Labour retention in a global industry
: ships' deck officers

  • Colin Stevenson

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research consists of an investigation into the issues of need and stress in the setting of a multi-national workforce and the retention of workers within this workforce. The world maritime industry is selected as the research field because of the common industrial technological and commercial factors that are truly international and experienced globally. Clear Aims and Objectives are formulated to enable the researcher to carry out a structured investigation of the relevant issues. The main focus of the research is upon Needs Satisfaction and Stress Management as a means of retaining personnel within the sea-going section of the industry. In order to determine the external factors that impact upon workers in the ship, an examination into the industrial setting of the maritime industry is carried out. Under the headings of Shipboard Life and Structure, Historical Background and the The Human Factor, a description of life at sea and its development is put into historical context. A detailed literature review is carried out in the areas of Occupational Choice, Human Needs, Group Conflict Resolution and Stress Management and a number of Hypotheses postulated relating to the satisfaction of Needs. It is necessary to narrow the research field from the existing huge numbers of sea-going personnel and focus on a particular group of seafarers. This isolates the possibility of bias i any responses relative to a respondent's particular speciality when gathering information. The chose group is serving Deck Officers. An extensive questionnaire was constructed and sent to the 6,000 members of the Nautical Institute and to selected colleges and shipping companies involved in the training of sea-going personnel. This consisted of general questions relative to the individual and to specific questions joining and in relation to their influence upon remaining at sea. The response of some 1,200 Deck Officers were analysed in relation to their age and nationality. The analysis concentrated upon the relative importance of factors for needs satisfaction, stress alleviation and to inter-personal and cultural conflict within the ship. An important finding from the analysis extends theoretical knowledge relating to Needs by identifying a sub-division of higher needs. In conceptual terms, the results of this research, by investigating a sector of an industrial workforce, indicates how higher Human Needs may transcend national boundaries and may differ with age throughout the individual's career. The findings confirm instinctive judgement that individuals are different and that some needs are formed and influenced by culture and origin whilst others are fluid and change. These factors are frequently overlooked or ignored when constructing the employment package and the research findings have implications for retention of labour, not only in the research population chosen, but in other global multi-national workforces. In practical terms the conclusions may act as a guide to the influence of specific Needs upon the individual Deck Officer and assist employers in formulating a flexible employment package, dependent upon the nationality and age profile of the individual, as an aid to retention.
Date of Award1999
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Nottingham Trent University

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