“Blue” social capital and work performance: anthropological fieldwork among crew members at four Danish international ships.


Grøn S. & Svendsen G. (2013):‘Blue’ social capital and work performance: Anthropological fieldwork among crew members at four Danish international ships. (WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs, vol 12 (2): 185-212)


One outcome of globalization is an increasing number of seafarers, who seldom are members of the same crew two voyages in a row and must cooperate with seafarers from many countries (Progoulaki and Roe WMU J Marit Affairs 10:7–23, 2011). This situation challenges the level of social capital on board, i.e., the resources inherent in network cooperation associated with norms of reciprocity and trust (Putnam 2000: 19). Fragmentized “blue” social capital should, however, be restored, as work performance depends on the quality of cooperation among crew members horizontally, as well as between crew members and the shipping company vertically. Drawing on anthropological fieldwork data from four Danish international ships, the purpose of this paper is to offer a new theoretical framework for analyzing cooperation among crews. Our inductive empirical findings suggest that a balance between three types of social capital—bonding, bridging and linking—is needed to achieve a high-performing work system (Gittell et al. Organ Sci 21(2):490–506, 2010). Hence, the main actors within the shipping sector should take “blue” social capital into account to increase work efficiency and economic performance.


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