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Factors affecting E-HRM practices in Greek shipping management companies: the role of organizational culture, cultural intelligence, and innovation


HRM is forced to adapt and reinvent its practices towards more innovative and creative frameworks and models, due to the impetus technological developments in the modern business environment. The same applies to the elements of the organizational culture and corporate structure, which are decisive for the success of such initiatives. To undergo the shift to digital transformation, there is a need for human resource development professionals to invest in advanced competencies and capabilities. The scope of this paper is to examine the concept of digital innovation and HRM digitalization in the shipping industry and their relationship with corporate culture, intelligence, and leadership. Data were collected via a survey conducted in Greek shipping companies, and personal interviews with maritime professionals. Findings show that organizational culture and cultural intelligence are significant factors for digital innovation. Digital culture and digital leadership are proving to be important components in achieving this, whereas organizational cultural intelligence has a major impact on e-HRM. The present research contributes at both academic and policy level. In the former case is assists in bridging the gap in the maritime literature by examining digital innovation and e-HRM practices in the shipping industry along with the required skills for their development or enhancement. In the latter case the paper assists in the documentation of challenges maritime companies face in relation to digitalization practices and how policy makers can assist in their adoption.


Going through an era characterized by intense digitization due to technological changes, digital transformation is present in most industries. Its applications affect every aspect of organizations i.e., processes and resources. As such shipping could not remain unaffected (UNCTAD, 2022).

The evolution of digital technologies is supported by many advantages, such as improved information sharing, decision-making, delivery times, price awareness, communication, and customer satisfaction (Özkanlisoy and Akkartal 2021; Nikmehr et al. 2021). Digital technologies refer to Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, 3D Printing, Automation, Virtual Reality, Big Data (Nikmehr et al. 2021; Garcia-Arroyo and Osca 2019). Digitalization requires changes that are based on technological advancement and have an impact on business strategies (Lipsmeier et al. 2020). Digital innovation is the first step for organizations to be digitalized. Digital innovation, besides the development of new products or services, refers to the exploitation of the best available possible capabilities using new technologies or digital tools (Looy 2021; Fichman et al. 2014).

An essential factor for disseminating the importance and the advantages of digital tools is organizational culture. Schein (1996) defines organizational culture as “general pattern of mindsets, beliefs, and values that members of the organization share in common, and which shape the behaviors, practices, and other artifacts of the organization, which are easily observable”. It is the culture of the organization that sets and creates the general mindset of its personnel, thus, creating the environment to adopt and embrace changes, such as technological. To that end, digital culture and leadership can be assisting factors.

Another influential factor is cultural intelligence, which is defined as “a capability, which helps individuals to function effectively in culturally diverse environments” (Earley 2002). Studies have shown the positive and significant relationship between cultural intelligence and digital innovation (Yuwono 2021; Elenkov and Manev 2009). Organizations operating in the globalized and multicultural environment, such as shipping companies, need to develop capabilities to cope with culturally diversified personnel. This can be achieved through the development of cultural intelligence, which among other is the exchange, understanding and sharing of different views and knowledge. It has been documented that organizations and people with high cultural intelligence tend to be more innovative (Li et al. 2021; Ratasuk and Charoensukmongkol 2020; Fang et al. 2018).

The aim of the paper is to examine the factors affecting E-HRM practices in Greek Shipping Management Companies, focusing on the role of Organizational Culture, Cultural Intelligence, and Digital Innovation. Greek shipping companies have been selected as the population for the primary research and the testing of hypotheses. Focus of the research on a single national market might raise doubts over the generalizability of the findings, however, there are several factors that lead to the opposite direction. Shipping is a paradigm of global business (Harlaftis and Theotokas 2020), the most global of all industries (Tenold 2019). Greek-owned shipping companies are the leading power in this global business for the recent five decades, with an unprecedented rate of growth. The fleet operated by more than 560 companies (Naftika Chronika 2023) active in international freight markets, with a wide network of offices globally, consists of almost 5.000 ships with a dead weight tonnage of 393 million tons (UNCTAD 2023).

The rest of the paper is structured as follows. Section"Literature review and theoretical background" provides the theoretical background via a literature review on digital related works in the maritime industry which have led to the research hypothesis formation. The methodology section follows where the adopted process for collecting, classifying, and analyzing the data is presented. Finally, section "Results" provides the conclusions and highlights the contributions of the study and suggestions for future research.

Literature review and theoretical background

Research on digitalization and digital innovation in maritime industry is considered as immature but of growing interest (Jian et al. 2022; Nikitakos and Lambrou 2007; Jenssen and Randøy 2002; Jenssen and Randøy 2006). Among the most recent studies is that of Emad and Ghosh (2023) reporting that the integration of skills such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, troubleshooting and the understanding of integrated systems will provide seafarers with an understanding of the underpinning technologies used by the systems and machinery they operate, enabling them to troubleshoot when needed. Such training will increase the efficiency in addressing system failures since no third party will need to be deployed on board to fix them, as the seafarers themselves will have such competencies.

Human resource development (HRD) is critical in the maritime industry in ensuring that the workforce is equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to operate effectively and safely in a complex and continuously changing environment (Autsadee et al. 2023). Gena et al., (2020) have also focused on the HR practices in the maritime industry showcasing that they improve the performance and competitiveness of the maritime sector. According to Hansen et al. (2020), effective HRD can improve shipping safety and efficiency while also increasing customer satisfaction and competitiveness, while Divine Caesar et al. (2021) states that HRD programs address industrial skill gaps and shortages, ensuring that the workforce is properly trained and equipped to meet industry requirements. However, technological advancements and changing regulatory frameworks require businesses to adapt and upskill their workforce continuously via adopting sustainable practices (Rony et al. 2023). HRM practices can assist in the transition of operations to sustainability. According to Sumane et al. (2018) maritime companies can work towards their employees obtaining the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out sustainable practices via training and development programs. Along the same lines, Fawehinmi et al. (2020) states that sustainability focused HRM can enhance the success of maritime firms via improving environmental performance, reputation, and competitiveness.

In addition to sustainability, the increasing importance on safety and security are two factors that have always challenged HRM practices. The maritime industry has always been subject to risks related to accidents, piracy, terrorism, and cyber threats thus, making HRM practices key in assisting maritime firms in improving their performance against such risks (Autsadee et al. 2023). Digital innovation and its relationship with the factors of organizational culture, cultural intelligence, digital culture and leadership, with focus on Human Resource Management and more specifically e-HRM has been explored in the literature (Margherita 2022; Alshibly and Alzubi 2022; Farhan et al. 2021; Trenerry, et al. 2021; Annarelli et al. 2021; Iqbal et al. 2019a; Chuang and Graham 2018). E-HRM is defined as the application of information technology in performing HR activities (Strohmeier 2007). Bondarouk and Ruël, (2009) expand the definition and describe e-HRM as an umbrella term that “covers all possible integration mechanisms and contents between HRM and Information Technologies aiming at creating value within and across organizations”, while along the same lines, Strohmeier (2020) considers the term a concept, which incorporates strategic alignment of digital technologies in the HRM.

Organizational culture, digital culture and digital innovation

Organizational culture is defined as the way in which a company is organized and is based on shared perceptions, beliefs and values which are reflected in the behavior and attitude of personnel (Schein 2010). It is the most principal factor that dictates how a company operates based on these fundamental characteristics. There are different types of cultures an organization may develop, but that does not mean that a company can’t be characterized by more than one type. The most commonly and widely used types are group, which focuses on flexibility and change, hierarchical, having a stricter orientation towards stability, control, order and rules, developmental, supporting change, adaptability, and risk-taking, and rational, emphasizing on competitiveness, and productivity (Pantouvakis and Syntychaki 2021; Oh and Han 2018; Shin and Shin 2022; Tran 2020; Nazaria et al. 2017; Willar et al., 2016).

Organizational culture is the way a company thinks and acts to achieve its goals. Leadership can be a valuable tool to that end (Winston and Patterson 2006). Research in the field of organizational culture and leadership has supported a strong interrelationship between them (Belias and Koustelios 2014; Erkutlu 2012; Schein 1996). Thus, any change, let alone changes related to technology, requires an environment that favors innovation so that it can be implemented. Therefore, the development of a digital culture and leadership is becoming an important aspect of companies. Digital culture is defined as the shared beliefs, understanding, and set of values of an organization, and its personnel, of the business activities in a digital domain (Zhen et al. 2021), while digital leadership focuses on innovation and is a team-oriented, cooperative approach, where leaders’ mindset and competencies to develop and use new technologies are fundamental characteristics (Oberer and Erkollar 2018).

Digital innovation is defined as a product, process, or business model which can be new or can be improved using technological tools (Looy 2021; Fichman et al. 2014). Digital Innovation is part of the digital transformation that a company wants to achieve. However, for its implementation, companies need to develop different strategies and create internal structures that will facilitate the transition (Looy 2021; Fernandez-Vidal et al. 2022).

Organizational culture is linked and influences many aspects of companies, effectiveness, strategy, behavior, communication, and decision-making (Xi et al. 2021; Gabel-Shemueli et al. 2019; Progoulaki and Theotokas 2010; Bravo et al. 2016). Studies have shown that organizational culture plays a crucial role in the digital transformation process of a company (Pradana et al. 2022; Looy 2021; Kane et al. 2015). Studies on digital culture support that it is a significant factor for digital innovation (Muller et al., 2019; Zhen et al. 2021; Snowball et al. 2022). In the shipping industry studies on organizational culture and digital transformation are in its infancy. A study by Shin and Shin (2022) showed that the most effective types of organizational culture which aid the development and usage of new technologies are developmental and rational. In the study by Fernandez-Vital et al. (2022) on European oil and gas companies concluded that companies willing to enter the digital transformation era should develop or enhance their strategies and suggest corporate structure improvements, paving the way for further exploration of the role of corporate culture on the process of digital transformation.

Based on the above the following hypotheses are formulated:


Organizational culture of shipping companies affects digital innovation.


Digital culture and leadership of shipping companies influences digital innovation.

Cultural intelligence and digital innovation

Companies operating in a constantly changing environment need continuous development and enhancement of their competencies and skills to remain competitive. In the literature personnel is presented as an essential factor for any organization to operate effectively and efficiently. Considering the fast-technological changes of the business environment, human resource management constantly adapts and reinvents its practices via being more innovative and creative (Wongsansukcharoen and Thaweepaiboonwong 2023; Azizi et al. 2021; Cooke et al. 2021).

Organizational cultural Intelligence has emerged due to changes in the context of the global workforce (Crowne 2008). Organizational cultural intelligence (OCQ) can be defined as “an organization’s capability to function effectively in culturally diverse environments” (Lima et al. 2016). It is linked to many aspects of firms’ operation and performance, such as organizational culture, HRM practices-selection and recruitment, and decision-making, as it refers to the way firms can operate in a changing environment (Livermore et al. 2022). Furthermore, cultural intelligence is considered a useful tool for companies to develop an appropriate strategy to achieve organizational goals (Remhof et al. 2013). This presupposes the development and optimization of new and existing skills.

The fundamentals of cultural intelligence lie in adaptation and change. Rüth and Netzer (2020) showed that cultural intelligence is a decisive factor for the enhancement of digital leadership, which supports digital innovation. Moreover, it has been supported that cultural intelligence plays a significant role in decision-making in the shipping industry (Pantouvakis and Syntychaki 2021).

Based on the above the following hypothesis is formulated:


Shipping companies’ Organizational cultural Intelligence influences digital innovation.

Organizational culture, cultural intelligence and e-HRM

Digital technologies are developing at a different pace in different industries (Strohmeier 2020). Human resources need to take into serious consideration the new technological developments. To undergo the shift to digital transformation, there is a need for human resource development professionals to invest in advanced competencies and capabilities (Chuang and Graham 2018). Although different forms of digital technologies, such as HR analytics and e-HRM practices exist, for the improvement of organizations’ strategic role and decision-making, studies exploring them are in their infancy (Trenerry, et al. 2021; Annarelli et al. 2021). With the use of e-HRM, HR professionals are able to work more strategically and efficiently since technology applications enable via web-based channels to monitor and proceed to the required adjustments for more efficient and effective HR management (De Alwis et al. 2022). In addition, the level of implementation of E-HRM reduces the demand for HR specialists since the use of technology minimizes human intervention (Lengnick-Hall and Moritz 2003).

Studies on different industries have examined the relationships between human resource management and digital developments (Radonjić et al., 2022; Ogbeidu et al., 2021; Eller et al., 2020). The human element is crucial for shipping companies and operations (Theotokas and Progoulaki 2007) and due to the vast technological changes should be redefined (Mallam et al. 2020). Several studies in the maritime field examine the human element in the digitalized environment and the required skills introducing by the e-HRM concept (Baykal 2022; Saha 2023; Mallam et al. 2020; Jo and D’agostini (2020); Jo et al. 2020). However, Tijan et al. (2021) suggest further empirical analysis is needed to investigate the relationship of HRM on digital transformation in the shipping sector with the factors of organizational culture and cultural intelligence.

Based on the above the following hypothesis are formulated:


Shipping Companies’ Organizational Culture impacts e-HRM


Shipping Companies’ Organizational Cultural Intelligence influences e-HRM

In summary, the above hypotheses aim at examining the degree Digital Innovation is influenced by Organizational Culture (H1), Digital culture and Leadership (H2) and Organizational Cultural Intelligence (H3) and the degree e-HRM is impacted by Organizational Culture (H4) and Organizational Cultural Intelligence (H5).

Research methodology

Measurement instruments

The purpose of this work is to examine if e-HRM practices as expressed in the literature are related and explained from factors such as organizational culture, organizational cultural intelligence, digital culture and leadership and digital innovation.

The measurement instruments used for this study appear in many studies in the service and transportation sectors. Table 1 provides the summary of the constructs and suggested measurement instruments.

Table 1 Constructs

Constructs have been evaluated on a 7-point Likert scale, with 1 implying strongly disagree and 7 implying strongly agree. Respondents were required to indicate the extent of their agreement or disagreement on different statements representing the constructs under examination.

As the examination of e-HRM is in the initial stages its measurement methods differ. Most of the studies use mixed methods, with those having qualitative characteristics prevailing. Therefore, this study relied on instruments and methods on the literature (Baykal 2022; Jo et al. 2020; Margherita 2022; Alshibly and Alzubi 2022; Farhan et al. 2021; Trenerry et al. 2021; Annarelli et al. 2021; Iqbal et al. 2019a). For the present study the questionnaire suggested by Iqbal et al., (2019b) is used as a basis for analysis.

Organizational Culture (OC) and Organizational Cultural Intelligence (OCQ) have been measured based on the studies of Gambi et al. (2015), Lima et al. (2016), Shin and Shin (2022) and Pantouvakis and Syntychaki (2021). However, for the purpose of this study an additional refinement of the scale of OC was considered necessary. The items for measuring Digital Innovation (DI) are based on the studies of Bastidas et al., (2023) and Khin and Ho (2018). For Digital Culture and Leadership (DCL) the measurement presented by Martínez-Caro et al. (2020) are used. The reliability of the scales was satisfactory as seen in Table 2.

Table 2 Cronbach’s Alpha

Research design

The present work uses as sample Greek shipping management companies operating ocean-going vessels. They are selected from a population of 560 companies (Naftika Chronika 2023), managing a fleet of 4,936 ships equaling 393 million dead weight tons of capacity, representing 17,4% of the global fleet (UNCTAD 2023). As seen, both the main characteristics of the companies forming the sample, as well as the size of the population where they come from allow the external validity of this research along with the generalizability of the findings and their potential applications.

The data for this study were collected through the distribution of a self-administered questionnaire to senior managers of shipping management companies as the purpose was to examine constructs that affect the way several dimensions related to Human Resources Management interact and affect e-HRM. The reason for addressing senior managers is because they are considered representatives of their organizations and contribute to decision-making (Yamak et al. 2014). It was considered crucial to direct the questionnaire to those shipping companies operating both Human Resources and Crew departments, whose responsibility is the management of employees ashore and onboard respectively. While Crew departments exist in most shipping companies, Human Resources departments primarily appear in companies operating large fleets with large number of employees, as well as in companies, which regardless of the fleet size, adopt a more strategic approach to managing their human resources (Theotokas 2018). For the analysis of the companies according to their size, this study adopts the widely used methodology categorizing as large those companies operating more than 16 ships, medium those managing between six and 15 ships and small those companies operating up to five ships (Theotokas and Harlaftis 2009; Theotokas 2018; Naftika Chronika 2023). According to the latest data, the population is consisted of 89 (16%) large, 152 (27%) medium and 319 (57%) small shipping companies (Naftika Chronika 2023).

The questionnaire has been tested by professionals representing a broad spectrum of the maritime industry. Respondents were mainly from the human resource and crew departments. More specifically, human resource managers (30%), crew managers (23.33%), DPAs (3.33%), operations managers (3.33%) and others (30%). In terms of the profile of the companies participating 63% are large, 33% are medium and the rest are small. In addition, the sample reveals that 26.7% of the companies employ onshore more than 200 people, 16.7% employ between 101 and 200 employees, 6.7% employ between 81 and 100, 20% employ between 21 and40, another 20% employ between 41 and 80, while 10% of them employ up to 20 employees.


Exploratory Factor Analysis was conducted using the maximum likelihood method of extraction-principal component analysis, with the oblique rotation method being varimax. The reasoning for this is the aim to identify the factorial structure of the constructs (Hair et al. 2010). The results from this analysis are presented in Tables 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 in Appendix 1.

As presented in Table 3 all constructs reported an AVE above the 0.50 threshold supporting the convergent validity of their latent constructs while CR values are above 0.70 denoting good reliability (Cheung et al., 2023). Results indicate that e-HRM is explained by 3 factors, namely data analysis (5 items), productivity (3 items) and HR quality (3 items). Organizational Culture is composed of two factors, namely group culture (5 items) and hierarchical culture (2 items). Organizational Culture Intelligence is conceived by four factors, namely, training (6 items), leadership (4 items), adaptability (2 items), and inclusion (2 items). Digital Culture and Leadership is composed of two factors, digital culture (6 items) and leadership (3 items), while Digital Innovation is represented by digital innovation only composed of 3 items.

Table 3 Convergent validity and reliability

The mean scores for the items of the constructs under examination show the following:

  1. 1.

    Regarding organizational culture the hierarchical factor items “formalized procedures generally govern what people do” and “objectives and targets are clearly defined” have mean scores 5.43 (SD = 0.935) and 5.53 (SD = 1,167) respectively.

  2. 2.

    Group culture factor items “development of human resources and concern about employees are highly valued” and “our employees are encouraged to work as a team, take decisions, exchange ideas opinions, ideas and experiences with each other and their supervisors” report mean scores of 6.10 (SD = 0.923) and 6.03 (SD = 0.928) respectively. These results suggest that respondents perceive that their organization pursues unity and engagement.

  3. 3.

    In respect to organizational cultural intelligence, shipping companies’ representatives’ score high on leadership (i.e. “Top Management—onboard and ashore—knows relevant cultural values and religious beliefs” M = 5.57, SD = 1.406) and inclusion (i.e. “Top Management—onboard and ashore—has had extensive international experience”, M = 5.97, SD = 0.928) while the responses on training appear to be neutral. Similar appears to be the case for e-HRM responses as well. The mean score for each item is presented in Table 18 in Appendix 2.

To investigate the relationships between the constructs under examination regression analysis was used where the impact on digital innovation is examined against organizational culture and organizational cultural intelligence (Table 4).

Table 4 Regression analysis organizational culture, cultural intelligence—digital innovation

Results suggest that digital innovation is affected by organizational culture significantly with b = 658 (sig. 001) and Adj R2 = 0.413. This can be interpreted by the way shipping companies are structured. It appears that the beliefs and values prevailing in the organization are aligned with the way operations are handled, implying willingness to adopt new systems, especially digital tools, which will change standard procedures. Another important factor interpreting the perception and usage of such technologies is the way shipping companies perceive changes and are willing to adopt them in their day-to-day operations. That is seen by the influence of organizational cultural intelligence on digital innovation with b = 533 (sig. 002) and Adj R2 = 0.258.

To further investigate the types of organizational culture and organizational cultural intelligence, which mostly influence digital innovation a further regression analysis has been conducted (Tables 5 and 6). As seen in Table 6, group culture has a significant impact on digital innovation with b = 592 (sig 0.001) and Adj R2 = 0.413. These results support the fundamentals of a group culture that focuses on flexibility and change and is based on participation and teamwork. These characteristics can be considered as drivers of digital innovation. Contrary to this, shipping companies with more strict and formalized procedures cannot pave the way for digital transformation observing low b values (b = 0.175).

Table 5 Regression analysis organizational culture types—digital innovation
Table 6 Regression analysis organizational culture intelligence—digital innovation

Examining the organizational cultural intelligence dimensions, adaptability and inclusion appear to have a significant influence on digital innovation b = 320 (sig 0.001), b = 0.673 (sig 0.038) respectfully, and an Adj R2 = 0.361 (sig 0.001), while training and leadership hardly appear to be of importance (Table 6). Organizations need to be adaptive to their environment, even more in the new digital era to be competitive. In addition, the concept of inclusion is also important as companies need to incorporate new tools and processes into their structures when innovative. Based on these results Hypothesis 1 (H1: Organizational culture of shipping companies has an impact on digital innovation) and Hypothesis 3 (H3: Shipping companies’ Organizational cultural Intelligence influences digital innovation) are confirmed.

To investigate the factors affecting Digital Culture and Leadership a regression was used as presented in Table 7. The analysis has been based on the factors as these appeared from the EFA analysis. As such, Digital culture and Digital Leadership appear to explain Digital Culture and Leadership. As presented, organizational culture significantly affects digital culture and leadership with group culture having a bigger effect (b = 0.582/b = 0.733) compared to hierarchical culture (b = 0.67/b = 0.099) on both Digital Culture and Leadership factors. Digital transformation requires that processes, behaviors and attitudes are aligned with digital transition.

Table 7 Regression analysis organizational culture types—digital culture and leadership

The relation of digital culture and leadership on digital innovation is further exploited and presented in Table 8. As observed digital culture and leadership significantly influence digital innovation with a b = 756 (sig 0.001) and Adj R2 = 0.556. Companies having in place processes to analyze information and communicate among employees, means that they have developed a digital culture which facilitates digital innovation. Furthermore, leadership styles of shipping companies play a key role in the adoption of change.

Table 8 Regression analysis digital culture and leadership—digital innovation

As seen in Table 9, digital leadership plays significant role (b = 0.608), since it is based on people’s perception who aim at adding value to organizations and are distinguished by their competencies, knowledge, creativity, and collaboration. Based on these Hypothesis 2 (H2: Digital culture and leadership of shipping companies influences digital innovation) is confirmed.

Table 9 Regression analysis Digital Culture and Leadership dimensions—digital innovation

Regression analysis was employed to investigate the relationship between e-HRM and organizational culture and organizational cultural intelligence. Surprisingly, organizational culture hardly has any significant effect on e-HRM, while organizational cultural intelligence has a significant positive influence (Table 10). Based on these Hypothesis 4 (H4: Shipping Companies’ Organizational Culture impacts e-HRM) is rejected, while Hypothesis 5 (H5: Shipping Companies’ Organizational Cultural Intelligence influences e-HRM) is confirmed.

Table 10 Regression analysis between e-HRM and organizational culture and organizational cultural intelligence

To explore further the factors of cultural intelligence that have influence on e-HRM additional tests were performed and are presented in Table 11. Results show that the only factor significantly affecting e-HRM is training. This outcome can be well understood as the process of digitalization and the application of new tools require employees to be well trained to operate properly and efficiently.

Table 11 Regression analysis organizational cultural intelligence dimensions—e-HRM

It is worth taking into consideration the fact that people from diverse cultures perceive changes and understand new operational systems differently. Especially for people working onboard vessels, it is vital for a common understandable training system to exist. These results are further confirmed examining the relationship of the Organizational Cultural Intelligence factors to e-HRM (Table 12). As seen training is the prevailing factor once again (b = 0.569/b = 0.417/b = 0.532).

Table 12 Regression analysis organizational cultural intelligence types—e-HRM dimensions

Although overall results do not show a strong relationship between e-HRM and organizational culture, it is noteworthy that digital innovation is highly influenced by organizational culture and cultural intelligence. It is the enhancement of digital technologies thus, digital innovation that contributes to the development of digital human resource management.


The purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of digital innovation and HRM digitalization in the shipping industry and their relationship with corporate culture, intelligence, and leadership. Data has been collected via a survey conducted in Greek shipping companies, and personal interviews with maritime professionals.

Findings on organizational culture, show that most companies share characteristics from several types. Hierarchical type focuses on stability and control, group emphasizes on participation and teamwork, rational highlights achievements and productivity and developmental describes risk-taking and change. Innovative technologies and digitalized procedures require changes in the way companies operate both in terms of human resources and general procedures. Group culture characterizes companies that are prompt and flexible to change and adapt to external influences. Examining Hypothesis 1 findings show that organizational culture has a significant impact on digital innovation with group culture affecting innovative initiatives most.

In relation to Hypothesis 2 on the role of digital culture and leadership on digital innovation in shipping companies’ regression analysis results confirm that both play an important role confirming the specific hypothesis. This is attributed to the fact that since employees aim at adding value to organizations and are distinguished by their competencies, knowledge, creativity, and collaboration.

In terms of the companies’ ability to adapt to multicultural environments results shows that most shipping companies are considerably adaptable as employees ashore and onboard have international working experience and interact with people and companies around the world. While examining Hypothesis 3 on the role of organizational cultural intelligence the dimension of training is of the outmost importance for digitalized processes. This was further indicated on the examination between the dimensions of organizational cultural intelligence and e-HRM (Hypothesis 5).

In relation to Hypothesis 4 and Hypothesis 5, with the former examining the impact of organizational culture on e-HRM and the latter the impact of organizational culture intelligence on e-HRM, regression analysis results show that organizational culture has almost no significant effect on e-HRM, while organizational cultural intelligence significantly influences e-HRM. Furthermore, results show that companies lean towards the development and implementation of innovative technological tools. This is apparent based on the results on the creation of market offerings, business processes or models which result from the use of digital technology. Considering the existence of digital tools for Human Resource Management, participants agreed primarily on the benefits emerging from service and work quality, but these tools are not fully exploited by HRM practices such as Training, Appraisal, Performance, Recruitment and Selection.

The results of this study provide significant insights to managers, which can assist their attitude towards digitalization. Among these insights is the fact that although the shipping sector is one of the most adaptable in terms of the general commercial aspect, when it comes to changes in the core of the operational aspect ashore and onboard it appears to be lagging. Based on the results, leadership involvement enhances training in shipping management companies and is key in achieving higher levels of digital innovation, which can lead to e-HRM and digital HRM practices.

Lately the debate on digitalization monopolizes the interest in shipping companies and their partners, with questions on the required skills, competencies, and qualifications towards that end to be the focal point. However, companies do not pay much attention to lead, train and review and provide tools to their employees ashore and onboard. Nevertheless, steps have been taken towards supporting diversity via the integration of people with different genders, and cultures. Meanwhile, the sharing of information regarding technological developments within the company and the development of skills among employees is low. This is an indicator that work still needs to be done towards the understanding and familiarization of shipping management companies with innovative technologies, so that confidence in the advantages and benefits of such systems is built adding value to employees and to the companies as well.

The present research can be furthered by examining digitalization in shipping in non-Greek companies to investigate their perception on the issue. In addition, the constructs under examination can be examined in relation to specific organizational outcomes along with the examination of soft skills required for the implementation of digital technologies and e-HRM.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.



Artificial intelligence


Average variance extracted


Composite reliability


Digital culture and leadership


Digital innovation


Explanatory factor analysis


Electronic–human resource


Internet of things


Human Resource Management


Organizational culture


Organizational cultural intelligence


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The research project was supported by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (H.F.R.I.) under the “1st Call for H.F.R.I. Research Projects to support Faculty Members & Researchers and the Procurement of High-and the procurement of high-cost research equipment grant” (Project Number: 3701). This work has been partly supported by the University of Piraeus Research Center.


The research project was supported by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (H.F.R.I.) under the “1st Call for H.F.R.I. Research Projects to support Faculty Members & Researchers and the Procurement of High-and the procurement of high-cost research equipment grant” (Project Number: 3701).

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IT conceptualized the problem under investigation, structured the key model variables and proofread the document. IL has been evolved in the write up and the proof reading of the document along with the validation of the results and conclusions. ΑS developed the questionnaire design conducted the data analysis and drafted the first version of the paper. JP assist in the questionnaire design and collection of data. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ioannis N. Lagoudis.

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Appendix 1: Exploratory factor analysis results

See Tables 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17.

Table 13 Factor loadings per item (e-HRM)
Table 14 Factor loadings per item (organizational culture)
Table 15 Factor loadings per item (organizational cultural intelligence)
Table 16 Factor loadings per item (digital culture and leadership)
Table 17 Factor loadings per item (digital innovation)

Appendix 2: Mean scores

See Table 18.

Table 18 Mean scores

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Theotokas, I.N., Lagoudis, I.N., Syntychaki, A. et al. Factors affecting E-HRM practices in Greek shipping management companies: the role of organizational culture, cultural intelligence, and innovation. J. shipp. trd. 9, 13 (2024).

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