Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


Robert E. Levasseur


The shortage of qualified merchant marines in the United States requires State Maritime Academy (SMA) leaders to develop competitive retention strategies to retain merchant mariners aboard training vessels. The purpose of this single case study was to identify retention strategies that U.S. SMA leaders used to retain mariners aboard training ships. The conceptual framework of this study was Vroom's expectancy theory. The study participants consisted of 5 SMA leaders overseeing the mariners aboard a training vessel. Semistructured interviews and review of SMA documents pertaining to employment strategies provided the study data. The data analysis included collecting and coding data, and using the constant comparative method to identify the themes. Four themes related to successful retention strategies emerged from the data analysis: (a) the monetary value of employment and benefits must be comparable to what is available in the maritime industry, (b) professional development is necessary to maintain maritime industry credentials and improve employee performance within the organization, (c) recognition and understanding of the uniqueness of being a mariner as a profession is important to mariners, and (d) transparency and trust increase communication and improve retention. The findings of this study contribute to positive social change by providing best practices for SMA leaders to integrate retention strategies to improve employment satisfaction, enhance the training of mariners on U.S. waterways, and increase longevity of qualified mariners, which could create a healthy and positive work environment.

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