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Pires Sant´Anna Maciel, M. & Maciel Pereira, J.A. (2019). Categorization of Organizational Conflicts in Brazilian Maritime Support Vessels. Psychology Research, 2(1), -. Doi: -
Keywords: organizational conflicts, ships, maritime support, categorization. remission.
Palabras claves: conflictos organizacionales, embarcaciones, apoyo marítimo, categorización
Palavras-chave: conflitos organizacionais, embarcações, apoio marítimo, categorização.
Maritime vessels transport societies' goods throughout the world and, even within a more restricted activity, they work in research-related units, in support, operational support and consultancy to the offshore oil industry, more specifically in towing and anchoring work for the activities carried out by the maritime units involved in the drilling, extraction and storage of oil and gas along the maritime coastline. These vessels are referred to as maritime support navigation. They are part of the Shipping Industry and provide many types of logistical support services and special activities, supporting offshore oil exploration and production activity.
Maritime Support Navigation is regulated by the Brazilian State, defined by ABEAM (2018) as "navigation performed to provide logistical support to vessels and installations in national territorial waters and in the Economic Zone, which are involved in mineral and hydrocarbon research and working activities" (p. 3). At the end of April 2018, the maritime support fleet in Brazilian waters amounted to 366 vessels, with about 11,000 maritime workers. 316 of the vessels flew the Brazilian flag and the other 50 flew a foreign flag (ABEAM, 2018). There are several types of maritime support vessels, identified, described and categorized in ABEAM (2018); Mendas, Teixeira, Rocio and D'Oliveira (2017); Campos (2017), Restum (2017) and Sousa e Martins (2014). In Santana (2016), there is a historical record of the evolution of the technological development of boats from ancient times to the present day.
Maritime work can be understood as all work carried out on board vessels, both to perform navigational services and to maintain and operate the vessels (Bulboz, 2016). This complex, high sea environment contains the conditions that lead to the appearance of organizational conflicts, which need to be resolved efficiently for the good progress of individual and team work in accordance with the one established by Pedreira (2017) "avoiding the emergence of loopholes that could result from bad management" (p. 25). It also generally results in a need to deal with thoughts and actions that do not adhere to what Organizations expect from their officials about the work activity and the relationships involved in it (Paniza, Cassandre and Senger, 2018).
This study aims to identify, categorize and propose solutions to existing organizational conflicts on board maritime support vessels. This study's relevance and contributions are given by the fact that there are few reports and studies on the subject in this specific context and few discussions at the regional and national level. As a result, there are few papers available on the characterization of existing organizational conflicts versus working conditions on ships. This study in this organizational context, besides enriching the knowledge in this industry, will broaden the academic discussion on the subject, with the understanding of how and which organizational conflicts occur on board in the current scenario of Brazilian maritime support navigation seeking to demonstrate the specific reality of the work.
For the theoretical reference development, academic texts were researched in the Literature, which has many definitions of Organizational Conflict. Vargas (2017) explains that there are different classifications regarding the forms of conflict. However, he understands that the most currently accepted classification is the one that defines conflict as personal, interpersonal and organizational: "The personal conflicts are those that occur within us when we come into conflicts with ourselves over indecision. Interpersonal conflicts are those between people, when one or more people face situations in different ways. The organizational ones are those that occur within organizations" (p. 42).
For the purposes of this article, which will focus on conflicts occurring within Maritime Support organizations, the definition adopted in this academic work is the one provided by Armadans, Vega and Sacristan (2016) which defines them "as the result and an error in the development, in the management of relations and in their own evolution within the organization's activity, bearing in mind that, as an error, it can be modified and resolved" (p. 17). Thus, as a bias of a relational process, when it is identified to be modified, it generates change and an effective intervention in time, which, from the knowledge of its causes, can help to manage it before it grows.
In this process of understanding organizations' conflicts, it is also important to have an understanding of the organization that leads to an understanding of its behaviors and actions. From this perspective, Armandans, Vega and Sacristán (2016) propose a division of Organizational Conflicts based on their scope of action into three categories, i.e. where they occur: Interpersonal Organizational Conflicts, Intergroup Organizational Conflicts and Intraorganizational Organizational Conflicts. Based on the Literature, Pedreira (2017) emphasizes that the levels of any organizational conflict classification cannot be taken as absolute, since a conflict can have the necessary permeability to reach different organizational levels, that is, people, teams and the whole Organization at the same time, which can be directly or indirectly involved, with different consequences. Pedroso (2017) states that any type of organizational conflict can involve, in general, all parts of the Organization.
The definition of Armadans, Vega and Sacristan (2016) states that Interpersonal Organizational Conflicts occur when they involve only the individuals of the organization. Pedreira (2017) adds that this organizational conflict occurs between individuals when there are antagonistic interests or conflicting goals between two or more individuals, which, in an organizational context, can harm individual, team, or organizational productivity. They are subdivided into the following categories: By Scarce Resources, where human, economic or means and materials resources are scarce to the activity; By Objectives, when there is no common and shared vision, where disagreement occurs regarding final goals and objectives; and finally, By Facts, which is the result of different responses to the same problem, more common among individuals who perform the same activity between departments with shared responsibilities in the same activity.
Armadans, Vega and Sacristan (2016) establish that Intraorganizational Organizational Conflicts are linked to the following situations: Linked to the Organization's Own Objectives, which occur when the people that integrate it have objectives that may not coincide with those of the organization; Linked to the Nature of the Institutions, those that arise according to the type of legal character of the organization; Linked to the Organizational Structure, which occur in positions of connection between departments, with different characteristics, objectives and interests; Linked to Workflows, which are those that arise when the flow, load, incentive or rewards are uncertain; As a result of Excessive Bureaucratization, they are those that arise from an excessive formalization and automation in their functions; As a result of Resource Competition, which are those that arise when resources are insufficient to satisfy all productive and personal needs; Due to Authority, those that occur due to the status in the hierarchical organizational structure; and Due to the Lack of Personal Authority, which are those that occur when there is a lack of leadership and motivation.
To understand how organizational conflicts occur within the working structures of a maritime support vessel, it is necessary to understand how the work itself is divided regarding the execution of tasks, as well as the responsibilities and differentiation of authority that are inherent to the fundamental positions.
The work organization and division in maritime support vessels are established and regulated by the Brazilian State, where it initially distinguishes the functions on board by groups, according to the type of navigation. The organization for a typical Maritime Support vessel is shown in Figure 1. The first group is the Deck Department. This group is in charge of the activities related to navigation and maneuvers on the Deck and is composed by the Captain, Deck Officer, First Nautical Officer, Second Nautical Officer, Boatswain and Seamen. The second group is the Engineering Department. This group is in charge of activities related to the propulsion and operation of equipment and is composed of the Chief Engineer, First Engineer, Second Engineer, Driver and Seamen. The third group is the Steward Department. This group is in charge of cooking, organizing, cleaning and conserving the rooms and is formed by Cooks and steward's assistants. The fourth and last group is the Health Department. This group is in charge of hygiene and health conditions and is formed by Health Assistants and Nurses.
The Captain's position is the main function on board a Marine Support vessel. They are responsible for the vessel, in every possible way, being the posited owner of the vessel, with their legal substitute being the Deck Officer of the vessel. The vessel’s entire crew is subjected to their orders, according to the activities attributed for each maritime worker specified in the NORMAM-13/DPC regulation.
There is a wide range of activities to be carried out in the Engine Department, since they perform maintenance on all of the vessel’s equipment and machinery, implement projects and exercise creativity by improvising often non-existent resources to solve problems (Cunha, 2017b) so that the vessel is able to meet their demands 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is justified by the need for a coherent and effective operation to ensure the Organization’s profitability and solvency (Tomé, 2016).
This dissertation is based on an applied research on a case study of exploratory nature, with a qualitative approach and a theoretical and practical research problem, since we look for a new approach on a case study on the Industry. A document and bibliographical base is used to answer the research question and to achieve the proposed goals. The operational definition of the research variables presented shall be measured by the existence or indication of organizational conflicts on board of Maritime Support vessels, based on the readings of the academic texts selected according to the criterion adopted for the studied Sample. The sample is considered as non-probabilistic, since the sample selection was random and the content analysis is based on the author’s judgment according to coexistence, availability and accessibility of the elements (Pedreira, 2017) to determine the existence or indication of organizational conflicts on board Maritime Support vessels. The existence of these organizational conflicts was sought through a verification tool with academic papers, with a bibliographical contribution guided by digital bibliographical reviewing. The primary source used is the selection of academic papers gathered on July 7, 2018, written in Portuguese and included in the Google Scholar database. These texts bothered to search recent papers that included the expressions “maritime support” - in the last five years - and “organizational conflicts” - in the last two years -. 285 (two-hundred and eighty-five) articles and quotes were found. The criterion was to read the abstract of each publication, discarding the ones without similar analysis units, not linked or directly related with the routine work on Maritime Support vessels. This is the case of Boat Building Processes, Relation of the Industry with Public Powers, Input Cost. Market View, Computer Simulations for Boat Performance and Mooring, Area of Taxation and Legal Department, Tourist Navigation and Payroll Desertion. Quotes and purchase ledgers were also discarded. From this perspective, 47 (forty-seven) eligible articles were selected as the subject of study for the Dissertation. After a comprehensive lecture of the texts, 22 (twenty-two) publications, cited on Bibliography, that will make up the sample for this case study, although they are not explicitly cited throughout the text. The selection method is explained on Figure 2.
The way to measure organizational conflicts on board of Maritime Support in Brazil was developed from the Research Question for immersion in taxonomy, developed by Armadans, Vega and Sacristán (2016), which suggests “sorting Organizational conflicts according to their field” (p.24) in the work environment, with the aim of analyzing Maritime Support vessels. The selection of the procedure of the established analysis operationalization depends on the available variables for evidence collection in its content. Concerning data gathering, after the selection of scientific papers stemming from the research question, they were read to analyze their content facing the topic of organizational conflicts on Maritime Support in order to identify empiric evidence of interest indicating the potential existence of said conflicts on board. This stage works as a crossover between evidence collection and content analysis, aiming to delve into the topic and bring into light what is in the background in the academic work, possibly identifying intrinsic meanings of interest for the research (Tomé, 2016).
This way, within the structure of the chosen model, and in order to corroborate the credibility and reliability of the content analysis process, the next step presented is the demonstration of the delineation process in Figure 3, using the collection carried out as a base. This resulted in a crossover of empiric evidence of the topics ‘Organizational Conflicts’ and ‘Maritime Support’ for identification and subsequent sorting according to Armadans, Vega and Sacristán’s Taxonomy (2016) of on-board conflicts.
Stemming from the content analysis for empiric evidence collection in order to specify the verification facing the Taxonomy of Organizational Conflicts according to their Scope of Action on the academic papers enumerated over the expression ‘Maritime Support’, with the results shown on Table 1.
We should note that the letter ‘x’ means that empiric evidence was found in the corresponding academic paper on organizational conflicts and ‘-’ means that no empiric evidence was found in it.
The descriptive statistics of the summation and the subsequent verification of variable frequency distribution were drawn from the empiric evidence collection in the 22 academic papers enumerated on Table 1 facing the adopted taxonomy. The results obtained were the input for generation, as observed on Table 2 and Figure 4.
Table 1 and Figure 4 present the application of descriptive statistics on the Taxonomy of Organizational Conflicts according to their Scope of Action. This proves that the most present organizational conflicts on board of Maritime Support vessels are the ‘Intraorganizational Conflicts linked to organizational structure’ and ‘Intraorganizational Conflicts linked to the workflow manner’. Besides, the two types of less present conflicts that have been identified are ‘Intraorganizational Conflicts Linked to the Organization’s Goals’ and ‘Intraorganizational Conflicts Linked to the Institutions’ Nature’.
Resultado del Análisis de Contenido para la recolección de evidencias empíricas.
|Taxonomy of Organizational Conflicts
according to their scope of action.
|Empiric evidences collected from organizational conflicts in the authors of the selected academic papers.(Y: Yes)|
|Due to scarce resources||-||x||x||x||-||-||x||-||x||x||-||x||-||x||-||x||-||-||x||x||x||-|
|Due to goals||x||x||-||x||-||-||x||-||x||-||-||-||x||-||x||-||-||-||-||x||-||-|
|Due to facts||x||-||x||x||-||-||x||-||x||x||-||x||-||-||-||-||x||-||-||x||-||-|
Competition Around Resources
of Personal Authority
Summation of Occurrences of Empiric Evidences on Organizational Conflicts Collected in the Selected Bibliography
|Taxonomy of Organizational Conflicts according to their scope of action.||Occurrences||Percentage
|Intraorganizational Conflict Linked to Organizational Structure||14||64%|
|Intraorganizational Conflict Linked to the Workflow Manner||13||59%|
|Interpersonal Conflict due to Scarce Resources||11||50%|
|Intraorganizational Conflict due to Authority||9||41%|
|Interpersonal Conflict due to Facts||9||36%|
|Intraorganizational Conflict Resulting from Excessive Bureaucratization||8||36%|
|Interpersonal Conflict due to Goals||8||36%|
|Intraorganizational Conflict due to Competition Around Resources||6||27%|
|Intraorganizational Conflict due to Lack of Personal Authority||6||27%|
|Intraorganizational Conflict Linked to the Organization’s Goals||5||23%|
|Intraorganizational Conflict Linked to Institutions’ Nature||5||23%|
Therefore, within the scope of the two most present conflicts, there is the indication that the crew are not able to successfully deal with organizational conflicts on the ship, or they do not find in their leaders the ability or reliance to tackle the conflict in front of a great uncertainty towards the performance of maritime activity. This is shown by the second position (relative frequency of 59%) in empiric evidences identified for Intraorganizational Conflicts Due Workflow Manners. In this logic, we can conclude that the Organization’s Senior Management does not seem to understand or seems unable to provide better working conditions in order to achieve a further reduction in organizational conflicts. This can be observed in the higher amount of empiric evidences (relative frequency of 64%) in the category ‘Intraorganizational Conflicts Linked to Organizational Structure’.
This situation is verified by the fourth position (relative frequency of 50%) for Interpersonal Conflicts due to Scarce Resources. This implies that the crew has not been properly supported by the Organization for a safe and efficient ship operation. In this scenario, the authority of leaderships seems forced to be reinforced within an environment of obedience and pressure towards the fulfillment of the established goals through a militarized ambiance on board. This is supported by a determined hierarchy bureaucratized by the performance legislation, which would justify the presence of Intraorganizational Conflicts due to Authority, whose empiric evidences have a relative frequency of 41%, in the fourth place, which prevents a higher participation and cooperation on decision making processes. This lack of more horizontally-oriented management of the performance of activities on board Maritime Support Vessels limits the worker’s self-perception, as well as empathy toward one another in the workplace.
The objective of this article was to identify and categorize existing organizational conflicts in vessels providing maritime support services in offshore activities. By identifying the existing conflicts through the categorization of Armadans, Vega and Sacristan (2016), presented in Tables 1 and 2, this objective is understood as accomplished. These have been identified for all conflict subtypes of this kind, within the content analysis of the selected academic papers. Although no work was found that evidenced all subtypes at once was, we can nonetheless conclude that all organizational conflict subtypes are found in a Maritime Support vessel. This shows how much this profession’s exercise can be disrupted, which becomes concerning.
An organizational conflict between individuals, groups and in any organization should not be understood as something only harmful to the company, because it has its advantages. What distinguishes the advantages or disadvantages is the way in which conflict is managed within the Organization, since we have already seen that these must be minimized and transformed into opportunities. However, transforming conflicts into opportunities is not simple. Thus, it is the Academy’s duty to collaborate so that the Industry improves its organizational processes. This way, as a final part of this study’s objective, three main recommendations are presented for the conflicts’ minimization in Maritime Support vessels, opposite to this Dissertation’s focus Literature, in order to induce the High Leadership’s interest in these maritime work’s emerging situations.
The first recommendation is to find an effective policy, which will be transformed into actions so that the seafarers’ difficult conditions are diminished. We must not forget the commercial bias and even the Organization’s survival in the market for the Maritime Support vessels covered in this paper which belong to the private initiative. Thus, it is necessary that the capital invested in the Organization by the owners is duly remunerated. However, the High Leadership must take the empirical evidence of stress cases, harassment, lack of resources and discouragement into account for an effective Organization’s support towards the worker’s physical and mental well-being: A simple example for a measure would be the opportunity for a crew’s family members to have greater access to the vessel when in port, with the possibility of being with their loved ones on short voyages. Parallel to this action, attention to the confinement’s presence, pressure for results, short time off work and long periods on board are highlighted, among others, as the main points that lead to maritime workers’ conflicts inside vessels. There is also a demand for a firmer position of the Authorities and of the Organization's own audit team for an effective audit of the maritime employee’s exploitation cases figure, since some Organizations do not follow the legal standards for guaranteeing rights in this activity.
The second recommendation lies in the key positions on board: the Officers, who have higher education, according to Santana (2016) "crew members with a bachelor's degree in nautical sciences, both in nautical and machines’ modification" (p.60). They must receive specific training in out of court consensual conflict resolution methods, because, as Vargas (2017) states, "the positive effects on people's lives are relevant" (p.42). Because of the leadership and the responsibility’s importance within an offshore team, this position would be prone to being trained to face the team’s boat organizational conflict solving. To ensure trust on the best option for the conflict’s solution. Training leaders in Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration, and the other crew members in Negotiation would lead to a more cooperative environment’s creation vector, stemming from a specific education perspective for which the Organization must force itself to try, since the Literature manages presenting recent analysis cases where the conflict is presented as an organizational relations improvement opportunity. Highlighting that Officials must be able to identify the most efficient conflict solving method is important: in Mediation, a third party seeks the solution by the rest; in Conciliation, a third party is also involved, that suggests the possible solution; in Arbitration, another third party determines the case’s solution (Vargas, 2017); and in Negotiation, the parties could solve the conflict by themselves (Bello, 2017). This consensual methods’ tool on the vessel can be decisive in reducing the tension state caused by the organizational conflicts verified in Tables 1 and 2. It is important that the Organization of Maritime Support Boats requests the Brazilian Navy for the conflict resolution cooperative methods training, for it to still be included as a constant compulsory subject in the maritime workers studying frameworks’ training content relation. On the other hand, a certain trade off regarding the tool’s implementation is expected, opposed to the military apparel’s vertical structure prevailing on board. However, Salles and Mello (2017) reinforce that the ship's leadership needs "to exercise the role of managing conflicts, identifying them and knowing how to deal with all situations, presenting solutions to problems" (p.24). This is a message towards a company’s High Leadership deep consideration. It must face it for a better sea professional’s performance: with better qualification towards situations that can change the performance, the delivery for the result’s probability is much greater. The Policy of the Organization should also be revised in this regard, as well as the training to be ministered by Institutions that hold credibility, implementing it to the Organization’s employees. Special attention should be paid to the fact that this instructor has the condition of being on board the Maritime Support vessel to live the environment where organizational conflicts occur. This makes sense, since it avoids the maritime worker losing some deserved rest period for attending this training. Another necessary point in this Plan is the Organization’s staff members compulsory periodic retraining, which should also be implemented, with the suggestion for every two years. As part of this Plan, this training can be ministered at the time of the employee's admission, since there would be available time during this process, for both to the crew member and the Organization.
The third recommendation follows a direction within the Organization’s Institutional Communication. It aims for its own voice to be clear, objective and understood by the entire company, to mainly reach the Marine Support vessel’s crew with an efficient communication. Cal (2015) adds that it "unites parts, groups and niches" (p.18). Information on how to deal with the Organization's standards, procedures and rules must be available for corporate policies to be fully implemented. Thus, the development of practical actions to promote the Organization's internal communication improvement would be very welcome. Looking beyond, on the psychosocial side, social contact, albeit at a distance, of their crew members with their families when they are on board is important.
Limitations and Theoretical, Practical and Methodological Improvement Lines
During work performance, some limitations were identified conditioning it and its results, which were also observed as opportunities for future research indications. Thus, in this sense, limitations are presented and can be the basis for future studies:
Initially, this study is based on a content analysis qualitative method, which is based on the researcher's inference not supported by any other quantitative method. Despite the qualitative research’s validity, this academic work is limited by not being validated by a practice-based Cartesian methodology. A suggestion for future work, is the use of a scale question questionnaire to collect the sea professionals’ answer as the target population of the research. One option would be the Likert style, for example, as an information collecting tool for statistical treatment after the answers are obtained in a multiplicity of visions. It is thus understood as a Dissertation’s limitation not to have empirical evidences inferred by the researcher, supported by a methodology with a quantitative base to avoid possible subjective choices.
Another limitation identified in this study was its focus on the Maritime Support vessel, since the selected academic works have situations that are directly or indirectly applied to a vessel. Thus, they leave aside the Organization as a whole. It also has support activities for Maritime Support vessels, in offices located on the continent. High Management is also located there, which, as part of the Organization responsible for the vessels, has the responsibility of providing conflict resolution tools, since they are ultimately indirectly involved in on board organizational conflicts. In addition, not all articles enable specific separation of the Maritime Support activity in the academic work analysis unit between the entire Organization, and the groups that support the vessels and others that make up the Maritime Support vessel’s crew. Various articles emphasize thatno distinction is made between Maritime Workers' Organizations, which develop their activities on Maritime Support vessels or those working on fixed Oil Platforms. The lack of clearer, more detailed and stronger empirical evidence in the academic papers selected for identifying the components of a Maritime Support Organization itself is, thus, understood as a Dissertation’s limitation.
A third observed opportunity was that this study is based on bibliographic sources selected only in the Google Scholar database, where few publications on the subject were found. This may indicate a limitation in the theoretical resources that subsidize the work. Aiming to broaden the theoretical base research extracted from other freely accessible data banks, such as Scielo, Scopus, Periódicos Capes, Data Banks of Public and Private Universities and other virtual libraries, would guarantee a richer and more careful selection of academic works going through the content analysis optics. This action, in turn, would tend to provide a stronger theoretical base and would contribute to a more solid result of this work. It is then understood as a limitation of the Dissertation not to have empirical evidence gathered from a greater variety of bibliographic sources.
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