For us, social innovation refers to new ways of managing, organizing, and arranging work. It addresses the many diverse needs of today’s employees, leading to increased performance and lasting success in our rapidly changing world.
Research has shown that socially innovative companies are more productive, have more satisfied employees, are better able to win new customers and realize significantly higher turnover and profit growth (Volberda et al., 2011).
Yet it is not easy to transform the maritime sector, which is characterized by traditional structures, hierarchies, and old-fashioned relationships, into a socially innovative sector. It is difficult to imagine how the work of seafarers, for example, can be arranged in such a way that it meets the desire of being away from home less often. Working parttime or flexible is easy to achieve with office jobs, but on a ship it’s a different story.
Diversity and inclusiveness are more important than ever, because new jobs are mainly filled by women and minorities. At the same time, the maritime sector is characterized predominantly by white men. This makes it less attractive for other groups of employees to join the sector.
Therefore, we need to research the possibilities for social innovation within the maritime industry. The results must be shared widely, so that companies, large and small, can learn from them. In this way, we can usher in a new era for the sector.