Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the lessons of globalization from the standpoint of Norwegian seafarers' career experiences. An isolated and multicultural shipboard social milieu provides a unique context for examining the challenges and impacts associated with globalized work. Design/methodology/approach – Descriptions of the historical contexts of globalization, Norwegian shipping and seafaring are followed by the use of on‐line qualitative methodology to access globally dispersed and mobile informants. Findings – By studying the historical development of globalization and analyzing seafarers' accounts, the “material realities” of global impacts may be better understood. Research limitations/implications – The shipboard context provides scholars and practitioners with an opportunity to learn lessons about the economic/social/historical values of certain occupations. Globalization has rendered multicultural workforces both at sea and on land. Seafarers have knowledge claims about managing and working technologically advanced and diverse work environments. “Male‐only” seafarer respondents limit understanding about the availability of Norwegian women seafarers to meet the recruitment and retention challenges faced by the shipping industry. Practical implications – The IMO has stressed that the human element, seafarer response and cooperation, is critical to the effectiveness of global maritime security initiatives. Norwegian seafarers believe that policy‐makers tend to make decisions that reflect misguided assumptions and age‐old myths about sailors and shipboard organizational life. The paper raises awareness about the “business of seafaring”; which Tony Lane, UK seafarer turned sociologist, once argued is quite different from the “business of shipping”. Originality/value – Exploration in a maritime context provides information of original value unavailable from other types of organizations.
Journal of Management History – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 13, 2010
Keywords: Norway; Marine transport; Employees; Globalization; Social anthropology; Industrial sociology