enough to engage her (as in the example).
The excerpt below is an example of how the student is giving a
reason for where to sit in the classroom. IR is the interviewer (the
author) and IE is the interviewee (the student).
IR: Where do you sit for instance in CP Hall: front, back or (IE:
in the back) (laughing). Why you sit in the back?
IE: Nnnnnnnn I don’t know. Maybe my behaviour (.) but in my
University [in country X] I like to sit in the front at front
close to professor but it depend on (laughing) / I don’t know.
Because the seminar is not too serious sir, I think.
Paper IV, p.412
In order to be good practitioners both teachers and managers need to
be able to feel the breeze that the students or the staff might generate
for them. Managers and teachers have to make an effort and sort of
get under the skin of their subalterns. If this effort becomes fruitful,
the subalterns will feel confident in their leaders. Everybody’s work
performance will increase. This issue becomes particularly important
in the classroom where the students must have confidence in their
teacher. If the two cannot communicate, or are not allowed to communicate because of cultural barriers, confidence can never be established. This is one reason why the teacher’s door always is open to
the students at the WMU. Students are welcome to meet and consult
any teacher any time. Dr Sohmen (chairman of International Tanker
Owner’s Pollution Federation, ITOPF) defines cooperation as fairplay.
“Fairplay he says, can be regarded as an essential ingredient in all
human endeavours and without which cooperation ultimately fails,
to be replaced by mistrust and disharmony” (de Bievre, 2006, p. 12).
Education requires fair play and part of an educational success is the
full access to the teachers; this is why teachers’ doors are open.
All education and training should have the purpose of developing human performance and potential; to use the full potential of
group performance. Today, the human capacity is considered very
important at any workplace. At many graduate schools of business
there is an effort to enable MBA students to utilise untapped potentials. There are many situations that influence group work effectiveness. It points to a need for special management strategies to handle
the many cultural differences between professionals attempting to
work together. Harris et al. (2004) mention a number of external
factors affecting the environment and includes diverse elements such
as: political-, organizational-, cultural aspects etc. Harris underlines
different disciplinary backgrounds of the team members and their
individual characteristics. There are many aspects within the environment of the individual to be studied that have impacts on the
individual and the individual’s learning. The more aspects being identified including how they are interrelated the better the study result.
Generally speaking, cooperative learning and case studies have
many advantages. Though, a set of problems contributes to a negative impact on the assessment of students that do not actively participate in group work. The reasons for such passivity can be manifold but certainly the inherited culture is one negative factor. When
group work is assessed the non-talkative students draw the short
straw. With it follows an unfair assessment. This statement is correct both for young students and studying adults. A better, and perhaps the best alternative, is to allow students to have real practical
experience, for example, job placement arrangements, internships or
what was previously practised at the WMU: on-the-job training. To
have fact knowledge is very important within any area of education.
“But to make them (facts and rule-based knowledge) the highest
goal of learning is regressive. There is a need for both approaches”
(Flyvbjerg, 2001, p. 72, author’s parenthesis and italics). The author believes that students would sympathise with the conclusion on
human learning expressed by Flyvbjerg (ibid., p. 73): “Concretely,
context dependent knowledge is therefore more valuable than the
vain search for predictive theories and universals”. This has probably been realised by the WMU students who prefer to take elective
subjects, to learn more and widen their maritime knowledge, than to
be narrow in knowledge by writing a dissertation.
At many educational institutions the students are not prepared
to work in a cultural mix (Tesfahuney 1999, von Brömssen 2003,
Lahdenperä 2004, Ljungberg 2005). No rule without exemptions.
Where it works perhaps the lecturers have learnt to take care of
constraints that can appear. The ethnic differences and identities
become even stronger the more a mix dominate and characterise
the environment. Students withdraw instead of challenging eventual
confrontations or inequalities in opinion. One can draw the parallel with school efforts to mix mentally handicapped children with
“normal” children or mix clever children with less clever children.
Any of these constellations will have one of the components to suffer
i.e. be unhappy, thinking to be something more than justified, not
living up to required standards, receiving unfair grading because of
the groups requirement to have same average results and a standard
deviation set to a certain spread etc.
If two individuals cannot stay in the same room for some reason
they will be a problem to themselves and to the other people in the
room. One should not force people to be together. With appalling
vibrations in the air the general learning will suffer. The situation
could be compared to having a savant in the classroom. The savant
should equally not be sitting with “normal” students but preferably
with those alike; nota bene during lectures. During non-lecture hours
it is probably good that people being different, one way or another,
meet other people as well; in fact it should be promoted. Before mixing, those concerned should have an explanation on the mixture.
There are several activities in the class room that can make students annoyed. Such frustration can be a hindrance for effective
learning. What could be annoying are the many different habits
of teachers. Paper IV does not define habits and pedagogy but, of
course, differing behaviours could give room for misunderstandings.
An example of this is demonstrated in the excerpt below.
The student comes from SE Asia. She is about 30 years old with
no seagoing experience. She is Atheist. IR is the interviewer (the author) and IE is the interviewee (the student).
IR: So, … one can realize that people learn in different ways.
My question is do the professors, visiting and permanent,
adapt to different … learning processes?
IE: Yes, I think that all the WMU professors have tried their
best to adapt to all these multicultural students but ya there
are still some clear features of different professors their
culture and their way of talking but I enjoy this multicul-
tural teaching [IR: Ya, but at the same time you say that it
can be a bit negative also ……. All these different ways must
be confusing for you] It’s OK, [IR: it’s OK but] ya, someti-
mes, ya, their habit annoy.
IR: Do you have any idea on how the professors should do to
satisfy all the student’s different ways of learning?
IE: No, I don’t have I think even in [Asian country] I can’t be
satisfied with any / with all the teachers and professors and
I enjoyed this kind of multicultural teaching and if all the
professors teaching in the one way will be very boring
Excerpt not previously published
This observation is not totally unique. In Paper I and Paper IV the
author has not made it clear what multicultural teaching really is
about. It appears from the conversations that again it is not the way
of teaching as perhaps was a presupposed hypothesis. IE, in the
excerpt above, is more annoyed by the teacher’s habits. Generally it
is assumed that habit43 is more equal to behaviour than to pedagogy.
The annoyment could also be the teacher’s pronunciation of English.
In this excerpt the student also admits it would be boring if all
teachers teach the same way. It has been noted earlier that it is also
the student’s activities in several and different environments that
contribute to giving him or her best academic results.
In Paper I and Paper IV the author brings to the reader’s attention
that in some countries females culturally have a subaltern role in the
society i.e. the power distance is big between man and woman. For
instance, in France many husbands still address their wives with a
respectful Madam and in Japan the wife walks three steps behind a
conservative husband. When an extremely female person is discussing
with a mariner one may think that the clash, the misunderstandings,
might be bigger than if she talks to a nonseafarer. However, in Paper
IV the woman clearly declares that she can interrupt a seafarer, an
43 With habit is here understood to mean an action which is considered bad or distracting, it is done
repeatedly and difficult to stop doing e.g. uttering guttural sounds, joggling with a chalk/marker,
tapping the table, spitting on the whiteboard etc.
officer, a lot easier than a teacher teaching. This might be explained
by the character of the male seafarer, his intellect and work experience meeting non-nationals during his work. Because of this the
mariner’s stereotyping of Asian females probably is quite good and
he is less prejudiced. This seafarer could also be an exception. He
confirms that he does not mind being interrupted by anyone when,
for instance, the listener cannot understand him. In Paper IV the author views this phenomenon in a wider perspective in order to draw
conclusions from the woman’s behaviour. In her opinion, perhaps,
she did not recognise the officer student as having a higher social
status than she, being an academic. Perhaps, being of the opposite
sex, she did not bother either. Clearly, the teacher is a “guru” in the
student’s culture and is respected accordingly. A seafarer might be
seen as having a lot lower status and respected with less distance
(perhaps also with a distance pointing down).
At WMU the student body comprises about 20% women. The
education of women together with men in a male dominated industry deserves special attention. In Swedish newspapers national education has become a hot topic. In an article in Sydsvenska Dagbladet
in June 2006 it was mentioned that female students on average do
better than the male students in their academic endeavours. Comparing the academic results of women and men in the years 2001,
2002, 2003, 2004 and 200544, at WMU, a comparison indicates that
the achievements are virtually the same; the rate of difference is 0.25
percent. From Appendix 545 the women getting an A-grade after the
first year number seven students out of 99 women. For men the
same conditions are 31 men out of 374. In the second year the graph
shows eight women out of 95 and for the men 25 out of 350. If the
average of the grades from the two years is calculated the percentage
for women will be that 7.75 percent got an A and 7.70 percent of
the men got an A.
Apparently the two genders are doing equally well. Perhaps, the
women should be generally better at WMU with the same argument
44 The year 2001 has been chosen as a starting year for the comparison because it is with the 2001
batch of students when the grade-point system was introduced at WMU.
45 In the two tables showing average grades for women and men between 2001 and 2005 the 9-
months students are not included. An inclusion of them would distort the comparison because they
by definition should be capable to get high grades.
as indicated in the Swedish study? Evidently, they achieve the same
grades perhaps because the pedagogy is not suited or there are
environmental factors making the result no better than for males.
One reasonable explanation is that many of the female students
have families and children, i.e. there are obvious possibilities of
worries that could take time from studies. A numerical study, during
the period 2001 and 2006, shows that 21 percent of the men and
13 percent of the women have written dissertations. An option
apparently more preferred by men than women. The men wish to
have a wider spectrum of knowledge by choosing electives instead
of writing dissertations.
The gender perspective is not at all discussed at WMU. It is not
wrong to state that in almost any project today the gender perspective is angled in some way or another. The author therefore has the
opinion that both the gender perspective and cultural awareness are
two subjects that should be further discussed at WMU.
The speech of a person being judged has an equivalent judgement
factor to how, for example, his shoes are maintained. The shoes or
the dress that a person wears is equally an important judgemental
factor, as is his or her speech. The more gold and stars a person is
dressed up with the more respect people usually pay to the person.
For instance, a Dane carrying a kasket, a Maasai putting on his
shuka, a Red Indian in his fur and feather cap, an Englishman in his
three piece pin-striped suit a pipe in his hand a walking stick and
a hat on his head, all become highly respected in their respective
dress code. Adornments and decorations also confer more respect
on an individual. At WMU all students dress informally. Teachers
usually wear a tie in class to pay respect to the students. The clothing should therefore not be a factor having an influence on power
distance or similar phenomena. It is basic but MET teachers should
also be properly dressed because then the students, having almost an
ambassador function representing their country in foreign countries,
have a good model to emulate. Although, there is no basis to verify,
it is assumed that a teacher not properly dressed will not command
the same amount of respect, as would a welldressed and softspoken
teacher. Teachers, as well as ship’s officers, not naturally talented for
the job (very few people are) would do better if following an established protocol. A protocol, as well, is a support to those who have
reached their incompetence level. Of course, a condition is that the
institution expresses a protocol or policy.
MET is not in existence to satisfy itself. The author has the impression that MET has a tendency to conduct courses, besides the mandatory courses according to the STCW-95, that existing teaching
staff have the knowledge and skill (of course) to conduct instead of
running courses that the industry as well as the individual wish and
expect. MET must be more proactive in coping with requirements
and find diverse activities. An example to be proactive and not wait
to be told what to do is to start courses with more substantial English and courses in cultural awareness.
If a student has a certain perception of his classroom world, certainly he/she will carry this perception to the workplace, the ship,
which is manned with a composition of a culturally mixed crew.
If this original perception does not change, the industry will never
achieve a decline in accidents caused by the human factor. The MET
should be modified in order to give the student a better understanding of other people and so as not to carry a wrong stereotyping
concept to work on ships.
9.1.4 Assessing; an academic constraint
During the conversations the WMU students often “complain”
that they are subject to too many assessments in order to obtain an
MSc. Memory knowledge was also a “hot” subject for discussion.
A student who obtains good results in exams assessed on the base
of memory does not have knowledge for future practical work. The
knowledge has been absorbed like thrusting a nail through a cheddar
cheese – it goes in and out equally easy; no holding capacity. In order
to assure that the WMU students (at the moment only the shipping
and port management courses) have wide and retained knowledge
they have to pass an integrated exam46 that will verify if the students
have benefited from the MSc courses.
WMU students aspire to attain a wide knowledge base. It is shown
by the fact that the majority of students prefer to choose elective
subjects in the fourth semester than to write a thesis. Students wish
to have as broad a spectrum of shipping as possible when gradua46 With an integrated exam it is understood that any subject area discussed during the studies at
WMU can be subject for assessment at this examination that is given in the end of the third semester.
ting. The students are generally not striving for an academic award
but more to refresh knowledge to perform better at work.
At WMU there are many varied assessment methods (closed and
open book exams, take home assignments, oral exams, group/class
presentations, research project writing and dissertation writing) and
this indicates that a constructivist approach is practised; all in line
with a Piaget discourse. Though, in our modern time perhaps the
assessment practices have to be amended and improved to suit a
mixed student body. Two additional methods could be added:
a) Individual contribution levels in group work (starting to be prac-
tised but still to a minor extent) and
b) An actual individual classroom activity.
The reason for a) and b) is to accommodate the students who are
better in expressing themselves orally than being good in writing and
not too good in memorising. In order to assist the students the WMU
should have an open and declared policy on assessment methods.
Students are entitled to know how they are going to be assessed.
9.1.5 A need for a MET education-policy
The author can conclude that there are many factors that can influence a good study result; factors beyond the normal but that become
evident in a multicultural setting. As already have been noted, if a
teacher focuses too much on discussions and debates, some of the
students will feel uncomfortable. Those students that are not used
to that learning process and do not have cultural awareness training
most probably will not be able to get very good marks. The conclusion must be that pedagogy is a sensitive issue in a multicultural
setting. A teacher inclined to crack too many jokes and a teacher
not properly dressed are two other types of behaviour that in some
cultures will cause the teacher to lose respect and not be able to be
the “guru” he often is expected to be; at least not at an MSc study
level that should foster individual thinking.
Perhaps, only one factor of the above can be crucial to the student’s
study result. The marks often become less than expected because
the student’s different environmental contexts are bothering him or
her. The likelihood for such environmental disturbances is higher for
a student studying in a foreign environment. To minimise environmental disturbances an institutional policy should be formulated
(see chapters 3.2 and 7.5). With this information, given to the students well in advance, the students would be less surprised and better prepared when arriving at their new study premises.
9.1.6 Conducting research on the human element
in shipping
Conversations are analysed as an expression of a world that people
create themselves. There can be no doubt that some eastern words of
wisdom demonstrate in a noteworthy manner that “verbal answers
to verbal questions are necessarily false and no one answer is better
than another” (Pearce and Cronen, 1980, p. 38). With such an attitude to the spoken word what substance in a sentence is there to be
analysed? Speech is action oriented and varies with the social context. Siddhartha (Buddha) argues that “… a noun is not the name
of a thing but an attack on a thing: a noun tears a thing out of
its environment …” (ibid., p. 35-36). This remark is significant in
Paper I and Paper IV, mainly because the students being interviewed
are not brought up with western thinking. In finding the truth, the
strategies normally used and the deeper understanding and explanation of the methodologies are philosophies by philosophers from
the western hemisphere. Therefore, the philosophies we use are
more correct (probably) and pertinent when studying and observing
people from the same part of the world. People from other cultures
genuinely have other references in life. To generalize findings from
these strategies and their undertones give the interpretations perhaps
less justice. Such reflections have not been considered in either Paper
I or Paper IV. The above remarks indicate that a single understanding of a spoken word is not always obvious. “Language is not a
transparent medium for conveying thought, but actually constructs
the world and the self through the course of its use” (Wetherell and
Maybin, 1996, p. 220).
Inductive study strategies and theories from wellknown men and
women are not new. With the knowledge of existing strategies this
paper tries to pass on a message that it is a recommendation to discuss, in the research report, what strategy that is used and how it is
used. In order to validate the research results it is necessary for the
reader of the report to be aware of the study strategy. The length of
the discussion on strategies in the report could perhaps be discussed.
As it is today, it appears that inductive research study reports use a
substantial part of the report describing the strategy/strategies.
9.1.7 Safety at sea
Lord Donaldson (1994, p. 99) wrote: “… it is certainly true that
standards of training vary between countries and that there are fundamental problems of communication with mixed crews, not just
because of language differences but also because of cultural differences”. This was stated twelve years ago and the problem still is a fact
in today’s shipping. The merchant marine needs latitudinarians who
do not deprecate fellow crewmembers.
The problem is that most of the information reported on these
deficiencies in the industry is anecdotal and therefore it does not
lend itself to a detailed appraisal. The reader already knows that
casualty investigators only sporadically report on the social situation
onboard. To report on problematic cultural constraints is something
that casualty investigators, ships surveyors, vetting inspectors and
port state control officers have only recently started to do.
Realising that the status quo is not what it should be, see Paper V,
and that there is a need for an appreciation of diversity (cost cutting
efforts to be competitive), the five papers have been written.
From a ship safety point of view, internal communication is
important, especially on passenger ships trading between two
countries. This is one of the reasons why the maritime legislation in
many countries requests crew to be nationals. It is assumed that they
are then able to speak the language that is the same as that spoken
by the majority of passengers. In case of emergency it has a great
On 10 March 2006 The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)
issued a booklet named Leading for Safety; A practical guide for
leaders in the Maritime Industry. The author discusses ten core safety
leadership qualities one of which is named “Be sensitive to different
cultures”. This initiative from MCA is very interesting because apparently the organisation also finds it problematic on how to manage
people from different nationalities and cultures. There is a difference
in “… fatalism, following rules, risk taking etc.” (MCA, 2006, p.
18). MCA has found that “mixed nationalities can lead to splitting
into different social groups” (ibid.) and this corresponds to what
this thesis discusses regarding the classroom instead of onboard a
ship. The mere fact that the subject appears in the MCA-booklet is
an added argument to urgently introduce cultural awareness in the
MET curricula.
One can imagine an impressive quick action taken after Paper V was
presented in spring 2005. Paper V, in particular, emphasises the level
of language knowledge necessary to manage also social situations.
An interesting observation is also that the German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd has taken its first cadets to sea onboard one of
the largest training ships in the world. The cadets are onboard for
three to four months and during this time the company places an
emphasis on “getting to know other countries, their peoples and
cultures” (German owner, 2006, p. 15). This is a formidable and
considerable example on a company being proactive and realising
that the knowledge is needed in order to get a job well done. The
MET institutions should do the same and be a step ahead and not
wait to be told what to do.
These research studies have revealed that many of the organisations that are studying safety at sea they do not have or can give a
figure on how serious the problem is with seafarers’ week knowledge
in English and lack of cultural awareness. One would imagine that
the port state control centres have information on the deficiencies
discussed in this thesis. The Paris MOU has no data. INTERTANKO,
BIMCO, or the UK MSA, neither of them gives clear information on
ambiguous communications aboard ship, ship to ship or between
ship and terminal. A number of sponsors have launched an International Marine Accident Reporting Scheme; a website named mars.
Mars contains a number of anonymous reported accidents but no
clear indication on lack of cultural awareness. On the web there is
also a site named Chirp Feedback (www.chirp.co.uk) where people
can report accidents and incidents. The report topics have included:
Rosters and fatigue, alcohol use, near collisions, failure of engine fittings, accident investigation failures, fishing vessel safety issues and
liferaft standards.
Despite lack of evidence the industry discuss these issues in order
to increase safety onboard. The following are a few issues that tend
to work:
Ensure as far as possible that one “working language” is used
even in social situations, and that crew have adequate training
in this language
Learn the key features of typical behavioural signals exhibited
by the nationalities represented onboard – training in this is
available (German owner, 2006, p. 19).
One could speculate if IMO takes subjects or issues to the agenda
by an “it seems to me” argument. This is all fine; it shows a proactive standing. What could be expected is that an eventual fear will
allocate more resources, give more teeth and more power to introduce corrections for the worries. This proactive move will assure
that accidents, in the future, do not happen and this because of the
same fear that IMO has identified.
In the mid 1990s the common argument was that multinational
crews were not, per se, a bad idea to reduce the ship’s operational costs. It was also assumed that only a very small proportion of
serious accidents at sea could be attributed to language deficiencies
and not at all because of lack of cultural awareness. There were no
reports and verifications that the reasons to accidents were language deficiencies or lack of cultural awareness. Casualty investigators
normally did not question relationships between crew and social
conditions between the persons involved in the accident.
In the Crew Performance Project, carried out by SIRC in Cardiff
it is written: “It was found that the number of nationalities aboard
in itself did not matter” (Schroeder 1999, p. 80). This is a statement in contradiction to the message that this report is passing on.
The author finds the SIRC conclusions unique and difficult to take
aboard. The many people onboard, in the past, made it possible to
have each and every one controlled by a colleague. This was possible
because of the number of people onboard was a lot higher in the
past than today.
Gonzalez (2000) found in his research that the factor most
important to improve relations on board the Spanish merchantmarine is the officers’ command abilities. Beside officer management skill one could rightly link this conclusion with bad communication abilities. A second finding concerned the character of other
crewmembers. Certainly, with this statement there must be a link
to culture. One finds that factors that mainly influence relations
onboard are linked to attitude. Again, a subject that needs to be
introduced in modern MET.
Insurance companies have found that depression and stress are
growing phenomena amongst crew. In the Norwegian P&I Club
Skuld’s magazine beacon Mason (2006, p. 13, author’s italicizing)
writes that vulnerability to stress is found to be due to:
Changes in technology requiring fewer crew … and greater
turn around time with less opportunity for shore relief
Changes in legislation and on board routines
Increased danger of terrorism and piracy coupled with stricter
port regulations … and no or limited chance of shore leave
Poor personal relationships
Multinational crews
Lack of stimulation and motivation
The above shows that the MET needs to take cultural awareness to
the curricula and that the MET teachers need to have education in
cultural awareness as well. The English should be given additional
hours in MET to make personal relationships better, reduce lack
of communication and reduce chances for the crew to be alienated
onboard. This is further emphasised in Short (2006, p. 4) saying,
“Language barriers can prevent normal social interaction on board,
causing some crew to become isolated and unhappy”.
Realising and assuming that other shipowners follow the Norwegian JO Tankers program to prefer a homogenised crew, Paper V,
p. 28, perhaps, one should not continue to “force” a mustering of
a mixed crew complement. Apparently, the industry is not ready to
take the challenge of diversity. The mix today is driven by economical necessities. The politicians instead should promote and make it
economical for shipowners to muster nationals.
In summary this research has shown how important it is that
teachers working in a multicultural classroom need courses in cultural awareness. It has also been observed that a multicultural crew
need courses in cultural awareness and improved skills in talking
and understanding English. The MET institutions should, as soon as
possible, even if not made mandatory, introduce these subjects into
the curricula. MET leaders should also send their teachers to courses
in cultural awareness. The above efforts will lead to less alienation
onboard and an increase in ships safety, less accidents and increased
personnel confidence. Government should preferably do the funding
for such courses. In second hand by the industry itself (the shipowner pays the student’s course fee, it is in the shipowners interest)
and as a third alternative part of the income from mandatory short
courses could support the awareness and language courses.
Instead of investing a lot of money in technical gadgets, as discussed in Paper III, a better and cheaper process could be to invest
in the human being. The investment should focus on the introduction of cultural awareness at MET institutions, mandatory cultural
awareness courses, bridge resource management (BRM) courses and
an extended course in English language communication skills. The
Swedish insurance company The Swedish Club has started courses
in maritime resource management (MRM, extending the issue not
only to be the ship’s bridge) where the course content includes cultural awareness. The courses have become very appreciated both by
owners and crew. The English language course should be extended
to more than being able to manage necessary communication in the
daily operation of the ship and handling emergency situations. A seaman with weak knowledge in normal communication will become
alienated and an indirect safety risk. The latter statement is discussed particularly in Paper V. An alternative could be to increase the
crew but probably less interesting because of the costs.
van Ginkel’s prophesies (see p. 27) on a world with no fear of
diversity management is not something that would come easy to
comply with and perhaps always will be there. Though, with education the misunderstandings will be fewer.
9.2 Transparency and coherence
Validity and reliability in social studies are preferably replaced with
expressions like transparency, coherence, trustworthiness, and fruitfulness (Winther Jörgensen and Phillips, 2000).
Regarding transparency the studies have all the empirical material duly documented.
2. The coherence in the discursive data from the different conversations assembles well and forms a good basis for the conclusions drawn. The statements also coordinate with the analytical
statements presented in the presentation of the theories used for
this research. Of course, further studies would perhaps make it
possible to better draw general conclusions from the statements.
3. Being part of the trustworthiness, alternative conclusions to the
observed data are reduced, but of course, there is room for alternative or different interpretations. The strategies used and the
observed findings show that the strategies well serve this type of
research and therefore strengthen the research trustworthiness.
The strategies used are based on philosophies and thinking directed
towards behaviours in the western hemisphere. The mere fact that
this thinking perhaps is not relevant in other cultures might give the
interpretations a wrong intimation.
The trustworthiness could be questioned bearing in mind that the
students use English as a second language and therefore have different understanding of words used during the conversations. The
mere fact that the students have a subaltern position to the interviewer might have been a hindrance in giving light to their study
situation. The author, though, believes that the relaxed atmosphere
compensated for such an argument and believes that the students
perhaps instead talked more than they otherwise would have done.
The author does not believe that a sociologist would have a better and “more” naked eye than the interviewer and observer in this
study; the trustworthy is not at stake on this issue.
Again, the author argues that there is a need for the researcher to
be very familiar with his research material. It would be complicated
for a researcher, alien to the maritime world, to understand and to
be able to assimilate to various situations in onboard cohabitation.
Factors making life onboard a ship different to work at any shore
establishment are: loneliness, family separation, peculiar life, limited space, traditions, habits, bad weather conditions etc. Therefore,
a point is that the researcher has some experience of the conditions
of the seafarers working conditions in order to understand what is
being said and what is meant.
Compared to seafarers, perhaps only prisoners (in some countries),
monks and researchers at odd places like the Antarctic have similar
social challenges. In addition, the work that seafarers do during long
voyages e.g. crossing the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic or the Indian
Ocean can sometimes be rather monotonous.
Above it is argued that a researcher working with mariners has
to know these working conditions in order to draw the right conclusions from their way of talking and behaviour etc. This statement would be accurate also for studies in MET where the students often are senior people with sea experience. A counter
argument might be that an uncoloured/inexperienced mind can
perhaps better see what it really is all about. In this particular
issue perhaps it is better that a person who knows the conditions
do the research. This statement also has its relevance when studying the students at MET institutions because they are geared
to this life and most of them already have some sea experience.
Their thinking is already coloured by their future occupation.
That the sample selection was not random in one of the conversation series, but selected, is not believed to disturb the trustworthiness; contrary, it probably gave the interviewer more data.
4. The fruitfulness tells if there is room for alternative interpretations. There is room for different and additional interpretations,
dependent on the researcher and his or her pre-comprehension.
Though, from the conclusions it is clear that the industry must
act on the problems of multicultural crews and be observant of
a future mixed MET classroom. The studies have not given a
one way interpretation of the pros and cons of work onboard
ships and maritime studies at MET institutions with culturally
mixed people. Further observations are needed.
It is argued by Ricoeur (in Alvesson and Sköldberg, 1994) that in
social science it is not empirical verifications that show that logic is
true but instead the logic of shaped arguments. With this in mind
an experienced researcher would be better suited in studies in areas
characterised as special and vocational.
It is quite clear that with globalisation also the MET education
system is faced with challenges to cope with racial integration
and harmony. Proper attention must also be focused on preparing
teachers to teach students of multicultural background. This has not
been a study objective in this research. Probably the MET subject
syllabuses need reviewing.
9.3 The need for future research
Sjögren (in von Brömssen, 2003, p. 70) realises that the art of
“pedagogy has to be rethought in a multicultural, transnational
and post-colonial world”. Sjögren criticises the repeated talk about
shortcomings in pedagogic contexts and also believes that all shortage
instead could be seen as recourses. McLaren (in von Brömssen, 2003,
p. 70) realises that knowledge and skills brought to the classroom
from different parts of the world should have the possibility to create
or not create in efforts to develop. With this reasoning, McLaren
expresses the need for the education to entail “teaching for hybrid
citizenry and multicultural solidarity” (ibid, p. 70).
It would be of interest to study how the teacher’s role is changed
in a classroom with a culturally mixed student body; additional
knowledge that would increase teacher’s competence. In addition to
this Säfström (1994, p. 132, author’s parenthesis) finds it of interest
to “… study the socialising content of different teaching practices …
to examine content in terms of contingent (dependent on) meaning”.
It means to have a “holistic object of knowledge … going beyond an
essentialist epistemology”. Probably an issue the MET should reflect
on because normally people do not need knowledge for the sake of
knowing; MET is vocational in the meaning occupational.
According to Bronfenbrenner future research should focus on the
interaction between the individual and his or her environment. This
would be an interesting study to do at the WMU where there are
not only different physical environments that have an impact on
the student and his/her learning but also many fellow students who
carry with them a number of impacts from their own cultures and
how these impressions can/cannot influence fellow students.
A follow up of this study should include more of the students’
different environments to analyse how study results are affected.
Lahdenperä (1997, p. 12, author’s free translation) sees three
important areas where research would be central in order to develop
knowledge in practical pedagogic work in a multicultural educational
Develop knowledge on how to educate and organise learning
Develop a multicultural content in intersubjects as well as in
specific subjects and in the working approach in schools and
universities etc.
Adapt teacher education to cope with multiculturalism
The above would also be highly relevant in the maritime education
field where there are no observations on how it is done today.
As pointed out by Jakobsson (2006), it would be interesting
to obtain knowledge on how students with different ethnic backgrounds collaborate and interact during a course. The reason being
that according to his study there seems to be significance in how
they interact. What constellations work better than others?
As mentioned in Chapter 4.3, further research is needed on pedagogies with a mixed student body. With reference to the readers of
this thesis, the target should be students in MET where such studies
are very scarce (read zero) at this moment. Another weighty argument for introducing this type of education is that when a student
fails in exams it is not necessarily because of the weak language but,
equally important, the existence of a cultural barrier.
This research has not studied what demands or requests or expectations that the students might have on the teachers and teaching in
different contexts. Research on such thinking would add to a better
understanding on how to adapt the actual teaching to accommodate
students’ cognitive styles.
Human behaviour is complex and truly multicultural human
behaviour is a conundrum but a better answer to the challenges of
industry because its globalisation can be found in proper research.
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The Baltic and International Maritime Council, the world’s largest
private shipping organization
Bridge resource management; courses for ships officers to learn
about teamwork appreciate the need and value of effective bridge
procedures etc. Other similar and mandatory courses are crowd and
crises management.
The Swedish Club has started courses in MRM (maritime resource
management) including subjects as attitudes, management skills,
cultural awareness, communication, authority, leadership, workload,
human involvement in error, decision making etc.
An EC research project on Maritime Education and Training Systems
in China, India, Indonesia, and Philippines, European Commission
Contract No. B97-B2 7040-SIN 2129-ETU-D4-MP, 1997-1998.
There is no established convention for the designation of “developed” and “developing” countries or areas in the United Nations
system. The UN has introduced a human development index
(HDI) that is a statistical measure that gauges a country’s level
of human development. Countries with an HDI of 0.8 or more,
largely corresponding to what the conventional definition of being a
’developed’ country is, exhibit high development.
Retrieved 18 May, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Learning English as a foreign language.
The aim of the teaching is to give the students the knowledge necessary to be able to read and talk in another language than one’s
mother tongue. This is the English taught at the WMU to the students before they enrol on the academic programme. The teaching
topics are linked to the maritime sphere i.e. the context is related
to IMO-issued conventions, codes and regulations; the blue books.
The teachers take care of the content.
Learning English as a second language.
Typically, this sort of English … is learned to function in the new
host country, … to perform the necessities of daily life, and the
teaching of it does not presuppose literacy in the mother tongue. It
is usually paid for by the host government to help newcomers settle
into their adopted country, sometimes as part of an explicit citizenship program.
Retrieved on 6 August, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language_learning_and_teaching
English and Study Skills Programme (at WMU).
It is required to participate in the WMU ESSP program if the TOEFL
scores are: CBT: 173-227, IBT: 61-87, PBT: 500-569. No ESSP required if the student’s scores are: CBT: 230+, IBT: 88+, PBT: 570+.
General Assembly
International Association of Maritime Universities. IAMU was
founded by seven universities representing the fi ve continents of the
world with a shared recognition of signifi cance of maritime education and training in the rapid globalization of the international
shipping arena.
Retrieved on 15 May, 2006 from http://www.iamuedu.org/general/
International Maritime Lecturers Association. The IMLA conference on MET is for decision makers in MET, i.e. senior staff of MET
institutions, representatives of educational and maritime authorities
responsible for MET, personnel managers of shipping companies,
trade union specialists dealing with sea-farers and other representatives of national and international organizations who are concerned
with MET.
Retrieved on 15 May, 2006 from
International Maritime Organisation is a special agency within the
See further Appendix 1.
The International Organisation of Independent Tanker Owners.
In 2006 ”… as a specifi c goal, its members will lead the continuous improvement of the Tanker Industry’s performance in striving
to achieve the goals of zero fatalities, zero pollution and zero detentions”.
Retrieved on 15 January, 2006 at http://www.intertanko.
ITOPF is a non-profi t making organisation, funded by the vast
majority of the world’s shipowners. We devote considerable effort
to a wide range of technical services, the most important of which is
responding to oil spills. Our technical advisers have attended onsite
at 500 spills in 90 countries.
Retrieved on 6 September 2006 on: http://www.itopf.com/
An EC research project on The impact of multilingual and multicultural crewing on maritime communications. European Commission Contract No. WA:96-1181.
The main objective of MARCOM is the achievement of successful
communications and the related improvement in maritime safety.
The research will deal with the fundamentals in maritime sociolinguistic communications and with ship-ship and ship-shore communication. The components of the study are : a) cross cultural relationships b) operational communications c) social communications
d) ship-ship communications e) ship to shore communications f)
language analysis g) common guidelines and syllabus h) fi nal integrated report.
Retrieved on 15 September, 2006 from: http://cordis.europa.eu/
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is an executive agency of the
UK Department of Transport
Harmonisation of Maritime Education and Training. – i) To contribute to the development of harmonized syllabuses and how those
could be implemented ii) To identify needs for the adaptation of
MET programmes to the requirements of the maritime industry iii)
To assess the impact of modern teaching technology on MET iv).
To provide for better understanding of the new STCW Convention
and suggest a harmonized approach to the meeting of the Convention requirements v) To enhance the employability and facilitate the
professional mobility of MET graduates within the maritime industry
and within European countries vi). To increase the competitiveness
of the European maritime industry by helping to improve the qualifi cations of seafarers and other maritime personnel. Retrieved on 15
May, 2006 from: http://www.cordis.lu/transport/src/methar.htm
A thematic network on maritime education, training and mobility
of seafarers. The main aims are to improve the quality, harmonize
the contents and extend the applicability of maritime education and
training for ship offi cers (MET) in the EU.
Retrieved on 17 January, 2006 from:
Is a school/academy where MET is conducted. Since the end of the
last century the most common nominative has become a maritime
institution for such establishments. In the past it was usually called
Maritime Academy
Abbreviations for Motor ship and Motor tanker
The Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) is a
voluntary association of oil companies having an interest in the shipment and terminalling of crude oil and oil products.
Retrieved on 15 May, 2006 from: http://www.ocimf.com
P&I Club
Protection and Indemnity Club.
RWTÜV Academy Middle East
Rheinisch-Westfälischer Technischer Überwachungsverein. Is an academy offering technical training and consultancy activities? Organisation that has established professional and academic relationships
with several internationally recognized universities and institutions.
Seaspeak is a simplifi ed language designed to facilitate maritime
communication. There are similar (hybrid) languages for aviation
and rail transport. While generally based on the English language,
seaspeak has a very small vocabulary, and will incorporate foreign
words where English does not have a suitable word. An example:
Could not hear what you said, please repeat becomes Say again.
Standard for Certifi cation and Watchkeeping – a key convention by
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
The acronym for the research section at University of Cardiff
United World Colleges. The German educationalist Kurt Hahn
envisaged a college for students aged 16 to 18 who were already
grounded in their own cultures but impressionable enough to learn
from others. Drawn from all nations, the students would be selected
purely on merit and potential, regardless of race, religion, nationality, background or fi nancial means.
Very High Frequency is radio frequencies between 30 MHz and 300
MHz i.e. wavelengths between 10 m and 1 m.
Statens väg-och transportforskningsinstitut. The Swedish Road
Administration’ research institute.
Retrieved on 15 January, 2006 from:
World Maritime University – the apex shipping education institution/university within IMO.
See further Appendix 2.
Appendix 1. International Maritime Organisation, IMO, a rule-
setting UN special agency
Shipping is perhaps the most international of all the world’s great
industries and one of the most dangerous. It has always been recognized that the best way of improving safety at sea is by developing international regulations that are followed by all shipping
nations and from the mid-19th century onwards a number of such
treaties were adopted. Several countries proposed that a permanent
international body should be established to promote maritime safety
more effectively, but it was not until the establishment of the United Nations itself that these hopes were realized. In 1948 an international conference in Geneva adopted a convention formally
establishing IMO (the original name was the Inter-Governmental
Maritime Consultative Organization, or IMCO, but the name was
changed in 1982 to IMO).
The IMO Convention entered into force in 1958 and the new
Organization met for the fi rst time the following year.
The purposes of the Organization, as summarized by Article 1(a) of
the Convention, are ”to provide machinery for cooperation among
Governments in the fi eld of governmental regulation and practices
relating to technical matters of all kinds affecting shipping engaged in international trade; to encourage and facilitate the general
adoption of the highest practicable standards in matters concerning
maritime safety, effi ciency of navigation and prevention and control
of marine pollution from ships”.
The Organization is also empowered to deal with administrative
and legal matters related to these purposes.
IMO’s fi rst task was to adopt a new version of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the most important
of all treaties dealing with maritime safety. This was achieved in
1960 and IMO then turned its attention to such matters as the facilitation of international maritime traffi c, load lines and the carriage
of dangerous goods, while the system of measuring the tonnage of
ships was revised.
But although safety was and remains IMO’s most important responsibility, a new problem began to emerge – pollution. The growth
in the amount of oil being transported by sea and in the size of oil
tankers was of particular concern and the Torrey Canyon disaster of
1967, in which 120,000 tonnes of oil was spilled, demonstrated the
scale of the problem.
During the next few years IMO introduced a series of measures
designed to prevent tanker accidents and to minimize their consequences. It also tackled the environmental threat caused by routine
operations such as the cleaning of oil cargo tanks and the disposal
of engine room wastes – in tonnage terms a bigger menace than accidental pollution.
The most important of all these measures was the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modifi ed by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78). It
covers not only accidental and operational oil pollution but also
pollution by chemicals, goods in packaged form, sewage, garbage
and air pollution.
IMO was also given the task of establishing a system for providing
compensation to those who had suffered fi nancially as a result of
pollution. Two treaties were adopted, in 1969 and 1971, which enabled victims of oil pollution to obtain compensation much more
simply and quickly than had been possible before. Both treaties were
amended in 1992, and again in 2000, to increase the limits of compensation payable to victims of pollution.
IMO also developed a number of other legal conventions, most of
which concern liability and compensation issues.
Shipping, like all of modern life, has seen many technological innovations and changes. Some of these have presented challenges for
the Organization and others have presented opportunities. The
enormous strides made in communications technology, for example,
have made it possible for IMO to introduce major improvements to
the maritime distress system.
In the 1970s a global search and rescue system was initiated. The
1970s also saw the establishment of the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO), which has greatly improved the provision
of radio and other messages to ships.
In 1992 a further advance was made when the Global Maritime
Distress and Safety System began to be phased in. In February 1999,
the GMDSS became fully operational, so that now a ship that is in
distress anywhere in the world can be virtually guaranteed assistance, even if the ship’s crew do not have time to radio for help, as
the message will be transmitted automatically.
Other measures introduced by IMO have concerned the safety of
containers, bulk cargoes, liquefi ed gas tankers and other ship types. Special attention has been paid to crew standards, including the
adoption of a special convention on standards of training, certifi cation and watchkeeping.
The adoption of maritime legislation is still IMO’s most important
concern. Around 40 conventions and protocols have been adopted
by the Organization and most of them have been amended on several occasions to ensure that they are kept up to date with changes
taking place in world shipping.
But adopting treaties is not enough – they have to be put into effect.
This is the responsibility of Governments and there is no doubt that
the way in which this is done varies considerably from country to
IMO has introduced measures to improve the way legislation is implemented, by assisting fl ag States (the countries whose fl ag a ship
fl ies) and by encouraging the establishment of regional port State
control systems. When ships go to foreign ports they can be inspected to ensure that they meet IMO standards. By organizing these inspections on a regional rather than a purely national basis resources
can be used more effi ciently.
IMO has also developed a technical cooperation programme which
is designed to assist Governments which lack the technical knowledge and resources that are needed to operate a shipping industry
successfully. The emphasis of this programme is very much on training and perhaps the best example is the World Maritime University
in Malmö, Sweden, which was established in 1983 and provides
advanced training for the men and women involved in maritime administration, education and management.
Two initiatives in the 1990s are especially important. On 1 July
1998 the International Safety Management Code entered into force
and became applicable to passenger ships, oil and chemical tankers,
bulk carriers, gas carriers and cargo high speed craft of 500 gross
tonnage and above. It became applicable to other cargo ships and
mobile offshore drilling units of 500 gross tonnage and above not
later than 1 July 2002.
On 1 February 1997, the 1995 amendments to the International
Convention on Standards of Training, Certifi cation and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 entered into force. They greatly improve
seafarer standards and, for the fi rst time, give IMO itself powers to
check Government actions.
It is expected that these two measures, by raising standards of management and shipboard personnel, will greatly improve safety and
pollution prevention in the years to come.
The emphasis on the socalled ”human element” remains paramount
for IMO.
Meanwhile, IMO has seen a renewed focus on security issues since
the terrorist atrocities in the United States in September 2001.
A new, comprehensive security regime for international shipping is
set to enter into force in July 2004 following the adoption by a week
long Diplomatic Conference in December 2002 of a series of measures to strengthen maritime security and prevent and suppress acts
of terrorism against shipping. The Conference was of crucial signifi cance not only to the international maritime community but the
world community as a whole, given the pivotal role shipping plays
in the conduct of world trade.
Retrieved on 31 July, 2006 from http://www.imo.org/home.asp
with auther´s amendments.
Appendix 2. World Maritime University, WMU, an apex IMO
maritime education institution
WMU was founded in 1983 by the International Maritime Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations
The University offers only postgraduate degrees: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Master of Science (MSc), Postgraduate Diploma (PGD)
and Postgraduate Certifi cate (PGC)
In Malmö, we offer a programme leading to a Master of Science in
Maritime Affairs. Students can specialise in one of six areas: Maritime Safety & Environmental Administration, Maritime Law & Policy, Integrated Coastal & Ocean Management, Port Management,
Shipping Management and Maritime Education & Training
WMU offers two PhD programmes: one in Maritime Administration, taught in Malmö; the other in Maritime Law, taught jointly
with the University of Wales Swansea in Britain.
From 2005 onwards, two new programmes have been offered in
China: one in Shanghai, leading to a Master of Science in International Transport & Logistics, and one in Dalian, leading to a Master
of Science in Maritime Safety & Environmental Management. The
programmes are designed and taught by WMU professors, and the
academic standards are the same as in Malmö
WMU also provides an extensive programme of short term Professional Development Courses, joined by about 200 students each year,
which offer high-quality professional updating
WMU admits about 100 students to the Malmö programme each
year, giving a total student body of about 200 in Sweden. An additional 100 students are admitted each year to the programmes in
The students graduating in 2005 bring the total of graduates from
the Malmö programme to almost 2,100 from 144 countries around
the world. About 35% have been from Asia, 32% from Africa,
14% from Latin American & the Caribbean, 12% from the Middle
East & North Africa, and 5% from Europe and North America
WMU has made real efforts to attract more female students. Since
2000, women have made up over 20% of each intake
WMU graduates take up senior positions as managers, administrators, policy advisers and educators in the maritime fi eld
The University receives no funding from the UN system, but is fi nanced by voluntary contributions from governments, organisations and
companies worldwide. The main donors are Sweden, the Nippon
Foundation and the Ocean Policy Research Foundation of Japan,
Norway, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, Canada,
Britain, France, INMARSAT Ltd and Republic of Korea
About 70% of the students are funded by donated fellowships.
About 30% are funded by their employer, government, or from personal sources
The University’s programmes and research are aimed fi rmly at the
maritime industry. Over 100 Visiting Professors, international experts in their fi elds, come to Malmö each year to contribute to the
MSc programme, and students take part in fi eld studies, visits to
companies and organisations in Europe and Asia
Source: Assistant Administrator S. Jackson (31 July, 2006).
Appendix 3a. First year: Grade distribution between 2001 and
2005; gender.


















Appendix 3b. Second year: Grade distribution between 2001 and
2005; gender.








Appendix 4. Approvals to use the papers drawn upon in this thesis.
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Figure 1. Variable factors having an input on a company’s policy [5].
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An analysis of decision-making processes
5. Method
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H;6G3> 5A@H7DE3F;A@E I;F: EFG67@FE ;@ 9DAGBE 3EE;9@76 FA EA>H7 35FG3> F3E=E D7>3F76
FA E:;BB;@9 35F;H;F;7E 4AF: A@4A3D6 E:;B 3@6 3F 5A?B3@K :736 AN57
+:7 5A@H7DE3F;A@E I7D7 FD3@E5D;476 3@6 3@3>KE76 *A?7 9DAGB IAD=E I7D7 H;67A
F3B76 ?3=;@9 ;F BAEE;4>7 FA 3@3>KE7 735: 9DAGB ?7?47DE EA5;3> ;@F7D35F;A@ EFK>7 +:7
D73EA@ 8AD F:7 D7E73D5: I3E 3>EA FA P@6 AGF ;8 F:7 76G53F;A@ 67>;H7D76 3F .$, ;E
8AEF7D;@9 8GFGD7 675;E;A@?3=7DE 3@6 F73? IAD=7DE 4GF F:3F ;E @AF 6;E5GEE76 ;@ F:;E
6. Some research findings
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$3EF7D $3D;@7DE @AD?3>>K 3E >7367DE ;@ F:7;D D;9:F 7@H;DA@?7@F ;@E;EF A@ :3H;@9
F:7;D AB;@;A@E AD67DE 53DD;76 AGF +:7K 3D7 3F F:7 E3?7 F;?7 D736K FA 5A?BDA?;E7
4GF 8AD F:7 9AA6 E3=7 A8 =77B;@9 :3D?A@K ;@ F:7 9DAGB 3@6 FA E:AI F:3F F:7 9DAGB
53@ 39D77 ;@ 3 ?A67 A8 5A@E7@EGE +:7 ?3D;@7DE 79A 3@6 BD;67 IAG>6 47 :GDF ;8 F:;E
5AG>6 @AF 47 35:;7H76
+:7 E;3@E >;=7 FA F3=7 @AF7E 3@6 3>EA 3EEGD7 F:7?E7>H7E F:3F I:3F :3E 477@
39D776 3>EA ;E F3=7@ FA F:7 BDAFA5A> +:7 ?7D;53@E 0 1 47;@9 AGFEBA=7@ F7@6 FA
F3=7 F:7 >736 +:7 5A@F7JF A8 F:7E7 7J7D5;E7E I3E H7DK E7D;AGE EA F:7 EFG67@FE 6;6
I3EF7 ?G5: F;?7 >3G9:;@9
DAGB E;L7E H3D;76 47FI77@ PH7 FA E7H7@ B7DEA@E +:7 FKB7E A8 9DAGB IAD=E :3H7
;@ F:;E D7BADF 477@ 9;H7@ A@>K 3 E:ADF 67E5D;BF;A@ ;@ AD67D 8AD F:7 B3DF;5;B3F;@9
EFG67@FE FA @AF 73E;>K 47 34>7 FA ;67@F;8K F:7?E7>H7E AD 5A>>739G7E +34>7E 3@6
;67@F;8K EA?7 P@6;@9E 8DA? F:7 9DAGB IAD=E +:7 P9GD7E 3@6 F:7 F7JF EB73= 8AD
F:7?E7>H7E AI7H7D 3 87I ?;J76 D7?3D=E 8DA? F:7E7 3@6 AF:7D 9DAGB IAD=E 8A>>AI
J. Horck
Table 1. Behaviour observations 1 [13]. Adopted by A. Soucy
DAGB 3@6
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*G??3D;L7E ;673E 



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*G997EFE 3>F7D@3F;H7E  
‘A;@FE AGF 6;M7D7@57E 3?A@9 ;673E   
‘A;@FE AGF E;?;>3D;F;7E D7>3F;A@E 3?A@9 ;673E
66E :G?AGD

5=@AI>7697E AF:7DE 877>;@9E

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An analysis of decision-making processes

Table 2. Behaviour observations 2.
 A@Q;5FE A@Q;5FE I7D7 @AF76 ;M7D7@F AB;@;A@E ;@ F:7 D3@=;@9 A@Q;5FE :3H7 477@ ;@ 4AF: 9DAGBE 4GF I7>>
 !AK8G> ?A?7@F %AF:;@9 EB75;3> @AF76  B73578G> 9DAGB ;@F7D35F;A@ @ DAGB B7D:3BE F:7 ?7D;53@ FD;76 FA 73E7
F:7 3F?AEB:7D7
@ DAGB A@7 A8 F:7 8D;53@E FD;76 F:7 E3?7
AF: 9DAGBE E:AI76 97@7D3> H;H35;FK 6GD;@9 F:7

 #7367DE:;B %A@7 I3E F3=;@9 F:7 >736  @3FGD3> >7367D FAA= 5A??3@6 @ 4AF: 9DAGBE F:7 ?AEF =@AI>769734>7 3>EA
E77?76 FA >736 F:7 9DAGB IAD=
 $;EG@67DEF3@6;@9E ‘7D:3BE A@ >3@9G397 ‘7D:3BE A@ F75:@;53> ?3FF7DE @ 4AF: 9DAGBE FA 57DF3;@ 7JF7@F F:7 >3@9G397
F:7@ F:7 BDA@G@5;3F;A@E 3@6 F:7 6;M7D7@57 ;@
F75:@;53> =@AI>7697 I7D7 EA?7F;?7E F:7 D73EA@
8AD ?;EG@67DEF3@6;@9E F:3F :36 FA 47 EADF76 AGF
 A@E7@EGE 675;E;A@ %AF GEG3>>K 4753GE7 BD7E7@F7D
BD7E7@F76 EA?7F:;@9 6;M7D7@F 8DA?
I:3F 9DAGB :36 39D776 GBA@
7@7D3>>K K7E 38F7D 5A?BDA?;E;@9
4K EA?7 A8 F:7 B3DF;5;B3@FE
AF: 9DAGBE 67H7>AB76 3 E7D;7E A8 3D9G?7@FE
6GD;@9 F:7 BD76;E5GEE;A@ B:3E7
 D9G?7@FE 8D;53@ ?7D;53@
 +3=;@9 @AF7E E;3@ E;3@ >> B3DF;5;B3@FE ;@ F:7 FIA 9DAGBE ?367 @AF7E FA
EA?7 7JF7@F
 75;E;A@ ?3=7D %A@7T;8 EA F:7 ?7D;53@ ?7D;53@ DAGB ?7?47DE >;=76 FA 7?B:3E;L7 F:3F ;F I3E 3
5A>>75F;H7 3@6 E:3D;@9 35F;H;FK
 *73F;@9 Ad hoc Ad hoc %A4A6K :36 D73>>K EB75G>3F76 A@ I:7D7 FA E;F
3DAG@6 F:7 F34>7 ‘DA434>K F:7K 3D7 G@3I3D7 A8
I:3F 2BAI7D ;F 53@ :3H7

 .:A 8D;53@ ?7D;53@ A@E7@EGE 3@EI7DE 8DA? 4AF: 9DAGBE 3@6 F:7;D
 ;6 ?7?47DE >;EF7@
FA 735: AF:7D
/7E /7E +:7 D75AD6;@9 F:AG9: F7>>E F:3F ?7?47DE 73E;>K
87>> ;@FA AF:7DE F3>= ;7 @AF I3;F;@9 G@F;> AF:7D
EB73=7D P@;E:76 :;E :7D E7@F7@57
 .:A FAA= >736
;@ 6;E5GEE;A@ 38F7D
F:7 BD7E7@F3F;A@
E;3@ E;3@
  Case 1
+:7 8A>>AI;@9 :3E 477@ @AF76 8DA? 3 9DAGB 7J7D5;E7 0 1 I:7D7 EFG67@FE 6;E5GEE
I:K 3 E:;B >A3676 I;F: F;?47D 3DD;H7E 3F BADF I;F: :3>8 A8 F:7 53D9A :3@9;@9 AH7D
F:7 E:;BE E;67 $AEF A8 F:7 >3E:;@9E I7D7 4DA=7@ +:7 EFG67@FE E:AG>6 7JB>3;@
I:3F I7@F IDA@9 3@6 I:K 3@6 3>EA D3@= F:7 35F;H;F;7E F:3F E:AG>6 :3H7 477@ 6A@7
FA BD7H7@F EG5: 3@ 355;67@F +A D3@= ?73@E F:3F F:7 9DAGB ?7?47DE :36 FA 5A?7 FA
3 5A@E7@EGE 675;E;A@ ;7 @AF HAF;@9
+:7 BDA4>7? ;E >;@=76 FA 3 E:;B4A3D6 35F;H;FK  ?373D>K E7>75F76 8DA? F:7 FIA 9DAGBE &@7 53@ P@6 5A@FD;4GF;@9 D7BD7E7@
F3F;H7E 8DA? 3>> 5A@F;@7@FE GF F:7 ?7D;53@E E77? 3 4;F ?AD7 I;>>;@9 F:3@ AF:7DE
FA 5A@FD;4GF7 I;F: ;673E +A 3E= AF:7DE 8AD ;673E :3E @AF 477@ 3 5:3D35F7D;EF;5 8AD 3@K
A8 F:7 B3DF;5;B3@FE H;67@F>K F:7D7 :3E 477@ @A @776 8AD EG5: 3@ 35F;H;FK +:7
E;3@E 3 >;FF>7 ?AD7 F:3@ F:7 AF:7DE E:AI76 3 @776 FA D7?;@6 F:7 AF:7DE A8 F:7
F3E= +:7 8D;53@E 0 1 4AF: EGBBADF 3@6 6;E39D77 3@6 3F F:7 E3?7 F;?7 F:7K EG997EF
;673E +:7 8D;53@E 3>EA I;E: FA 47 5A@PD?76 ;@ F:7 675;E;A@E F3=7@ +:7K I3@F
BDAA8 3@6 ;@ F:;E I3K F:7K 7JBD7EE 3 I;E: FA >73D@
  Case 2
+:7 8A>>AI;@9 :3E 477@ @AF76 8DA? 3 9DAGB 7J7D5;E7 0 1 I:7D7 F:7 EFG67@FE 6;E5GEE
6;M7D7@F BAEE;4;>;F;7E FA E75GD7 3 >A36 A8 9D3;@ 53D9A ;@ 3 97@7D3> 53D9A E:;B +:7
5D;F7D;3 8AD D3@=;@9 I7D7 5AEF >7H7> A8 E387FK 3@6 7M75F;H7@7EE
+:;E ;E 3@AF:7D BDA4>7? >;@=76 FA 3 E:;B4A3D6 35F;H;FK @ F:;E 7J7D5;E7 ;F I3E
@AF76 F:3F F:7D7 I7D7 EA?7 5A@Q;5FE F:AG9: ?;@AD $3@K E7383D7DE 3D7 @3FGD3>>K
E7D;AGE 4753GE7 A8 F:7;D :;9: IAD= D7EBA@E;4;>;F;7E @ F:;E 7J7D5;E7 3>> EFG67@FE FAA=
F:7 E;FG3F;A@ 7CG3>>K E7D;AGE>K 3@6 F:7D78AD7 @AF ?G5: DAA? I3E 9;H7@ FA
?A?7@FE F ;E 3 5A@5>GE;A@ I;F: E>;9:F ?A6;P53F;A@ 4753GE7 ;@ F:7 9DAGBE I;F: only
E7383D7DE 3 9D73F7D 3@;?3F;A@ BD7H3;>76 @ 9DAGBE I;F: 4AF: E7383D7DE 3@6 @A@
E7383D7DE ?;EG@67DEF3@6;@9E A8F7@ :3BB7@76 .;F: EA?7 6;N5G>F;7E F:7E7 9DAGBE
:3H7 477@ 34>7 FA 5A?7 FA 3 5A@E7@EGE 675;E;A@ +:7 E7383D7DE 6;6 @AF 6;D75F>K
F3=7 5A??3@6 A8 F:7 9DAGBE 4GF ?;9:F :3H7 :36 3@ ;@6;D75F 5A??3@6 *7>6A?
I3E 3 5>73D 9DAGB >7367D 3BBA;@F76 %AD?3>>K ;F ;E F:7 B7DEA@ I:A BAEE7EE7E 47FF7D
=@AI>7697 ;@ F:7 EG4<75F F:3F F3=7E F:7 >736 ;@ F:7 9DAGB F ;E @AF F:7 B7DEA@ I;F:
47FF7DEBA=7@ @9>;E: AD F:7 53BF3;@ I:A >736E F:7 9DAGB *FG67@FE 7?B:3E;L7 F:3F
F:7 D7EG>F 5A?7E 8DA? F;7E I7D7 E:AI@ ;@ ?;J76 E7383D7D 3@6
@A@E7383D7D 9DAGBE 4753GE7 F:7 E7383D7DE BDA434>K :36 H7DK 6;M7D7@F AB;@;A@E
F:3@ F:7 ?7?47DE I;F: 35367?;5 435=9DAG@6E +:7 F75:@;53> >3@9G397 GE76 4K
F:7 E7383D7DE 3@6 3>EA F:7;D 6;M7D7@F I3K A8 BDA@AG@5;@9 @9>;E: IAD6E 5AG>6
7JB>3;@ EA?7 A8 F:7 5A@8GE;A@E +:7 35367?;5E 3D7 @AF GE76 FA EG5: =;@6 A8 F3>=;@9

 Case 3
+:7 8A>>AI;@9 :3E 477@ @AF76 8DA? 3 9DAGB 7J7D5;E7 0 1 I:7D7 F:7 EFG67@FE
9DAGB76 3E E:;B AI@7DE E:AG>6 39D77 A@ 3 PJ 8AD 3 F;?75:3DF7D 7@9397?7@F
+:DAG9:AGF @79AF;3F;A@E F:7 ?AEF BDAPF34>7 4;66;@9 I3E F:7 ?AEF EG557EE8G>
9DAGB .;F:;@ F:7 9DAGB F:7 ?3@K 4;6E :36 FA 47 39D776 GBA@
+:;E ;E 3 BDA4>7? >;@=76 FA 3 ?3D;F;?7 E:AD7 35F;H;FK %A 6;EF;@5F 5A@5>GE;A@ 5AG>6
47 ?367 4K E3K;@9 F:3F E7383D7DE ?AD7 73E;>K 363BF FA IAD= ;@ ?G>F;5G>FGD3> E7FF;@9E
*7383D7DE >;=7 7H7DK4A6K 7>E7 3BB3D7@F>K @776 76G53F;A@ ;@ ;@F7D5G>FGD3> G@67D
EF3@6;@9 A@FD3DK FA 9DAGBE I;F: A@>K IA?7@ AD 9DAGBE I;F: @A E7383D7DE F:7
9DAGBE I;F: 3 ?;JFGD7 A8 E7383D7DE 3@6 >3@6>G447DE :36 ?AD7 6;N5G>F;7E 5A?;@9
 J. Horck
FA 3 5A@E7@EGE 675;E;A@ +:7 E7383D7DE E7>6A? FAA= F:7 5A??3@6 ;@ F:7E7 9DAGBE
‘7D:3BE F:7K D73>;L76 F:3F F:7D7 3D7 AF:7DE I:A :3H7 9D73F7D 5A?B7F7@57 3@6 E=;>> FA
>736 3 6;E5GEE;A@ @ F:;E 7J7D5;E7 F:7 5AAB7D3F;A@ 47FI77@ E7@;AD E:AD7 EF3M E:AIE
F:3F 5A@Q;5FE ;@ 9DAGB 675;E;A@?3=;@9E 3D7 @AF 3 H7DK 4;9 BDA4>7? +:7 A4E7DH3
F;A@E ;@ F:7 H3D;AGE 9DAGBE ;@6;53F7 F:3F F:7 EFG67@FE E:AI D7EB75F 8AD 735: AF:7D %A
:3DE: IAD6E I7D7 GFF7D76 3@6 @A4A6K D3;E76 F:7;D HA;57 *FG67@FE E7D;AGE>K >;EF7@76
FA ;673E 3@6 :A@7EF>K FD;76 FA 5A?7 FA 3 G@3@;?AGE 675;E;A@ +:7K 3>EA D73>;L76 F:3F
F:7K 53@ >73D@ 8DA? 735: AF:7D &@7 A8 F:7 ;EEG7E F:3F 5AG>6 47 366D7EE76 >3F7D
IAG>6 47 I:7F:7D F:7 D73EA@ 8AD A@>K ?;@AD 6;E39D7734>7 5A@E7CG7@57E I7D7 F:7;D
97@7D3>>K :;9:7D ;@F7>>75FG3> >7H7>
 ?37? I3E F:3F H7DK E7>6A? I3E 3@ G@67DEF3@634>7 E7@F7@57 8AD?G
>3F76 AI7H7D EFG67@FE I7D7 @AD?3>>K 9;H7@ F;?7 FA F3>= I;F:AGF 47;@9 ;@F7DDGBF76
&8F7@ F:7 E7@F7@57 AD B3DF A8 F:7 E7@F7@57 :36 FA 47 D7B73F76 @AF:7D A4E7DH3F;A@
;E F:3F F:7 H3>G7E A8 IAD6E H3DK +:7E7 FIA A4E7DH3F;A@E :3H7 E7D;AGE 5A@E7CG7@57E
;@ E:;B 5D;E7E E;FG3F;A@E ;@ 4A3D6?77F;@9E I:7D7 CG;5= EA>GF;A@E 3@6 675;E;A@E :3H7
FA 47 F3=7@ AD I:7@ 3EE7EE;@9 EFG67@FE @ 3 @AD?3> 5>3EEDAA? A4E5GD7 IAD6E 3D7
7CG3> FA 6;? F:;@=;@9 3@6 F:7@ ;F ;E ;@F7DBD7F76 3E >35= A8 =@AI>7697 +:7 F735:7DE
E:AG>6 F:7D78AD7 @AF 7 H3D;AGE ;673E E:AG>6 35F 3E
87DF;>;L7D 3@6 @AF 3E 3 4>A5=367 +:;E 47:3H;AGD A8 7J5:3@97 3BB73DE FA 47 6;M7D7@F
;@ 5G>FGD7E *I767E 8AD 7J3?B>7 3D7 =@AI@ 8AD 3HA;6;@9 6;E5GEE;A@E I;F: B7AB>7 A8
6;M7D;@9 AB;@;A@E F:@A9D3B:7DE ?73@ F:3F F:7 *I767E BD787D FA F3>= I;F: B7AB>7
I;F: E;?;>3D H;7IE FA F:7;D AI@ 0 1
+:7 9DAGB ?7?47DE BAE;F;A@;@9 3DAG@6 F:7 F34>7E 5AG>6 :3H7 3@ ;?BADF3@F
;?B35F A@ F:7 BAEE;4;>;F;7E FA 5A@H;@57 6GD;@9 6;E5GEE;A@E +:7 675;E;A@ CG3>;FK
67B7@6E A@ F:7 BAEE;4;>;F;7E FA :3H7 KAGD HA;57 :73D6 F ;E =@AI@ F:3F B7DEA@E E;FF;@9
ABBAE;F7 735: AF:7D F3>= ?AD7 FA 735: AF:7D F:3@ B7AB>7 E;FF;@9 E;67 4K E;67 *FG67@FE
E73F;@9 3DD3@97?7@FE ;@ 3>?AEF 3>> 53E7E ;@ F:;E D7E73D5: I7D7 D3@6A? 3@6 @AF
55AD6;@9 FA D8I76EA@ ;@6;H;6G3> D7>3F;A@E ;@5D73E7 83EF7D F:3@ F:7 @G?47D A8
;@6;H;6G3>E ;@ F:7 9DAGB 0 1 F ;E ;?BADF3@F FA D73>;L7 F:;E I:7@ 675;6;@9 :AI 4;9 3
9DAGB E:AG>6 47 F ;E 5DG5;3> :AI 83EF F:7 9DAGB 53@ BDA6G57 EA?7F:;@9 I;F: CG3>;FK
DAGBE :3H7 3 F7@67@5K FA 8A5GE A@ E:3D76 ;@8AD?3F;A@ 3@6 @79>75F ;@8AD?3F;A@
F:3F ;E G@;CG7 FA 3 E;@9>7 9DAGB ?7?47D DAGB ?7?47DE A8F7@ 6A @AF 5A@EA>;63F7
F:7 675;E;A@ ?367 4K F:7 9DAGB A>>AI;@9 A@ 8DA? F:;E ;E F:3F D7EB75F 8AD AF:7DE ;E
A@7 A8 F:7 9G;6;@9 BD;@5;B>7E A8 3 ?G>F;5G>FGD3> EA5;7FK
“3@7D EF3F7E F:3F 6;M7D7@F 5G>FGD3> H3>G7E ?3=7 B7AB>7 6;E39D77 D3F:7D F:3@ 39D77
1 +:;E ;E ?3@;87EF76 I:7@ F:7 B7DEA@ 5A?7E 8DA? 3 5G>FGD7 F:3F ;E 3 >AF 6;M7D7@F
8DA? F:7 D7EF ;@ F:7 9DAGB @ EG5: 5;D5G?EF3@57E ;@F7D5G>FGD3> 5AAB7D3F;A@ :3E
475A?7 3 BD;?7 5A@6;F;A@ 8AD F:7 EGDH;H3> A8 ?3@=;@6 0 1
+A EGDH;H7 ;@ 3 ?G>F;5G>FGD3> IAD>6 A@7 6A7E @AF @776 FA F:;@= 877> 3@6 35F ;@ F:7
E3?7 I3K ;@ AD67D FA 39D77 3@6 5AAB7D3F7 0 1 ,@67DEF3@6 KAGD AI@ 5G>FGD3>
H3>G7E 3@6 F:7 5G>FGD3> H3>G7E A8 AF:7DE I;F: I:A? A@7 :3E FA 5AAB7D3F7 3@6 F:7
43E;5 E=;>> A8 EGDH;H3> I;>> 47 35:;7H76
+:7 ;@HA>H7?7@F AD 35F;H7 B3DF;5;B3F;A@ ;@ 9DAGBE :3E 97@7D3>>K 477@ EF77D76 ?AD7
4K F:7 7MADF FA 47 34>7 FA E:AI F:3F F:7 9DAGB :3E 477@ 34>7 FA 8AD?G>3F7 3 H;34>7
3@6 F75:@;53>>K 5ADD75F 3@EI7D FA 3 9;H7@ BDA4>7? G7 FA F:7 F3E=AD;7@F76 9DAGB
An analysis of decision-making processes 
?7?47DE ;@ F:;E D7E73D5: F:7 ;@HA>H7?7@F 5AG>6 47 53F79AD;L76 3E H3>G7D7>7H3@F
@ F:;E I3K F:7 ?7?47DE 3D7 >76 FA EGBBD7EE F:7;D AI@ 6;EE7@F ;@ F:7 ;@F7D7EFE A8
DAGBE ;@:;4;F @3FGD3> 5D;F;5;E? 0
1 I:;5: 53?7 AGF I7>> ;@ F:;E D7E73D5: %A
;@5A@E;67D3F7 IAD6E 47FI77@ F:7 ?7?47DE ;@ 3@K 9DAGBE 5AG>6 47 @AF;576 +:;E ;E 3
D7EG>F A8 F:7 EF3F7?7@F 4GF 5AG>6 3>EA 47 3 D7EG>F A8 F:7 835F F:3F 9DAGB B3DF;5;B3@FE A8
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References and Notes
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 Transnational Seafarer Communities
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religio¨sa fra˚gor som psykoterapeuten mo¨ter i sitt arbete *FA5=:A>? 7D>;@9E+DK5=?3@E
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BD7E7@F76 3F F:7 EK?BAE;G? 8AD Qualitative Research in Psychology ;@ ‘7DG9;3 F3>K
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 rfwedson  3@6 rfwedson    Arbete i lag och grupp *FA5=:A>?
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 “aner *  Facilitator’s guide to participatory decision-making 34D;A>3 E>3@6
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Cooperation and its Importance for Survival %7I /AD= $5D3I;>>

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 !anis    Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascos
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An analysis of decision-making processes 





Over the last thirty years, the world
merchant fleet has become significantly multi-lingual and multicultural in crew composition. Today,
about two thirds of the world’s merchant
marine vessels sail with a crew composed
of several nationalities.
At times, the crew mixture may experience
behavioural problems both at work and off
duty that can affect ship’s safety, pollution
prevention and security. In the past, casualty investigators have not studied interpersonal situations/relations in their investigations. Reports on the impact of human relations are almost non-existent. This paper
seeks to provide awareness of, the benefits
of mixed crewing.
From the title of this presentation, one could
assume that a ship sailing with a multi-cultural crew is a positive and interesting challenge. This is as it should be. If not, it may
indicate that the managers of mixed crews
may lack awareness, knowledge or simply do
not dare take advantage of this opportunity.
Surely, the reason for having this subject on
the agenda is that many owners have difficulties managing multi-cultural crews. That
this subject is discussed in many maritime
forums indicates that we are not taking full
advantage of ethnic mixtures and that we do
have a problem. This problem will grow unless we quickly find a sustainable way of how
to work together. With less prejudice and
stereotyping in this multicultural-setting this
might be feasible.
Perhaps the industry needs to follow the example of someone like Alexander the Great
and do something drastic or extreme. Or do
as the Norwegian shipping company, JO
Tankers that has decided to change most of
its EU officer’s contingent to Filipino officers (Frank, 2005). I think we have a probGetting the best from
multi-cultural manning
By Jan Horck
lem here. Well, most of us have problems,
but here we are faced with a challenge that
should not be denied or run away from. It is
not a big problem today, and perhaps not
tomorrow either, but in the near future it certainly will be unless we take a closer look at
the occurrence of ethnic mixtures on board
ships, in maritime education and training
classrooms and in company boardrooms.
A true global shipping community requires
co-operation with both cultural and language
boundaries. For most players in the industry, this does not seem to be the case. The
joint website Alert!, by Lloyds Register and
the Nautical Institute, shows there is a concern. Really, all of the facts are needed to
understand why accidents happen.
More than once, co-operation has been an
International Maritime Organization (IMO)
theme and that applies also to managing
mixed crews. In fact, recruitment practices,
as carried out at some places today, could be
a serious threat to both the ISM Code and
the Revised STCW 78 (STCW 95) where it
is understood that crews must be committed
(loyal, devoted, dedicated) and able to communicate effectively free from prejudice (discrimination, chauvinism, intolerance). With
increasing workforce mobility, this issue has
become a particular challenge for shipowners (hereafter owners) within the European
Union. Sadly, the European seafarer has become an alien species. Notably, this is not
only the case for European seafarers but also
for Japanese, Malaysians and other.
Many owners worldwide use mixed crews.
Is this a forced necessity, undertaken only
for commercial reasons? Are there other intentions/benefits? A multi-faceted crew is in
itself nothing new. Have we learnt from the
past? In the old days, the “foreigners” in the
fleet were seen as a compliment to nationals.
There were a lot of people on board
An effort to manage
human resource challenges
28 BIMCO BULLETIN · VOLUME 100 · NO. 4 · 2005
30 BIMCO BULLETIN · VOLUME 100 · NO. 4 · 2005
and we had time to check each other
to ensure there were no misunderstandings
and mistakes; sometimes a result of bad communication. There are not many comments
on mixed crews from those days. An interesting exception, for instance, is the research
done by the internationally respected Dr.
David Moreby (1990) concerning Communication problems inherent in a cross-cultural manning environment.
To improve productivity through people
could be a positive experience even in a
multi-cultural PHD thesis setup. A prerequisite would be
that the company has a policy that promotes
this approach and that everyone on board
realises that there are benefits. A policy is
needed because work ethics vary not only
between individuals but also among groups
of people. With globalisation comes the need
for effective communication and cultural
awareness, both important management parameters that should be clearly recognized
in a company’s policy.
A well-trained, safety-communicating crew
has become a prerequisite and a mandatory
requirement in today’s shipping. To ensure
this, several P&I Clubs conduct human-factor training programmes. Insurance companies take a proactive interest in preventing accidents; owners should be equally proactive.
We should all take an interest because “Skills
and motivation do not have anything to do
with nationality” (Hooper, 2004a, p.37).
A wide range of activities can assist when
things go wrong. Shortcomings in procedures, practices, equipment and erroneous
acts are contributory causes for things that
can go wrong (Hooper, 2004b). Other
causations are a lack of communication and
stereotyping that could trigger an accident
or an incident before, sometimes long before, it actually happens.
A serious problem is stereotyping and judging people with the wrong measurements.
When we judge others who we do not know,
we interpret the meaning of the reason for the
behaviour of someone from another culture
usually with emotion. The problem appears
when we do not know the values, perspectives
and approaches used by the other culture.
Today, many accidents are explained by human factors (70-80%) often sub-headed by
clarifications like fatigue and bad ergonomics. There might be an equally important reason for human factors and that is multi-cultural misconceptions, power distance (a subaltern’s respect to superiors), stereotyping
and substandard communication.
Previous studies
A few recent studies generally conclude that
ships operating with multi-cultural crews are
not without problems. Since the reports are
often contradictory, owners and others must
be confused. Below are four of these studies
to illustrate this:
1) SIRC, in Cardiff, published Transnational Seafarer Communities saying:
“…when supported effectively (mixed
crews), can operate extremely successfully”
(Kahveci, 2001, p.26, my adding in brackets,
my underlining).
2) A Swedish ethnographer published
Isolde av Singapore with a general remark
that the Captain was worried almost every
day (Horck, 2004a).
3) The Philippine National Maritime Polytechnic published a report The Experiences
of Filipino Seafarers in a Mix Nationality
Crew concluding that there are some problems (Devanadera, 2003).
4) In An analysis of decision-making processes in multicultural maritime scenarios it
is concluded that the issue is not problem
free (Horck, 2004b).
Four times problematical: no wonder JO
Tankers are going to change to a more homogenous crew.
No researcher, to my knowledge, has been
able to show or identify any real benefits of
having a mixed crew. Owners should express
their views on mixed crews more openly,
because this is in everybody’s interest and
above all in the interest of ship safety.
With these research studies in mind I am inclined to question whether there a maritime
capability to communicate? We certainly
cannot afford to make mistakes and take
wrong decisions, neither on board nor in
company boardrooms, because of mis-communication by not understanding the meaning of what is said due to cultural differences,
prejudice, power distance and stereotyping.
Culture and authority
One could ask oneself how many persons
from the same culture group are needed for
the group “to group”. Knudsen (2004, p.105)
reports “… crew with more than four nationalities, since there are no majorities and minorities and nobody to claim ownership of
the shipboard culture”. Joishi (2005, p.5)
writes “… that Teekay’s officer compliment
includes seafarers from 10 nationalities …
such a success story is relatively rare …
where mixing even two nationalities is a step
taken ‘with much caution’ …”.
As an example, Knudsen states that Danes,
in general, do not believe they can learn from
foreigners, although, younger Danes better
realise that they can learn from non-nationals. Perhaps, the younger generation will
reduce today’s worries? My study summarises that if there are three or more nationalities, they group like birds of a feather
Recent Maritime Studies
on the Human Factor
BIMCO BULLETIN · VOLUME 100 · NO. 4 · 2005 31
that flock together. Groupings are not
good for mutual understanding. It also shows
a lack of curiosity and a fear of the unknown.
Knudsen also advocates that the industry will
have less friction on board if officers’ cooperative competence is strengthened and
everybody learns teamwork skills. If this
were done, an overall benefit of cultural
mixes would be achieved. People dining together contribute to cultural understanding.
Equally important is chatting. Apparently,
small interactive activities can create a great
impact on co-operation.
Mixed cultural living is possible ashore
where there are a lot of people with whom
to socialise. This is not the situation on board
with say fifteen crew members and where
the majority are on watch or dissertation writing sleeping. Owners are crewing in accordance with safety
regulations but the group is simply too small
on board. Thirty years ago, a crew numbered
35-40 persons and the chances were a lot
greater that you could find somebody to talk
to and be friends with.
On board, we can attend only one movie and
normally be served one type of food. This
can be frustrating. To be on board, for say
half a year, and not have anyone to talk to
more than to say “good morning” and “thank
you” etc. leads to alienation and s/he becomes a risk factor. If on top of this, you are
not allowed to go ashore (an ISPS Code consequence) and the ship’s turnaround time in
port is only a few hours (too short for a shore
visit), you could draw parallels to an obedient citizen being put under house arrest.
Again, these circumstances could turn into
a risk. Seafarers must realise that a ship is a
very broad community of friends. If the industry does not pay attention to these human factor aspects perhaps we will again see
owners “shanghaiing” their crew; though,
normally, nobody would want to sacrifice
himself for an owner under such conditions.
With a marginal sized crew it also becomes
difficult to be a deviator which is contrary to
ashore, where a deviator is assimilated in the
crowd. Seafarers often have problems handling conflicts. From my study, it can be
noted that in a conflict, people (WMU students) prefer to withdraw than to argue. Silence, particularly in an important issue, is
dangerous. To debate is usually better than
to shrug one’s shoulders.
In the future, if the social environment on
board is poor, with no rules without exemptions, then with this condition, only the dregs
and people with no formal education will
muster. This, of course, would be insane and
not defensible on a high-tech ship. Owners
need to look after their manning preferences
and stop being historic or nostalgic in crew
selection. Owners need to assure crew members’ continuous learning, introduce better
monitoring of the crew and their competencies and increase crew motivation.
Communication is our most important human tool for understanding, co-operation and
action. Sadly, it is also the tool that can make
us the most confused and frustrated. To communicate is to interpret a message for its
One of a manager’s prime activities is to
mitigate communication so that people can
speak freely to each other. If the crew/staff
is multi-cultural it creates a great deal of
complexity if you admit that a crew is a
value-added factor for output and profit.
Lack of information contributes to crew fear,
uncertainty and the spread of rumours. It
must, therefore, be the officer’s or department head’s duty to communicate what is
happening on board or in the office. If this is
not done well, there will be discrimination.
With this follows that crew members from
other nationalities than the flag must, in clear
terms, be given information on their rights
and duties. If this is done properly, one can
expect co-operation and devotion.
Partly, the ISM Code focuses on safety-communication, which is sometimes the target
for surveyors and customer’s vetting inspectors. The limited, required language knowledge is not enough to give an individual a
social life on board; hence s/he becomes alienated and thus becomes a safety risk; no
matter how short the length of time spent on
board. In debates on ship safety, the limited
language knowledge of a crew is normally
not considered.
One benefit of working with people from
other cultures is that you have the opportunity to learn about their cultures and languages. The NUMAST journal Telegraph
(2005) reported on a cadet who learned Hindi
through his crewmates; he then became less
lonely. In the long run, we cannot allow
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32 BIMCO BULLETIN · VOLUME 100 · NO. 4 · 2005
such experiments with an already limited number of people on board. Loneliness
is a safety risk, particularly when the individual cannot handle it. How do you know
that you can handle it? A “crazy test” for all
crew would be wise!
A cross-cultural faux pas (very culture-specific violation/s) happens when we fail to
recognize another person’s culture. People
from other cultures have goals, customs,
thought-patterns and values that may be different from our own. Interpersonal work with
unknown (host) nationals may become bitter because of misreading verbal and nonverbal communication signals. This is not
because of personality (Harris, 2004).
Symbols manifest most communication.
Such symbols differ in meaning dependent
on time, culture/person and place. Interaction between humans is characterized by a
continuous update of the meaning of symbols. If we accept stereotyping it will become
a barrier to finding the authentic meaning of
spoken sentences (as far as possible and to
the best of our ability).
When we communicate we project our own
image (needs, expectations, ideals, perceptions etc.); mainly through appearance, tone
of voice and the selection of words. All too
often, the messages sent are not the same
as the message received and strangely, humans are often content with a brief understanding of a communication. This explains
why a natural language is not used when
commanding. In addition and because of
lack of training and poor communicationdiscipline a prodedural (short and concise)
language is used, though not always with
success (The Estonia and Sleipner accidents
are two examples).
For many of us culture-communication becomes a challenge because there are many
unknown variables. In some cultures people
straightforwardly wish to spell out what they
mean; others do just the opposite. If
practicing the latter, there are fewer possibilities to interpret the message, look for
meaning, understand pauses, seek relationships and look for empathy.
It is puzzling that the communication competency least taught in schools is listening
(at least in the Western world). Worldwide,
very few people know how to listen actively.
Too often it happens that a WMU student
cannot complete a sentence (no rule without
exemption) during group-work assignments
etc. The reason is that often group members
become too exaggerated or a speaker’s English is too long-winded (uncertain of getting
a message across) or simply that his or her
English becomes too weak in certain contexts.
To clarify talk, paraphrasing is recommended. This is an active listening habit that
is essential when the crew’s English is weak.
By repeating the other person’s talk in your
own words (to make isomorphic attributions)
it becomes easier to understand meaning and
it also is an assurance of understanding. In
multi-cultural communication, one should
also be particularly careful to avoid uncommon or esoteric words; do not say e.g. efficacious but effective.
Stereotypes are attitudes that we attribute to
a person’s characteristics based on the group
to which that individual belongs. In stereotyping we attempt to make it easier to predict another person’s character and possible
behaviour so as to reduce our own uncertainty. If our prediction of behaviour is wrong
there might be a conflict in understanding. An
ability to predict behaviour is not something
we are born with, but we often need
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BIMCO BULLETIN · VOLUME 100 · NO. 4 · 2005 33
to use typifications for social problems.
Aristotle’s way of thinking is widely
adopted in the West and it is certainly a different way of thinking to Confucius, a representative for Asians. Such differences reflect disparity in cultures.
New competencies are required in order to
make cultural differences a resource and to
facilitate interactions with those who do not
share the same values. Communication
across cultural boundaries is difficult; the
danger is that a reticent and non-communicative crewmember is an inherent safety risk.
The reason is understandable because of
weak English or large power distance.
According to Mortimer (2005), there is an
increased demand for senior officers from
former Soviet Union countries (FSU). A good
reason for a demand is their high level of skill,
which is well comparable to Indian officers.
One evident reason is financial: EU short sea
operators have less crew home transport costs.
Another reason for moving recruitment from
Asia to Eastern Europe could be that the cultural differences are less striking. A fourth
reason (not verified) could be the pronunciation of English of crew members from FSU
countries is reasonably good and they offer
acceptable communication skills; besides, low
crew-cost is no longer a major driving argument to reduce operational costs.
More important is mustering a crew with
good knowledge and skills. Officers serving
on modern ships command very expensive
units, hence owners dare not risk ships being detained by port state control officers
(PSC) because officers and ratings are not
up to standard on communication and cultural awareness aspects.
A genuine, classic owner, with a fairly small
number of ships, might have a more personal
link to the crew than a mega owner, who
might not be known by individual crew
members. The link between crew and owner
must be more personal. This is a significant
piece of STCW and ISM concerning the
owner’s commitment to seafarers, not only
the opposite.
A good code of conduct ensures that the officers are on board for the same duration of
time as the ratings. This is sometimes not
practised because air tickets are more expensive for EU owners getting crew from Asia
compared to Eastern Europe i.e. crew stay
on board for a longer time than officers that
are recruited from Europe. It is also bad practise to allow an officer to dine with his national rating colleagues. Officers should dine
with other officers, independent of their nationality. When sailing with officers from the
ship’s flag-state and ratings from other nations/cultures/religions, it is strongly recommended that the ship’s Boatswain be of the
same nationality as the ratings; the work
morale will then be healthier.
People who become members of a ship’s
crew do not necessarily love the sea. They
muster for the sake of making a living. Therefore, but not always, we find that the very
best suited people are not going to sea. A
ship is an expensive enterprise that deserves
good calibre people and very good officers
and this is “required” in the ISM Code. A
person with e.g. a criminal past should not
consider a career at sea. How can owners be
assured that crew is assenting? Presumably,
if the seafarer has the same nationality as
the owner it becomes easier.
Normally, a person with different views and
ideas is an asset. Different thinking comes
with varied cultures and religions. New
ideas should be welcomed in a competitive
environment. It is better to have different
ideas than no ideas at all. Therefore, people from other cultures (thinking differently) and women (who usually also think
in another way) should be more than welcome in the industry.
Furthermore, the predicted world officer
shortage will make it necessary to muster
different nationalities; an unrestricted international crew would reduce manning limitations. Barber International has an opinion
on this (Hand, 2005). Owners can get the
best crew from an extensive selection. A further option might be to waive the requirement, which many countries have, of having captains of the same nationality as the
ships flag.
According to Malone (2000, p.104) optimised manning is “… the minimum number
of personnel consistent with human performance, workload, and safety requirements, and
affordability, risk, and reliability constraints”. Ship manning reductions increase
the risk of human error. Therefore, the minimum manning level on board ships with a
mixed crew should be higher in number than
with a homogeneous crew. Owners should
be proactive and increase their manning-levels. This will also increase the chances for a
crewmember to find somebody alike to talk
to, reducing alienation and hence the possibility that the individual will be a safety risk.
Gonzalez (2000) found that the factor most
important in improving relations on board
in the Spanish merchant marine is the officers’ commanding abilities. Beside officers’ management skills, I would like to add
communication abilities. Gonzales’ second
finding was the character of other crew
members. It looks as if character has a linkage to ethnicity.
The Filipino National Maritime Polytechnic
(Devanadera, 2003) did a study to determine
the problems and issues encountered by

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34 BIMCO BULLETIN · VOLUME 100 · NO. 4 · 2005
Filipino seafarers in a crew of different
nationalities. It found that 70% of Filipino
crew members were less than 40 years of
age and only 5% completed high school.
66% of the respondents (1,140 persons) did
not encounter any problem working with
other nationalities. However 31% (a high figure) said otherwise and they mainly referred
to problems with superiors.
Communication and languages were the most
commonly encountered problem; a poor command of English. “Raising of voices or shouting when giving orders were (sic.) negatively
received by Filipino seafarers …” (ibid, p.4).
This result aligns well with the Spanish research above. Problems related to attitude
were: arrogance, superiority complex, racial
prejudice and ethnocentricity.
The report also finds that Filipinos complained that they were made uneasy by excessive drinking by colleagues. Filipinos
were also distracted by their colleagues’
body odour and this affected interaction. In
summary, the report found that problems are
mostly culture-related. It is recommended
that prior to their deployment, crew be given
a course to familiarize them with cultures
they are assigned to work with to avoid stereotypical behaviour that may create racial bias
and misunderstanding. The study recommends a Code of Conduct for Mix Nationality Crew (ibid, p.6).
If you are a good leader I am a good follower (Knudsen, 2004) holds good for any
type of mixture of people; but how many of
us are born leaders? Not many, but we can
normally learn to be. Part of this learning is
cultural awareness. IMO has very little of
this in its model courses. A summary of the
hours dedicated to cultural awareness in the
IMO model courses adds up to an average
of about 1.7 hrs. (Horck, 2003).
If a crew has the skill and knowledge with
reference to PS controls and flag state (FS)
inspections, this is normally satisfactory to
Maritime Administrations (MA). PSC officers randomly decide what to look at, besides
checking certificates; seaworthiness is not
determined and a protocol of eventual deficiencies is issued. FS inspectors follow checklists – a certificate is issued, including eventual other issues, if the ship complies with
requirements. If ever checked, these two assessments only assure that the crew has a command of the English language needed for ships
safety i.e. technical words and commands.
The ISM audits require compliance to a system; hence crew communication capability
should be extended to more than the bare
safety of the ship and its crew. The MA controlled verifications that control language are
not enough, bearing in mind that communication in a crisis situation, an action of the
unknown, is very unpredictable. All on board
should be competent in the ship’s working
language, not only to manage work and
safety issues, but also to be able to socialise.
If not, the crewmember will be alienated and
this may indirectly create a safety risk. Surveyors and inspectors should be alert to specific conditions that can be symbolic of
larger problems. Perhaps, the definition of
safe manning should be supplemented with
cultural awareness and wider communication skills. Incidentally, it is worrying that
most MAs in the world, in fact all except
three, delegate the ISM audit to a Class society.
Many tanker owners hesitate to sail with
mixed crews because the oil majors, with
their vetting procedures, are not in favour.
This is a subjective view, which I do not have
full support for.
The Oil Companies International Maritime
Forum’s (OCIMF) (2004) Tanker Management and Self-Assessment, a best-practice
guide for ship operators (TMSA) is strictly
used by most oil-majors. TMSA has twelve
elements for the owners to follow; two
(three) of them are directed at our issue:
language skill, personal interaction and cultural awareness.
Element 2, Recruitment and management of
shore-based personnel, stage 1: The company has a written plan … Induction (of new
recruits) covers all policies including safety,
health, environment, quality, business ethics and cultural awareness (OCIMF, 2004,
p.10, my parenthesis and underlining).
Element 2, Recruitment and management of
shore-based personnel, stage 4: The company promotes appropriate interpersonal
skills training. (ibid, my underlining).
Element 3, Recruitment and management of
ship’s personnel, stage 2: Procedures cover
a range of factors including previous experience, age limits, ability to communicate in
a common language and … (ibid, p.12, my
These elements are not only a guide for
tanker operators but could well be used for
any ship operation. However, emphasising
the above elements, also indicates that the
reason for this paper is something owners
should pay special attention to; it may be
crucial in minimising accidents.
Bridge Team Resource Management can be
a problem if the members do not harmonise
and communicate effectively with each
other; therefore, this has become an additional “challenge of ensuring crew social and
cultural compatibility …” (Amanhyia, 2005,
p.3), for the owners.
Management styles
One can perhaps formulate two different
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BIMCO BULLETIN · VOLUME 100 · NO. 4 · 2005 35
reasons why mixed crewing has become
a challenge:
1) One reason might be that old-fashioned
management styles still are practiced.
Younger generations worldwide perhaps are
not ready to accept this. We have a clash.
2) When flat management is practiced, as
in many industries ashore, we try to practice/implement teamwork on board. Teamwork, perhaps not always applied in a correct way because it certainly does not mean
that the captain is thinking loud. Teamwork
is by necessity limited by the responsibilities of the ship’s captain. It may also be that
some crew members prefer to receive clear
and direct orders.
I am inclined to agree with the opinion that
we have gone too far in practicing flat management on board. The majority of international crews are not ready to accept this, especially when those who are going to cooperate do not know each other and, in addition, have cultural differences.
Ship operation is not really suited to too many
discussions. Crews live under emergency-like
conditions, on 24 hours stand-by. In an emergency one has to have a strong leader. So why
not learn to live with it from the very beginning – no confusion, no guessing!
Currently, the issue of culturalism is at the
top of the political agenda. However, what
is evaluated as troublesome at one time and
in one place might not be evaluated as troublesome in another time and place. Perhaps,
if we wait a decade or two these problems
will solve themselves.
Johansson (2004) has published an interesting book The Medici Effect which has
become a bestseller in the United States.
He shows how industries ashore that have
purposely employed foreigners have succeeded brilliantly, realizing the benefits
from diversity. Why not in shipping?
Shipping cannot wait two decades. Perhaps
the industry is too conservative, and not yet
mature enough to take advantage of this
mix. Scandinavia never had strong colonies
compared to some other European countries. Many Scandinavians have never realized what benefits there could be. Perhaps,
this is why today some owners dare not confront the unknown.
What are the benefits today? To be realistic,
is it possible to identify a substantial factor
in favour of mixed crews? The answer is yes,
but not with the management practices in use
today and not with the poor knowledge of
cultural awareness that many managers have.
Below are seven (obvious) statements of the
possible advantages of a multi-cultural crew:
1) Crew members from different cultures
may tend to use different intellectual processes and patterns, providing a diverse range
of responses and input.
2) Customers may benefit from being able
to choose to deal with a crewmember who is
culturally or linguistically from the same
background. This may make business easier
or faster.
3) By ensuring a broad mixture of nationalities, the captain’s authority is unlikely to
be challenged by strong national groupings.
4) The larger the pool of possible crew
members, the more likely it is that excellent
staff can be recruited. By applying artificial
limitations, shipowners are reducing their
chances of recruiting the people they need.
5) By working in a multicultural crew, each
member’s knowledge of the world will be
improved. This may be of advantage to the
company later, if a seafarer transfers to a
shore-based job where such knowledge can
translate directly into a business advantage.
6) In themselves, cultural differences can
be business advantages; for example, the
lower alcohol consumption of many Asian
seafarers is likely to improve safety. Such differences may also impact on other members
of the crew: an individual from a hard-drinking culture may be influenced to moderate his
behaviour to more appropriate levels.
7) Recruiting seafarers from developing
countries often provides support to those
countries from remittances sent home to
families. The impact on the economy provides a spur to improve maritime training in
those countries, which in turn again improves
the pool of candidates from which shipowners may recruit.
The benefits of cultural differences depend
on respect being shown. People should be
happy to pass on their knowledge to others,
especially safety; generally nobody should
be afraid of administering a rebuke. Danish
owners appear to handle crew mixtures well.
The reason could be that gentle but responsible management is carried out by way of a
Danish smile – det Danske smil.
Regrettably, today there are not many encouraging arguments for mixed crewing.
Not until we start to realise that we 1) can
learn about other cultures, 2) must adopt a
stronger leadership, 3) must understand
what really is behind the concept of teamwork and 4) make additional efforts to communicate clearly, without using language as
a tool for domination.
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36 BIMCO BULLETIN · VOLUME 100 · NO. 4 · 2005
Orders must be repeated and nothing
taken for granted. A clear corporate culture
has to be introduced.
If we follow the ISM Code and pay attention to the routines and procedures against
all identified risks then possibly some advantages can be found in a mixed crew. As
A.P. Møller puts it: “rettidig omhu” – with
constant care. This should indeed be applied
to people, the best investment target for success and progress. Send the crews to Bridge
Resource Management Courses, respect
knowledge, learn from the Herald of Free
Enterprise and look at the ship and its environment in a broad perspective. Work as a
team, but first learn what teamwork is.
If the study of multi-cultural issues is introduced into the curriculum in national maritime education, perhaps fewer accidents/incidents will occur on board. Owners and others in the shipping industry will certainly find
advantages from the differences.
Maritime education and training institutions
should also consider the communicative
competence of those training to become officers. A further analysis of competence
should include the skills of being able to
adapt to different social situations.
People solve problems more in teams today
and that is why it is important to employ staff
with a good social competence; perhaps it is
more important than employing people with
high intelligence (IQ).
Lloyds’ List (2005, p.7) writes “there has
been insufficient research done on the attitudes of modern mariners and the effects of
everything from multicultural crew to … in
modern ships”. And Grey (2005, p.6) adds:
“It is important that the industry is at last
putting a growing amount of resources into
the human element”. Let us not wait until
misunderstandings and intolerance have a
dire effect on safety at sea.
Dear reader, if you can add to my list of the
positive aspects of mixed crewing, I would
be delighted to hear from you. O
Amanhyia, W. (2005, March). Shipboard
team building. Seaways, pp. 3-4.
Devanadera, N.P. & Espiritu M.N.C. (2003).
The Experiences of Filipino seafarers in a
mix nationality crew. Philippine Journal on
Maritime Education and Training, 1(2), pp.
Frank, J. (2005, May 12). Last-in, first-out
as JO Tankers ditches European officers.
Lloyds List, p. 16.
Gonzalez, E.A.G. (2000). The human relations in Spanish ships environment. Paper
presented at the 2nd International Congress
on Maritime Technological Innovations and
Research, Cadiz, 8-11 November 2000.
Grey, M. (2004, November 1). Leadership
and management issues provide no soft option. Lloyds List, p. 6.
Hand, M. (2005, February 24). Crewing:
Officer shortage could get worse warns Barber. Lloyds List, 1.
Harris, P.R., Moran, R.T. & Moran, S.V.
(2004). Managing cultural differences: Global leadership strategies for the twenty-first
century (6th ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier
Hooper, D. (2004a, May 20). Coughing up
for quality. Fairplay, 351(6277), pp. 36-37.
Hooper, D. (2004b, May 20). The human
factor. Fairplay, 351(6277), p. 38.
Horck, J. (2003). International maritime legislation and model courses. IAMU Journal,
2(1), pp. 33-39.
Horck, J. (2004a). [Review of the book Isolde
av Singapore by P. du Rietz & M. Ljunggren,
Stockholm: Maritime Museum, 2001]. Maritime Policy & Management, 31(2), p. 173.
Horck, J. (2004b). An analysis of decisionmaking processes in multicultural maritime
scenarios. Maritime Policy & Management,
31(1), pp. 15-29.
Johansson, F. (2004). The Medici Effect,
breakthrough insights at the intersection of
ideas, concepts, and cultures. Boston:
Harvard business school press.
Joishi, R. (2005, March 24). End “rogue
crew” image says head of Teekay. Lloyds
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Editor’s Note: Captain Jan Horck has a Master Mariner’s examination from the Malmö Maritime Academy (1970), He also has an “Extra Master”
(Navigations-lärar examen) from the University of
Stockholm (1979). Capt. Horck has obtained academic credits in mathematics, astronomy and pedagogy from the University of Lund and the University
of Malmö and in 2004, he earned his Master of Education degree at Malmö University.
Between 1965 and 1982 Capt. Horck served on board
ships of the Broström Shipping Company in different
capacities. In 1980 he enrolled at the Maritime Academy in Malmö (University of Lund) as Associate Professor. In 1982 he took part in the pre-planning of the
World Maritime University (WMU), and has been engaged by the WMU since 1983. At present, he is a
Lecturer at the university.
His international experience includes conducting and
lecturing at IMO/SIDA international courses on survey MARPOL Annex II and I and presenting papers
at inter alia BIMCO, IAMU and IMLA seminars. He
is also a visiting lecturer at IMO’s International
Maritime Academy (IMO/IMA) in Trieste, Italy and
the TUW Academy Middle East in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Besides lecturing at WMU, Capt. Horck has been engaged in research projects such as the EU project on
Harmonization of European MET systems (METHAR), an EU Study Project on the Maritime Education and Training Systems of China, India, Indonesia
and the Philippines (CIIPMET), Maritime Training
in Malaysia (ALAM) and in the EU project on Information exchange and impact assessment for enhanced
environmental-conscious operations in European
ports and terminals (ECOPORTS).
Licentiate Dissertations in Education
Editor: Lena Holmberg (dissertation 1 and 2)
Editor: Feiwel Kupferberg (dissertation 3)
Licentiate Dissertations in the Theory and Practice of Teaching and Learning Swedish
Editor: Bengt Linnér
1. Öhman-Gullberg, Lisa: Movere. Att sätta kunskap i rörelse. 2006.
2. Lutz, Kristian: Konstruktionen av det avvikande förskolebarnet. 2006.
3. Horck, Jan: A mixed crew complement. 2006.

A maritime safety challenge and its impact on maritime
education and training
Is it justifi able from a maritime safety perspective for ships to sail
with a minimum crew of different cultures? Is it possible to educate a
student body hailing from different cultures assembled in a multicultural environment at an international institution and pursuing
maritime education and training? These are important and challenging questions in the modern shipping community of today operating
within a globalized world.
This book attempts to provide a heightened awareness of the challenges that can lead to costly consequences for individuals, shipowners,
teachers and other stakeholders within the shipping sphere unless courses are taken in cultural awareness and spoken English is improved.
The industry, in general, appears to be incapable of coping with
diversity or is hesitant to balance eventual advantages against eventual
risks. The likely reason is that past research initiatives may have left the
industry in a state of confusion, instead of affording useful guidance.
The question that provokes thought is – what research method is most
suitable for the conduct of studies on people involved in shipping?
In this book, the author, using World Maritime University students
as the prime research object, discusses conditions on how teaching
and living in a multicultural society is no hindrance to good academic
performance. In the context of casualty investigations, where the
human factor has directly or indirectly contributed to an accident,
it has been suggested that better communication is needed on board
ships and between ship and shore.
The author concludes that fatigue and ergonomic constraints are
not the only causes of accidents; lack of cultural awareness and lack of
communication are important ancillary reasons.
isbn/issn 978-91-976140-4-7/1653-6037