ThesisPDF Available

The sea within: embodied sensemaking among seafaring leaders

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Embodied sensemaking has the potential to cause catastrophic loss of life at sea. However, paradoxically, it can enable seafaring leaders to save lives, protect the environment and create order from chaos in complex and high-risk work contexts. Yet, embodied sensemaking remains unexplored within contemporary maritime human factors (MHF) literature. MHF’s prevailing paradigms of Cartesian dualism and reductionist research methodologies are inadequate for engaging with the complex and interconnected nature of living and working at sea. This doctoral thesis pursues the question: How do seafaring leaders make sense of critical events that confront their practice? In particular, it explores the degree that sensemaking is an embodied phenomenon. It does so via a research method that is novel to MHF studies; a phenomenologically attentive narrative interpretive approach. This research design involved semi-structured interviews with twenty seafaring leaders (master mariners and chief engineers). Denzin’s interpretive interactionism (2001) was employed to generate thick descriptions of seafaring leader narratives, which were then interpreted to arrive at impactful insights into the nature of sensemaking, revealing it to be a deeply embodied phenomenon. These interpretations were then theoretically examined to validate and extend upon these insights. This thesis concludes that there is a “bottom-up”, neurobiological dynamic that shapes the way seafaring leaders make sense of critical events, as well as their every-day professional practice. This dynamic is based upon commonly shared neural populations that bodily integrate perceptions, actions, emotions, sensations, and thoughts in a mind/body sensemaking system that is enmeshed with its environment. Additionally, there is a “bottom-up”, sociological dynamic that also shapes the way that seafaring leaders make sense of critical events. This sociological dynamic, conceptualised by Bourdieu as habitus, is scaffolded and reinforced by the neurobiological dynamic described above. As such, it too is an embodied phenomenon. Both these neurobiological and sociological forms of sensemaking are largely hidden from the conscious awareness of seafaring leaders. As such, this thesis makes a number of original academic and practice-based contributions, such as; • applying a holistic, interpretive approach to examining embodied sensemaking among seafaring leaders. • connecting embodiment, phronesis (or practice wisdom) and habitus in a comprehensive and theoretically validated manner. • developing a set of practice-based recommendations, including pragmatic tools and techniques designed to bring embodied sensemaking within the awareness of seafaring leaders. This thesis concludes with a call to action for the broader maritime sector to integrate embodied sensemaking within its theoretical paradigms.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... 499). This perspective challenges a reductionist conception of cognition as solely comprised of mental representations of people, objects and ideas that are subject to rational and behavioural processes (Roberts, 2019). Rather, from a neurophenomenological perspective, phenomena are experienced as also emerging through a living being's interaction with the world and with others, in what Loftus (See chapter on Goethe this volume) describes as unfolding and dynamic real-world processes. ...
... Furthermore, the mariners must maintain exceptional levels of operational reliability and safety, while managing rapidly changing customer demands in the competitive oil and gas industry. These factors make the lifeworld of the master mariner volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) in the extreme (Roberts, 2019). I was keen to explore how these professionals made sense of these complex dynamics, and to determine the degree that this sensemaking was an embodied phenomenon. ...
... In terms of affect, or emotional aspects of their phenomenological narratives, these professionals appeared to be enacting their roles via their emotions, rather than merely experiencing emotions as by-products that "leaked" from them during these intense encounters (Barrett, 2017;Colombetti, 2017). There was evidence of embodiment in the ways master mariners enacted their roles -balancing the need for autocracy and autonomy with the need to be collaborative with stakeholders such as customers, head office managers and regulatory authorities (Roberts, 2019). Harmonising these paradoxical dimensions of their professional relationships involved reflection on their identities -not just as masters on their ships, but as living beings within their precarious lifeworlds. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The emerging field of neurophenomenology provides a source of fresh insights into professional practice from an embodied perspective. This chapter draws upon the lifeworld perspectives of master mariners at sea to illustrate the potential benefits of applying a neurophenomenological lens to better understand professional practice and its development. Neurophenomenology aims to integrate the fields of cognition, neurobiology and the phenomenological examination of human experience in order to advance and illuminate understandings of human consciousness. While it remains an emerging interdisciplinary field, it is supported by decades of empirical, neurobiological evidence. As such, it provides an evidence-informed approach to understanding embodied dimensions of practice. This chapter considers what neurophenomenology can bring to embodied perspectives, in professional education, and how neurophenomenology can enlighten educational practices that support professionals’ being, doing and becoming. The chapter draws on relevant examples from master mariners at sea, as well as other professional contexts, and demonstrates that neurophenomenology provides a fruitful and tantalising lens for developing insights into education and professional practice.
... AMSA's culture has a strong maritime orientation. Roberts [55] suggests the culture of seafaring leadership can be described as autocratic, self-sufficient and somewhat paternalistic. Behaviours such as effective listening and collaboration with stakeholders do not occur naturally in this culture. ...
Article
Full-text available
The paper challenges traditional perspectives around the voluntary nature of a corporation’s social responsibilities in light of debates around responsive regulation that requires regulatory engagement by salient stakeholders in the processes and outcomes of an organisation’s operations in contemporary dynamic environments. In critiquing regulatory reform, the paper highlights conditions and cultures that enhance collaborative practice to support a more holistic appreciation of risk, stakeholder engagement and corporate sustainability outcomes. These factors are seen as relevant to more sustainable governance and to enhancing a social licence to operate for both regulator and regulatees. These insights help shape a dynamic “responsive regulation” model to achieve the objectives of regulatory partnerships for more sustainable governance and organisational outcomes. The model facilitates an exploration of regulatory behaviours, attitudes and cultures in the increasingly marketised higher education sector and maritime industry. These include: the nature of collaborative process in promoting a shared understanding of industry-wide and contextually nuanced pressures on regulators and regulatees; addressing dynamic stakeholder expectations concerning economic, social, environmental and governance activity; the ethics of broad-based stakeholder engagement in identifying and addressing problems; and, means of achieving more holistic action in addressing attendant risks to sustainability of business and regulatory processes. The paper discusses opportunities, in an era of regulatory capitalism, for responsive regulation and associated stakeholder engagement to constitute a significant mechanism whereby more sustainable governance might be achieved.
Article
Full-text available
Purpose Phenomenology is widely recognised for its power to generate nuanced understanding of lived experience and human existence. However, phenomenology is often made inaccessible to prospective researchers due to its specialised nomenclature and dense philosophical underpinnings. This paper explores the value of the researcher’s lived experience as a pathway into phenomenological inquiry. The purpose of this paper is to improve the accessibility of phenomenology as a method for qualitative analysis. It achieves this by aligning Husserl’s concept of phenomenological epoche, or bracketing of preconceptions, and the author’s lived experience as a practitioner of kendo, or Japanese fencing. Design/methodology/approach The paper employs the narrative vignette as a means of illuminating the intersections between kendo practice and the application of phenomenological epoche as it applies to the understanding of embodied sensemaking. Reflections on the narrative vignette identified a suite of techniques from kendo practice that were applied to a phenomenological approach for critical incident interviews. These techniques were then applied to 30 critical incident, semi-structured interviews as part of a PhD research project into embodied sensemaking. Findings The results from these interviews suggest that the kendo-derived techniques were effective in generating thick narratives from participants during semi-structured interviews. Examination of the results provided insights into the linkage between phenomenology as a continental philosophy and eastern perspectives such as those found within the Zen traditions and other aesthetic practices. Originality/value This research suggests that lived experience such as kendo practice can provide a ready-to-hand pathway to phenomenological inquiry.
Article
Full-text available
The present review examines the research literature on Non-Technical Skills (NTS) used by ships’ bridge officers in connection with navigation. The aim of the study was to (i) identify the cognitive and interpersonal skills which have been the focus of previous studies and (ii) explore how the content of these skills has been described. Databases searched included Academic Search Premier, PsycINFO, Science Direct, and Web of Science. Nineteen studies were included in the review. Five NTS were identified: situation awareness (SA), decision-making (DM), workload management (WM), communication, and leadership. In addition to discussing each skill, the review raises four overarching issues with the present literature for the bridge domain: (1) Have all the relevant skills been subject to exploration? (2) Have the skills identified been explored in detail? (3) There seems to be an uneven distribution of research between cognitive and interpersonal skills. (4) There is little research into understanding the skills as a complete taxonomy. Knowledge on how the skills are linked and interplay with one another is incomplete. Overall, further research on all these aspects of NTS in the maritime domain could increase scientific understanding and contribute to bridge operational practice and to the further development and evaluation of NTS training such as Bridge Resource Management (BRM).
Article
Full-text available
Despite the promises of simulations to contribute to learning in safe-critical domains, research suggests that simulators are poorly implemented in maritime education and training systems. From the current state of research, it is far from evident how instruction in simulator-based should be designed and how skills trained in bridge simulators should be assessed and connected to professional practice. On this background, this article aims to investigate the role of instructions and assessments for developing students’ professional competencies in simulation-based learning environments. The research draws on ethnographic fieldwork and detailed analyses of video-recorded data to examine how maritime instructors make use of simulator technologies in a navigation course. Our results reveal an instructional practice in which the need to account for general principles of good seamanship and anti-collision regulations is at the core of basic navigation training. The meanings of good seamanship and the rules of the sea are hard to teach in abstraction because their application relies on an infinite number of contingencies that have to be accounted for in every specific case. Based on this premise, we stress the importance of instructional support throughout training (from briefing thorough scenario to debriefing) in order for the instructor to bridge theory and practice in ways that develop students’ competencies. Our results highlight, in detail, how simulator technologies enable displaying and assessing such competencies by supporting instructors to continuously monitor, assess, and provide feedback to the students during training sessions. Moreover, our results show how simulator-based training is related to the work conditions on board a seagoing vessel through the instructor’s systematic accomplishments. Finally, our results highlight the close relationship between technical and non-technical skills in navigation, and how these are intertwined in training for everyday maritime operations.
Article
Full-text available
This study examines the available evidence of high reliability organisational (HRO) theoryas a strategy to manage construction safety: (1) Background: High reliability organisations (HROs)have been under investigation by organisational scholars to understand how they function at anexceptionally high level with few or no accidents under challenging circumstances. The constructionindustry is a high risk industry and is also known for a high fatality rate around the world.This systematic review examines the available evidence of HROs as a strategy to manage constructionsafety; (2) Methods: A systematic review to summarise and critically appraise the literature on highreliability organisational theory, aimed at improving construction safety; (3) Results: Of 2724 articlesfound, fifteen studies met the inclusion criteria for qualitative synthesis and review. Six of thestudies were from construction, four were from general HROs research, two were from health care,and three were from the aerospace, oil and gas, and nuclear industries; (4) Conclusion: Based on theavailable evidence, transferring the practices and principles of HROs to construction, the validationof proposed assessing tools and a consensus HRO definitions are the major issues identified
Article
The concept of phronesis is venerable and is experiencing a resurgence in contemporary discourses on professional life. Aristotle’s notion of phronesis involves reasoning and action based on ethical ideals oriented towards the human good. For Aristotle, humans possess the desire to do what is best for human flourishing, and to do so according to the application of virtues. Within health care, the pervasiveness of economic agendas, technological approaches and managerialism create conditions in which human relationships and moral reasoning are becoming increasingly de‐valued. This creates a tension for nurses, and nursing leaders, as the desire to do what is morally right is often in conflict with contextual demands. In this paper, Aristotle’s writing on phronesis is examined with a focus on his classic conceptions of eudaimonia, the virtues, deliberation, judgement, and praxis. Building on Aristotle’s work, a number of contemporary views are explored with a focus on what various conceptualizations offer for the discipline of nursing. These expanded conceptions of phronesis include attention to: embodiment in practice; open‐mindedness including the capacity to stay curious and open to recognizing what we do not know; perceptiveness as a disposition towards insight and aesthetic understanding; and reflexivity as an ongoing process of interrogation and inquiry into ourselves and our actions. Drawing on these concepts, we discuss the affordances of phronesis as a morally informed guiding force to attend to modern‐day challenges in nursing practice and nursing leadership.
Article
Cognitive neuroscience provides new insights on cognition and intersubjectivity by emphasizing the crucial role of the body, the constitutive source of the pre-reflective consciousness of the self and of the other. The naturalization of cognition and intersubjectivity implies a first attempt to deconstruct the concepts we use when referring to these aspects of human nature by literally investigating what they are made of at the level of description of the brain-body system. This neurocognitive approach reveals the tight relationship between a core notion of the bodily self, namely its potentiality for action, and motor simulation at the level of the cortical motor system. The brain level of description is necessary but not sufficient to study intersubjectivity and the human self, unless coupled with a full appreciation of the tight relationship the brain entertains with the body and the world. I introduce the mirror mechanism (MM) and embodied simulation (ES), discuss their relevance for a new account of basic aspects of perception and cognition, which privileges the body as the transcendental foundation of both. Finally, I answer some criticisms raised by Shaun Gallagher on ES.
Article
Poor lookout, lack of situation awareness, and delayed response have been continuously recognized as contributory causes of navigation accidents (i.e., collisions and groundings). It is claimed that such negative behavioral characteristics can be corrected when the navigation system is equipped with the automation capability to intervene upon their detection. Building on the results of my previous work, this study sets the starting line in exploring this technological innovation under a conceptual framework, where it is attempted to employ simple, quantifiable, and measurable ways to assess the deck officer's (navigator's) complex aspect of mental task reliability. To deal with this challenge, the navigator's behavior when performing navigation tasks is described by the Markov method and the uncertainty, ambiguity, and weakness in perceiving accurately the environment and traffic conditions is determined by fuzzy logic. The proposed concept is demonstrated through its practical application in collision and grounding accidents, where it is argued that further research is required for its validation.
Article
HRM and Migration scholars increasingly employ Bourdieu’s concepts of capitals, fields and habitus to explain the interrelationships between migrant careers and context. Both literatures employ a Bourdieusean framework to examine devaluation of migrant capitals in host nations and migrant responses to such devaluation. However, their explanations are based on different assumptions of context. HRM literature regards migrants as confined to the host nation context, whereas Migration literature places them in a transnational context, spanning both originating and host nations. In this conceptual paper, we argue for integrating transnational perspectives into HRM literature to offer a more accurate portrayal of contemporary migrant lives, and to capture greater nuance in migrant career experiences. We seek to expand the conceptual lexicon to support new conceptualisations of transnational context, and to explore how locating a Bourdieusean framework in transnational contexts enhances its ability to explain migrant career experiences.