Work in cross-cultural teams

If you have ever been on a big ship, you will have noticed that people from all around the world and from many different cultures are working there. The world meets on board! However, understanding and respecting each other is crucial if you need to work in a team. That’s what cross-cultural training is for.

© michaeljung
Teamwork requires understanding each other.

Multiculturalism in shipping

The shipping sector is highly globalised and the maritime labour market is widely multicultural. Therefore, shipping companies are increasingly aware of the importance of cross-cultural training and management. The culturally diverse working conditions on board mean cross cultural competence is an essential seafaring skill.

This requires effective cooperation in the field of communication between all stakeholders: the industry on a macro-level, as well as the shipping companies and relevant organisations on a micro-level.

Knowledge and skills

Seafarers have to work with a wide range of different cultures; on board as well as in port. Not knowing the cultural differences of the people involved can lead to a large number of misunderstandings, unnecessary controversies and evitable accidents.

Cross-cultural competency can facilitate career mobility and transfer, from ship to shore positions and vice versa. 

Competencies that are important to cross-cultural education and training include

  • the fair attitude towards people from different cultures
  • one’s ability to lead, manage, receive orders and cooperate with people of different nationalities, 
  • an understanding and ability to handle cultural dynamics
  • cultural and self-cultural awareness
  • the ability to follow orders from people of different culture and
  • the ability to teach and learn from people of different cultures.

Additional sources


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