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CROSS CULTURAL MANAGEMENT TRAINING AT MARITIME UNIVERSITY




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It is estimated that approximately 85% – 95% of the world’s seafarers are working on mixed nationality vessels. After graduation from the Maritime University the most part of ex-cadets start working at the International Companies. They have to be properly prepared for hard conditions of seamen’s life. It doesn’t mean only their deep knowledge of instructions and rules, their readiness to keep watch and carefully perform all articles of their contracts in time.  It also means the theoretical knowledge and practical attainments to work in a mixed crew within international business being under the pressure of different deprivations.

In these circumstances English is the only working language for them.  That is why any cadet is interested in deep knowledge of professional field and English is always in the center of his/her learning activity. It is logically that some subjects in the University are taught in English. All lectures and practical training of such courses are brought in English. One of them is the course of Psychological foundations of ship’s crew management.

At the department of foreign languages an integrative contextual approach is used to programming marine specialist training to professional activity. The mentioned course is based on modular system in foreign-language communication where computer technologies are a simulator of professional activity. Competence-based and Integrative contextual approaches are proved to be taken into account on any step of the course programming. They are subjects to the obvious educational purposes and help to solve not only the problems of socialization but those, related to marine specialists training to professional activity [5, p. 47 – 52]. Intermediate and final knowledge control has been reviewed too.  Competence development monitoring is realized at lessons and examinations [6, p. 212 – 216].

Ship’s officers are to be ready not only to work using sophisticated vessel’s equipment but to manage people and be professionally self-organized. That is why Psychology and Management are two of central disciplines of their education which are specially focused on professional self-organization. The pedagogical potentialities of self-organization in formation of foreign language competence at students of higher education institution were determined [7, p. 104-107]. The professional self-organization, being an indicator of a personal maturity, is closely accompanied by any other self-processes (self-control, self-education, self-esteem etc.) and autocompetence [4, p. 23-31]. Their interrelation and increasing topicality are intensely displayed during the students’ practice-focused foreign language training like mentioned course of Psychological foundations of ship’s crew management. A number of different questions are included into its program, like Fatigue, Stress and Conflict Management, Leadership and Teamworking etc.

According to statistics, seamen working in mixed crews point poor cultural awareness training in the maritime sector. One of the main reasons is that this subject is often viewed as irrelevant, abstract, political and taboo. In the current climate, people are terrified of being accused of being politically incorrect, or even worse, racist. That is why cross cultural management and its analytical methods are under maximum attention and interests of mentioned course participants at the University.

Cultural differences can affect the efficiency of the crew and even the safety of the vessel. Misunderstanding leads to accidents at work, which in some cases prove to be fatal. Qualities that make an officer successful in one culture may be the certain reason for failure when leading across cultures. [2] To develop the capacity, trust, increase collaboration, cohesion and effectiveness, navigate the complexities of mixed ship’s crew it’s necessary to develop management knowledge and skills. But the first task is to be properly informed.

The skills of a good manager are to be based on developed analytical methods. The problem is that cross-cultural analysis could be a very perplexing field to understand. They are made from many different viewpoints, aims and concepts and the most of them are not adapted to navigational practice.

Searching analytical methods of cross-cultural management we compared some of them and made the conclusions on their usefulness from navigational point of view. To increase ship’s management effectiveness and promote analytical methods of cross-cultural management to the navigational practice, we prepared some conclusions and recommendations.

Cross-cultural management focuses on cultural encounters, which aims to discover tools to handle cultural differences seen as sources of conflict or miscommunication. There are many models of cross-cultural analysis currently valid. Most of them are based on analyzes of business field.  Edward T. Hall, Geert Hofstede, Fons Trompenaars, Shalom Schwartz and Clifford Geertz are some of the major contributors in this part of management.

The comparative analyze helped us to choose two most practically oriented methods of cross-cultural analyses. We assumed that analytical methods of cross-cultural management can be effectively used in mixed crew management. They are Geert Hofstede’s cross-cultural dimensions   and Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner analysis. Both of them look at how people from different cultural backgrounds try to communicate. They also produce some guidelines.

At the theoretical part of the course both analytical methods are described. Hofstede sees culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.” [1] Six dimensions Hofstede uses to distinguish between national cultures are: Power distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long-Term Orientation, Indulgence [8].

Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner consider culture to be made up of basic assumptions at the core level. These ‘basic assumptions’ are somewhat similar to ‘values’ in the Hofstede model. Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner use seven dimensions for their model of culture: Universalism vs Particularism, Individualism vs Communitarianism, Neutral vs Emotional, Specific vs Diffuse, Achievement vs Ascription, Attitude to Time (Sequential time vs Synchronic time), Internal vs External Orientation. “When we are living and working in another culture, we are usually very aware of obvious differences in dress, food, and basic behaviors. Much more important for effective integration are differences at a deeper, implicit level, which we are less likely to be aware of.” [9]


At the practical part of our course we consider some onboard observations. Practical analyses of the events and incidents are based on the mentioned methods. For instance, in accordance with the witness of squat incidence [3, p. 26-29], characters of two different nationalities took active part in that event. There were Sweden and Russian. Cultures are considered rather opposite to each other (fig.1, tab.1).

Fig. 1. Analyses based on Hofstede’s dimensions

Table 1. Analyses based on Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner’s dimensions

Russia

Sweden
Particularism Universalism
Communitarianism Individualism
Diffuse Specific
Emotional Neutral
Ascription Achievement
Synchronous Time Sequential Time
Outer Direction Internal Direction

 

Comparison helps to gain an opened opportunity to explain not only behavior of the characters but its background. It helps to choose some tips which are useful not only for solving problems after the incident but as preventive measures if they are in the point of view of the officers in advance.

Finally, our experience revealed the high importance of all these dimensions as being advantageous instruments in analyzing cross-cultural communication problems and various situations, where two or more cultures are involved. For each of these dimensions a number of useful strategies are given. This model can best be used to understand people from different cultural backgrounds better, so that one can work with them more effectively, and prevent misunderstandings.

However there are a number of disadvantages in the considered methods. The most important is that the cultural dimensions don’t take into account differences between sub-cultures within the country or between the countries of the same origin (i.e. Ukraine and Russia). It is highly important to be sensible in applying this model, treat people as individuals, taking into account their experience within the mixed crew and avoid ethno-cultural stereotyping.

Obviously these results are instrumental for not only better understanding the situation, but for finding the most effective tools increasing human adaptation and improving onboard communication. They can be used as preventive measures from cultural misunderstanding. For the proper adaptation of analytical methods of cross-cultural management to navigational practice some tips have been prepared. So as it is practically proved, these methods don’t contradict but complement each other and their value can be even increased if they are used in a complex.

 

References

  1. Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede and Michael Minkov: Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. Revised and expanded 3rd Edition. 550 pages. New York: McGraw-Hill USA, 2010.
  2. Jan Horck A maritime safety challenge and its impact on maritime education and training.// Holmbergs, Malmö, 2006.
  3. Joakim Mansson’s (2009) Degree Thesis on Communication Problems in Mixed Crews. [www]. 2016-08-18. http://www.ha.ax/erik/Kultur/IKK/Materials/Master/ICC%20at%20work/CommProblemsinMixedCrews.
  4. Kochkarova Z.K., Baychorova A.A., Taushunaeva F.M., Filonenko V.A. Pedagogical potentialities of self-organization in formation of foreign language competence at students of higher education institution // Bulletin of the Adyghe State University. Se. 3, Pedagogy and Psychology. 2016. №1 (173).
  5. Kuznetsova Y. S., Tenishcheva V.F., Tsyganko E.N. Integrative contextual module of professional copetence development. // Bulletin of the Adyghe State University. Se. 3, Pedagogy and Psychology. 2014. № 3 (143). P. 47-52.
  6. Peresypkin A.P., Genkin Yu. Yu., Filonenko V.A. Competence building monitoring technology design of the future professionals while implementing various foreign language training educational programs // scientific news of Belgorod State University. Ser. Humanitarian sciences. 2014. Vol. 23, No. 20 (191) P. 212–216.
  7. Petkov V.A., Filonenko V.A. Self-organization as a condition of competitive specialist’s professional development // Bulletin of Armavir Institute of Social Education (a branch) of RSSU. 2014.
  8. The Web’s leading resource for International Business Etiquette, Manners and Culture. // [www]. 2016-08-10. http:// cyborlink.com/default.htm
  9. Trompenaars, F., Hampden-Turner, C. Riding the Waves of Culture. London – 1997.
    CROSS CULTURAL MANAGEMENT TRAINING AT MARITIME UNIVERSITY
    The course of Psychological Foundations of Ship’s Crew Management is an essential part of professional training at the Maritime University. Cross cultural management takes an important part of the course. Different analytical methods of cross-cultural management are compared and the conclusions on their usefulness from navigational point of view are made.
    Written by: Filonenko Victoria Alexandrovna
    Published by: Басаранович Екатерина
    Date Published: 12/10/2016
    Edition: euroasia-science.ru_#29_25.08.2016
    Available in: Ebook