Scholarly article on topic 'The Selection of a Foreign Seafarer Supply Country for Korean Flag Vessels'

The Selection of a Foreign Seafarer Supply Country for Korean Flag Vessels Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Ying Wang, Gi Tae Yeo

ABSTRACT Maritime labor is currently and will continue to be a scarce resource; ship officer demand will reach 147,500 by 2025. To assure a stable supply of qualified foreign seafarers, this study aims to research and select a foreign seafarer supply country for Korean Flag vessels. Factors influencing the selection were identified, and these factors were assessed by Delphi, fuzzy, and fuzzy TOPSIS methods in order to make a selection from several countries. Via empirical analysis by the fuzzy method, the results show that the factor of “total crew costs” is the most significant, followed by “quality of seafarers’ education and training” and “supply ability for well-trained seafarers.” “government support from supply countries” is the least weighted factor for decision makers. The alternative countries assessment by fuzzy TOPSIS method suggests that the Philippines should be chosen as the dedicated foreign seafarer supply country for Korean Flag vessels, given the analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of these alternative foreign seafarer supply countries. Finally, some implications for continuous improvement of the seafarer supply countries are provided.

Academic research paper on topic "The Selection of a Foreign Seafarer Supply Country for Korean Flag Vessels"

The Asian Journal ofShipping and Logistics 32(4) (2016) 221-227

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The Selection of a Foreign Seafarer Supply Country for Korean Flag Vessels

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Ying WANG", Gi Tae YEO"

a Assistant Professor, Yantai University, China, E-mail: yingmickey@163.com (First .Author) b Professor, Incheon National University, Korea, E-mail:ktyeo@inu.ac.kr (Corresponding Author)

ARTICLE INFO

ABSTRACT

Article history:

Received 27 August 2016

Received in revised form 25 November 2016

Accepted 30 November 2016

Keywords:

Foreign Seafarer Supply, Korean Flag Vessels, Fuzzy TOPSIS, Decision Making

Maritime labor is currently and will continue to be a scarce resource; ship officer demand will reach 147,500 by 2025. To assure a stable supply of qualified foreign seafarers, this study aims to research and select a foreign seafarer supply country for Korean Flag vessels. Factors influencing the selection were identified, and these factors were assessed by Delphi, fuzzy, and fuzzy TOPSIS methods in order to make a selection from several countries. Via empirical analysis by the fuzzy method, the results show that the factor of "total crew costs" is the most significant, followed by "quality of seafarers' education and training" and "supply ability for well-trained seafarers." "government support from supply countries" is the least weighted factor for decision makers. The alternative countries assessment by fuzzy TOPSIS method suggests that the Philippines should be chosen as the dedicated foreign seafarer supply country for Korean Flag vessels, given the analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of these alternative foreign seafarer supply countries. Finally, some implications for continuous improvement of the seafarer supply countries are provided.

Copyright © 2016 The Korean Association of Shipping and Logistics, Inc. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

1. Introduction

Shipping is one of the most dangerous industries in the world, and seafaring is viewed as a high-risk career due to the unpredictability on board the ship, which could lead to injuries, ill health, or even loss of life (Lua and Tsaib, 2010). Unfavorable working conditions onboard, long periods of time away from home and family, problems posed by cultural differences, and isolation and/or loneliness among officers are the main causes cited for the global shortage of seafarers (Caesar, Cahoon and Fei, 2015). The lack of supply for these roles has forced national shipping companies to hire out recruiting in a board labor market by paying lower

crew costs (Glen, 2008). However, the progressive increase of crew costs and crew shortage caused by the risk factors and demanding professional requirements make seafarer recruitment more difficult. A report from the International Maritime Organization on global supply and demand for seafarers in 2015 showed that ship officer demand will reach 147,500 in 2025. Seafarer recruitment has gained attention in the past decade due to insufficient labor supply, in both quantity and quality, as demanded by the shipping industry (Lobrigo and Pawlik, 2015). Additionally, foreign seafarers in developing countries prefer the smooth operation and other

This work was supported by the Incheon National University (International Cooperative) Research Grant in 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajsl.2016.12.005

2092-5212/© 2015 The Korean Association of Shipping and Logistics, Inc. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. Peer review under responsibility ofthe Korean Association of Shipping and Logistics, Inc.

benefits of developed shipping companies (Ding and Liang, 2005).

As a major player in maritime industry, Korea also recognizes the importance of suitably qualified seafarers. It is commercially disadvantageous for shipping companies to hire native Korean seafarers, as this would prevent them from competing in terms of operating costs (Lobrigo and Pawlik, 2015). Starting in 1991, the Korean government licensed foreign seafarer recruitment boarding on Korean Flag vessels. Currently, Korean Flag vessels are served by a mix of seafarers of several nationalities, as seafaring is a truly global, multinational and multicultural occupation. Although shipping companies can benefit from lower crew costs this way, unsatisfactory aspects also exist. A melting pot of crew members on board may result in cultural misunderstandings, which present a serious risk in achieving an efficient, quality operation; seafarers cannot always easily or quickly cope with or understand one another. Generally, shipping companies try to experiment with permutations of ship officers and different nationalities until they hit upon an effective combination that remains stable throughout operations, though the effect is often not ideal (Silos et al., 2012). Under the pressure of undersupply of qualified seafarers to meet the requirements of the merchant fleet, the Korean government is attempting to improve the maritime labor supply environment by selecting a fixed and reliable country as the dedicated seafarer supplier for Korean Flag vessels' seafarer recruitment. It plans to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the chosen seafarer supply country and fund education and training schools. With supply from this dedicated country, communication problems arising from cultural issues can be avoided, and the stream of supply of qualified seafarers can be assured.

This study aims to select a foreign seafarer supply country for Korean Flag vessels by assessing alternative seafarer supply countries' performances. Therefore, factors influencing the selection of foreign seafarer supply countries are identified; further, via empirical analysis, the strengths and weaknesses of these alternative foreign seafarer supply countries can be understood, and the ideal seafarer supply country can be proposed. Finally, some implications for continuous improvement of seafarer supply countries are provided.

2. Factors influencing the selection of foreign seafarer supply countries

The selection of a foreign seafarer supply country is a multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM) problem faced by decision makers, i.e. shipping companies. Therefore, when using this MCDM theoretical foundation, before the decision making, the factors that influence the selection of the foreign seafarer supply country should first be obtained and summarized, based on previous studies.

For shipping companies, the decision-making process of foreign seafarer recruitment mainly depends on crew costs, since these costs are the highest of all "fixed costs" accounted for by the seafarer. Previous studies focus on factors that affect the performance of seafarers when shipping companies recruit them from these supply countries. Ding and Liang (2005) conducted an empirical analysis of the seafarer selection process of national shipping companies based on a binary logit model. Crew costs, knowledge and skills, ability to communicate, physical and psychological attitudes, and conditions of seagoing service were important factors identified as having a bearing on national shipping companies' hiring preferences. Wu and Winchester (2005) concluded that seafarers should be selected according to manning cost, legal constraints of the

recruitment country, and their onboard management experience. Tsamourgelis (2009) proposed that the main influential factors in seafarer recruitment included loyalty, wages, seafarer cooperation, efficiency, and better education and training. Lobrigo and Pawlik's study (2015) indicated that the main decisive factors for maritime labor demand included total crew costs, restrictions on the nationalities of employed seafarers, technical and cultural competence, and the quality of seafarers as influenced by maritime education and training.

Wu (2004) addressed Chinese seafarer preference in recruitment, and the results showed that, in modern multinational crewing patterns, seafarers with competence in language and cultural compatibility are more competitive. Seafarers should be able to work well alongside diverse crews and groups and speak different languages. In this multicultural environment, misunderstandings could easily arise, presenting a serious risk to achieving a quality operation, especially in emergency situations. Therefore, a multicultural seafarer combination on board is a bottleneck for improvements in shipping safety (Horck, 2004; Romelczyk and Becker, 2016), and knowledge of language becomes a key determinant in seafarer recruitment (Silos et al., 2012).

Due to advances in maritime technology, increased safety requirements, environmental protection and other factors, some new responsibilities have fallen on seafarers, requiring them to have professional qualifications in order to improve operating efficiency in port and during shipping (Silos et al., 2012). As an OECD Member country, EU has challenges (e.g., flagging out of EU vessels, training factors of EU nationals, and retention of maritime know-how) and opportunities (e.g., EU shipping policy, regulation framework support, and extended maritime cluster) in seafarer recruitment, especially regarding the role of the seafaring profession in sustaining and developing EU's maritime sector (Mitroussi, 2008). Wu, et al. (2006) proposed the concept of "new professionalism" to show how Chinese seafarers can be more easily recruited by foreign shipping companies. "New professionalism" is characterized by four distinctive features: enthusiasm to work in the global labor market; preference for a multicultural working environment; movement toward international standards for both performance and pay; and desire for independent trade unions.

This section summarizes a list of factors influencing the decisionmaking process of national shipping companies in foreign seafarer recruitment using a detailed literature review based on previous studies with a time frame mainly from 2004 to 2016, as shown in Table 1. These factors will be employed as the basic appraisal factors in future research about factor determination by the Delphi method.

Table 1

Factors influencing the selection of foreign seafarer supply countries

Factors summarized by previous studies Factors determined by experts

total crew costs (Wu, 2004; Liang ,2005; Lobrigo and Pawlik, 2015) total crew costs

quality of seafarers education and training (Wu and Winchester, 2005; Romelczyk and Becker, 2016) quality of seafarers education and training

cross-culture management skills (Wu, 2004; Horck, 2004; Romelczyk and Becker, 2016) cross-culture management skills

supply ability for well-trained seafarers (Mitroussi, 2008; Lobrigo and Pawlik, 2015) supply ability for well-trained seafarers

loyalty to shipping companies (Tsamourgelis, 2009; Romelczyk and Becker, 2016) loyalty to shipping companies

culture or religion conflict (Wu, 2004; Wu, et al., 2006) culture or religion conflict

maritime labour policies of supply countries (Tsamourgelis, 2009; Lobrigo andPawlik, 2015) maritime labour policies of supply countries

restriction on the nationality of recruited seafarers (Wu and Winchester, 2005; Lobrigo and Pawlik, 2015) restriction on the nationality of recruited seafarers

government support from supply countries (Tsamourgelis, 2009; Lobrigo and Pawlik, 2015) government support from supply countries

onboard management experience of seafarers (Liang, 2005; Mitroussi, 2008; Tsamourgelis, 2009; Wu, et al., 2006) onboard management experience of seafarers

legal constraints from supply countries (Tsamourgelis, 2009; Lobrigo andPawlik, 2015) legal constraints from supply countries

Knowledge of the English language (Liang, communication ability (language and

2005; Silos et al., 2012} thinking method)

communication abilitv (thinking method) (Horck, 2004; Wu, et al., 2006} market scale of seafarer supply countries

seafarers' union and organization operation situation

compatibility of seafarer certificate or license

3. Methodology

Choosing a foreign seafarer supply country for Korean Flag vessels is a group decision involving multi-factors, about which decision makers' preferences on factors or alternatives play a determinative effect. How to identify and synthesize the assessment structure of related factors that influence the selection of supply country more comprehensively and accurately is viewed as the first level of research, for which the Delphi method is employed in this study. The Delphi method is widely utilized in the field of factor determination due to its anonymity, iterative process, feedback process and consensus of group members via equal participation in outcomes (Duru and Yoshida, 2012). Additionally, the Delphi method ensures that the data and information is obtained accurately and completely from the experts (Tsai, Chang and Lin, 2010).

The foreign seafarer supply country assessment is based on the multi-factors confirmed by the Delphi method in the first level. However, most of the factors have strong subjectivity and no measurement rules, making it difficult to estimate the values. The ambiguity in the assessment using Delphi encouraged researchers to develop a method for expressing judgments more accurately via linguistic variables, the fuzzy method. The fuzzy method was developed by Zadeh in 1965, so many varied studies using fuzzy have been completed over the years with data that cannot be measured quantitatively (Akkaya, Turanoglu and Oztas, 2015). In the second level of our research, the fuzzy method is employed to set up the fuzzy matrix and compute the weights of each factor.

For choosing and examining alternative foreign seafarer supply countries, a fuzzy TOPSIS approach is proposed to support the assessment described above. Being one of the multi-factor decision-making methods, fuzzy TOPSIS enables the decision maker to identify priorities among the alternatives and weigh the significance. Decision makers can better understand the complete assessment process and provide more accurate, effective and systematic judgments (Wang and Chan, 2013). Such advantages make this technique an appropriate method for this study to determine the rankings of the alternatives.

The flow diagram for this study is shown in Figure 1.

Aim: Choose a foreign seafarer supply country for Korean-flag vessels

Level 1:

Delphi Method

Identify and synthesize the factors that influence the selection

of foreign seafarer supply countries

Level 2:

Fuzzy Method

Set up the fuzzy matrix and compute the weights of each factor

Level 3:

Fuzzy TOPSIS

Assess possible alternative foreign seafarer supply countries

Fig.l. Flow diagram of the research

3.1. Fuzzy method

The fuzzy method is based on fuzzy sets, which is a class of objects with a continuum of grades of membership. It is characterized by a membership function that assigns to each object a grade of membership ranging from 0 to 1. Particularly common in practical applications is the triangular fuzzy number (Wang, Chou and Yeo, 2013). A consists of three parameters (alta2,a3), and the membership function of A can be denoted as ^A(x).

The ith triangular fuzzy number in membership function n is defined in Equation 2.

A = (a®,a®,a®),i = 1,2, ...,n (1)

Moreover, fuzzification A is defined as follows: A =Aave = (Al + T2 + - + ;Q/n = (Z?=1 a®, Z?=1 a®, £?=1 a®)/

n = (aua2,a3)

Linguistic variables that are measured as forms of words or sentences can be quantified using the fuzzy method. Linguistic terms can denote a fuzzy set. Table 2 shows a triangular membership function that values linguistic measures from "very low" to "very high."

Table 2

Linguistic variables for the weight of each factor

Linguistic scale Fuzzy score

Very Low (VL) (0.0, 0.0, 0.1)

Low (L) (0.0, 0.1,0.3)

Medium Low (ML) (0.1,0.3, 0.5)

Medium (M) (0.3, 0.5, 0.7)

Medium High (MH) (0.5, 0.7, 0.9)

High (H) (0.7, 0.9, 1.0)

Very High (VH) (0.9, 1.0, 1.0)

The aim of defuzzification is to convert all of the results of the fuzzy set obtained in the previous step into crisp values. The most common defuzzification method is center of gravity. This method resolves the center of the area of the combined membership functions.

y' = a3 - y(a3-a1)(a3-a2)/2 (3)

y* represents the g-factor and its value defined by the center of gravity.

3.2. Fuzzy TOPSIS

The fuzzy TOPSIS steps are as follows:

(1) Using expert questionnaires, the fuzzy linguistic values (Xj,i = 1,2,..., n, j = 1,2,..., m) of the alternatives concerning the factors are chosen to determine the importance of each alternative using the fuzzy linguistic rating (Xj ), which keeps the ranges of normalized triangular fuzzy numbers that belong to [0, 10] shown in Table 3 (Buyukozkan and Cifci, 2012).

Table 3

Linguistic variables for the preference of each alternative

Linguistic scale Fuzzy score

Poor (P) (0, 1, 3)

Medium poor (MP) (1,3,5)

Fair (F) (3, 5, 7)

Medium good (MG) (5, 7, 9)

Good(G) (7, 9,10)

Very good (VG) (9, 10,10)

(2) Compute the weighted normalized fuzzy-decision matrix by

v = \vs 1 ,i = 1,2, ...,n,/' = 1,2, ...,m (4)

vf = xf * wi (5)

Wj is obtained from the fuzzy method via expert questionnaires.

(3) Determine the positive ideal (FPIS, A* ) and negative ideal (FNIS, ) solutions from equations 6 and 7, and then calculate the distances of each alternative from the ideal solution and the negative ideal

solution:

A* = {vi,..., Vj*} = {(maXj Vj ,i 6 (minj Vj ,i 6 (6)

A~ = {vf,..., vf} = {(minj v, ,i e (maXj Vj ,i 6 (7)

fi b are the sets of benefit criteria, and fi c are the sets of cost criteria.

Di = ZjSi d(Vj, Vj) ,i = 1,2.....n (8)

Df = ZjS1d(Vj,Vi),j = l,2.....m (9)

d(a,b) = V(l/3)[(a1 - K)2 + (a2 - b2)2 + (a3 - b3)2] (10)

a and b are two triangular fuzzy numbers, which are shown by the triplets (a1,a2,a3) and (b1,b2,b3).

(4) Determine the relative closeness of each alternative to the ideal solution. The relative closeness of the alternative Aj in relation to A* is characterized as follows:

FQ = Df/(D. + Df), i = 1,2,..., n (11)

4. Empirical analysis

4.1. Selection of alternativeforeign seafarer supply countries

To illustrate specific implications of choosing a foreign seafarer supply country for the Korean government and shipping companies at a national level, alternatives must be chosen first. Selections of the countries involved in this research are purposeful, in accordance with foreign seafarer recruitment data. The statistical data of Korean Flag vessels regarding foreign seafarer recruitment from 1991 to 2015 is presented in Table 4. Developing countries in Southeast Asia have gained a dominant role in maritime activity, occupying more than 90% of the seafarer recruitment market in Korea now, particularly in China, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam. These five countries are viewed as the target alternatives for future assessment. Additionally, the demand for foreign seafarers by Korean Flag vessels is clearly increasing.

Table 4

Foreign seafarer recruitment for Korean Flag vessels from 1991 to 2015

Total China Indonesia Vietnam Myanmar Philippines Others

1991 58 58 0 0 0 0 0

1993 517 517 0 0 0 0 0

1995 2,633 1,457 609 444 23 105 15

2000 7,639 2,437 2,632 1,209 235 1,069 57

2002 6,970 2,770 2,029 1,143 330 653 45

2004 7,390 2,888 2,146 1,154 492 662 48

2006 8,889 3,140 2,434 1,004 1,253 1,025 33

2007 9,916 3,565 2,889 1,105 995 1,327 35

2008 12,777 3,436 3,673 1,240 2,176 2,228 24

2009 13,789 3,615 3,958 1,588 2,399 2,197 32

2010 17,558 4,457 4,248 1,907 3,221 3,653 72

2011 19,550 4,002 5,339 2,385 3,856 3,880 88

2013 20,789 2,341 6,073 3,282 3,687 5,175 231

2015 24,624 (2,267) 2,000 (71) 6,895 (513) 4,697 (0) 4,619 (659) 6,321 (1,015) 92 (9)

Sources: Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Korean Seafarer's Statistical Yearbook.

Remark: ( ) is the number of ship officers 4.2. Determination of appraisal factors

The appraisal factors for choosing a foreign seafarer supply country are determined by the Delphi method, based on the factors summarized from the literature review. The interviewees are experts in Korean shipping companies because they are the real employers for foreign seafarer recruitment (i.e., the decision makers). We invite 11 experts to our interviews from main shipping companies in Korea, each with more than 12 years of professional experience. Before conducting the interviews with the experts by the Delphi method, a list with 13 related factors of foreign seafarer supply country selection summarized from the literature review was sent to them, in order to obtain better insight into the problem; the factor list is shown in the left side of Table 1. The interviews are conducted face-to-face and by phone and e-mail. The experts are asked whether any of the factors have been double-counted or any factors should be considered that are not on the list. Interviews are conducted for several

rounds, until most of experts agree on an influential factor list.

The final factors determined by the experts are shown in the right side of Table 1. The results indicate that the factor "knowledge of the English language" and "communication ability (thinking method)" are double-counted and should be combined as one factor "communication ability (language and thinking method)." Also, some other factors are added: "market scale of seafarer supply countries," "seafarers' union and organization operation situation" and "compatibility of seafarer certificate or license." After conducting the Delphi method, the appraisal factors structure is determined, with 15 factors for future factor and alternative assessment.

4.3. Assessment of factors and alternatives

Based on the obtained structure of appraisal factors, the questionnaire is distributed to the experts to assess the relative importance of the factors and make a decision about their foreign seafarer supply country selection. Decision making about the foreign seafarer supply country selection is not dependent on just shipping companies; some other interest groups, including maritime administration, maritime employment organizations, workers' union network, and maritime regulatory committees, also play important roles. To reinforce the experts' points of view, we also invited some experts from the other interest groups (also with more than 10 years' professional experience) to complete the questionnaire. In total, 31 questionnaires are received from the experts. Empirical analysis is based on the collected data via questionnaires obtained from these experts.

The fuzzy method is employed to assess the factors by linguistic variables in the questionnaires. After questionnaires are received, the linguistic variables are translated into fuzzy scores with a triangular fuzzy number for future weight calculations. For example, if one expert marked the factor "total crew costs" as high in the linguistic variables shown in Table 2, during the data coding process, the linguistic variable should be translated into the corresponding fuzzy scale as (0.7, 0.9, 1.0). The final fuzzy scores of each factor are obtained by equation (2), with the average value from data collected from the 31 experts. The last step of the fuzzy method is defuzzification, to ascertain the weights of each factor by equation (3). The assessment results of factors from 31 decision makers are shown in Table 5 in detail.

The factor "total crew costs," with the highest weight value, is ranked first as the most influential factor for decision makers when choosing a foreign seafarer supply country. For Korean Flag vessels, the cost of seafarer recruitment is the highest of all of the main items under operating costs. To compete in terms of cost with competitors and share that cost reduction with their customers, lower crew costs through recruiting foreign seafarers is the most common and efficient arrangement. Thus, national seafarers are progressively being replaced by nonnative ones. More attention is paid to "total crew costs" by decision makers when they choose a foreign seafarer supply country.

"Quality of seafarers' education and training" is ranked second, regarded as an important factor because seafarers' education and training level determine the professional qualities of the seafarers directly; well-educated and trained seafarers can better adapt to different working environments and reduce the risks of human error. However, to fill the demand gap of seafarers in the future, the factor "supply ability for well-trained seafarers" is also important. When decision makers choose the country for foreign seafarer supply, they will sign a MOU with that country and fund education and training schools of their own for seafarer supply to Korean Flag vessels. Confirming the seafarer supply ability of the chosen country is necessary for decision makers to fill the seafarer demand gap in the future. In other words, decision makers must investigate enough to know whether the people in this country are willing to be seafarers.

Ranked last, the factor "government support from supply countries" is the least concerning one within the appraisal factor structure for decision makers. These five countries are common foreign seafarer supply countries for shipping to developed countries, and to increase the employment rate for their countries, their governments have made many policies and incentives to promote seafarer export. Additionally, the decision makers were more concerned with seafarer quality and supply ability of the countries than about government support because basic support already exists and more incentives may be difficult and lengthy to achieve.

Table 5

Assessment of factors from decision makers

Factors Fuzzy score Defuzzification Rank

total crew costs (0.71, 0.87, 0.95) 0.84 1

quality of seafarers' education and training (0.70, 0.84, 0.92) 0.82 2

cross-cultural management skills (0.46, 0.64, 0.81) 0.64 11

supply ability for well-trained seafarers (0.68, 0.84, 0.93) 0.82 3

loyalty to shipping companies (0.57, 0.75, 0.88) 0.73 7

culture or religious conflict (0.49, 0.67, 0.82) 0.66 10

maritime labor policies of supply countries (0.61,0.79,0.91) 0.77 5

restriction on the nationalities of recruited seafarers (0.50, 0.68, 0.83) 0.67 9

government support from supply countries (0.35, 0.52, 0.69) 0.52 15

onboard management experience of seafarers (0.35, 0.52, 0.70) 0.52 14

legal constraints from supply countries (0.52, 0.70, 0.84) 0.69 8

communication ability (language and thinking method) (0.46, 0.63, 0.79) 0.63 12

market scale of seafarer supply countries (0.67, 0.83, 0.93) 0.81 4

seafarers' union and organization operation situation (0.46, 0.63, 0.79) 0.63 12

compatibility of seafarer certificate or license (0.61, 0.77, 0.89) 0.76 6

All five alternative countries should be assessed by the fuzzy TOPSIS method to make a decision about a foreign seafarer supply country selection after obtaining the weights of the factors. Related data is also collected from the 31 experts' questionnaires, and the calculation process corresponds to the fuzzy TOPSIS steps mentioned in Section 3. The results of the alternative countries' assessment from decision makers are shown in Table 6 in detail.

The Philippines ranks first as the most optimal country for foreign seafarer supply of Korean Flag vessels, as assessed by decision makers.

Among all of the 15 factors, the Philippines earned the best performance out of the five alternatives, except for in the factor "total crew costs." The Philippines is a maritime labor exporter adopting a pro-globalization labor export policy with the aim of promoting and developing the maritime manpower of the country in the long term. One advantage of the Philippines is that it can certainly supply qualified seafarers who are sufficiently educated and trained for the safe operation of ships. As shown in Table 4, the Philippines occupied 26% of foreign seafarer recruitment in 2015, especially in number of ship officers (1,015 of 2,267 total, which is almost half of the total foreign ship officer recruitment). Additionally, the communication ability of Filipino seafarers is much better than that of the other four countries, benefiting from fluent English skills. Although the recruitment costs of seafarers from the Philippines is more expensive than that of Myanmar, Vietnam, and Indonesia, the long-term experience for seafarer supply and an advanced exporter system can bring the Philippines recognition from seafarer import countries.

Table 6

Assessment of alternatives from decision makers

Alternatives D+ D- Fci Ranking

China 243.1027 9.188481 0.03642 5

Indonesia 137.5456 115.2055 0.45580 3

Vietnam 201.8109 50.63064 0.20056 4

Myanmar 121.9955 130.4111 0.51667 2

Philippines 23.37054 228.4134 0.90718 1

Ranked second, Myanmar is also a preferred country for foreign seafarer supply of Korean Flag vessels. Seafarer recruitment costs are much lower than that of the Philippines and China, and these seafarers are well-educated and trained in safety shipping; cross-cultural management skills are also excellent. The most attractive reason for decision makers to choose Myanmar is their loyalty to shipping companies; loyalty can maintain a longtime, stable contractual relationship between seafarers and companies and also provide more efficient operations. One obvious disadvantage of Myanmar is the market scale of seafarer supply, as shown in Table 4. The seafarer recruitment scale is growing yearly, but compared with other countries, the total scale and seafarer recruitment for officers is relatively small.

For Indonesia, two main reasons limit the preference of decision makers: first, the lack of supply in ship officers. As shown in Table 4, although the total supply of foreign seafarers in Indonesia is larger than Myanmar, ship officers occupy about 22.6% less than that in Myanmar. Second is the culture or religious conflict between Indonesian and Korean crew members. Almost all Indonesians are Moslems and not allowed to eat pork, but pork is a main meat selection for Koreans. The differences in diet and other religious conflicts may lead to trouble in coping for Korean seafarers.

The shipping industry in China has experienced a huge expansion in the last 50 years, on account of rapid economic recovery and growth; the expansion of vessels has led to corresponding growth in the seafarers' labor market in China. Consequently, China is becoming the largest seafarer supplier, recognized as having great potential to crew the world's fleets. Until 2013, geographic advantage and stable seafarer supply swayed shipping companies in Korea to prefer recruiting seafarers from China (Zhang and Zhao, 2015). However, increasing labor costs in China and seafarers' difficulty with the English language forced shipping companies in Korea to seek out more suitable countries for seafarer supply.

5. Conclusion

Working on board a ship as a seafarer is one of the most dangerous careers in the world (Othman, Fadzil and Abdul Rahman, 2015), and young people in developed countries do not desire to be seafarers. Since 1980, seafarer recruitment of shipping companies in OECD countries began to be replaced by those from developing countries in order to meet seafarer supply steadily and pay lower wages to minimize the cost of operations (Tsamourgelis, 2009; Lobrigo and Pawlik, 2015). This study aims to make a decision about a dedicated foreign seafarer supply country for stable seafarer recruitment for Korean Flag vessels.

Several important findings have emerged from the research presented, and these have both theoretical and managerial implications. For academicians, the established structure of appraisal factors for the choice of a foreign seafarer supply country can be viewed as a theoretical foundation for assessing seafarer supply countries. Two managerial implications are also evident for policy makers and field managers: (1) the assessment of factors and results show the importance of appraisal factors, which provide an indicator for decision makers regarding the features that should be considered to be key-point investigative factors, and (2) the assessment of alternatives shows that the Philippines should be chosen as the dedicated foreign seafarer supply country for Korean Flag vessels. The advantages and disadvantages of all five alternative countries are analyzed, and improvement solutions are suggested to enhance their competitiveness.

Although many significant factors have been adopted for modeling, there may be other factors that could influence the selection of a seafarer supply country. More variables should be researched to develop a new model, and these variables should be adjusted to estimate the new effects. Furthermore, ship types can also be a focus in research, to investigate the recruitment behaviours and preferences of decision makers.

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