Effects of national culture on human failures in container shipping: The moderating role of Confucian dynamism

Chin-shan Lu, Kee Hung Lai, Y. H.Venus Lun, Edwin Tai Chiu Cheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Recent reports on work safety in container shipping operations highlight high frequencies of human failures. In this study, we empirically examine the effects of seafarers' perceptions of national culture on the occurrence of human failures affecting work safety in shipping operations. We develop a model adopting Hofstede's national culture construct, which comprises five dimensions, namely power distance, collectivism/individualism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity/femininity, and Confucian dynamism. We then formulate research hypotheses from theory and test the hypotheses using survey data collected from 608 seafarers who work on global container carriers. Using a point scale for evaluating seafarers' perception of the five national culture dimensions, we find that Filipino seafarers score highest on collectivism, whereas Chinese and Taiwanese seafarers score highest on Confucian dynamism, followed by collectivism, masculinity, power distance, and uncertainty avoidance. The results also indicate that Taiwanese seafarers have a propensity for uncertainty avoidance and masculinity, whereas Filipino seafarers lean more towards power distance, masculinity, and collectivism, which are consistent with the findings of Hofstede and Bond (1988). The results suggest that there will be fewer human failures in container shipping operations when power distance is low, and collectivism and uncertainty avoidance are high. Specifically, this study finds that Confucian dynamism plays an important moderating role as it affects the strength of associations between some national culture dimensions and human failures. Finally, we discuss our findings' contribution to the development of national culture theory and their managerial implications for reducing the occurrence of human failures in shipping operations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-469
Number of pages13
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


  • Container shipping
  • Hierarchical regression analysis
  • Human failures
  • National culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Law


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