Humanities students advises Mærsk Line IT – University of Copenhagen

Humanities students advice Mærsk Line IT

Humanities students from the University of Copenhagen spent six months scrutinising and analysing Mærsk Line IT's internal communications in India and Denmark. The main focus was on addressing the cultural communication challenges that a global company like Mærsk faces every single day. The students recently held a workshop at Mærsk Line IT, where they presented their analyses and specific proposals for improvements to communications.

“The students’ analyses and conclusions are razor-sharp and go right to the core of the communication frustrations many employees of Mærsk Line IT experience – both in our Shared Service Centre in India and in Copenhagen. And precisely because our staff recognise themselves reflected in it, we will be able to initiate specific changes based on the students' work,” says Peter Skyttegaard, Head of IT Strategy and Workforce Governance for Mærsk Line.

“The academic approach that the students adopted is quite different from Mærsk's action-oriented culture in which we react quickly to problems and then adjust the solution if it isn’t working. But this project has shown us how valuable it is to spend time on in-depth analyses of things like internal communications.

18 of the 40 students involved in the project went on a study trip to Mumbai, India, in February 2013, where they collated data in the form of observations, interviews, focus groups and video recordings of video conferences and meetings. Analyses of the material were put to Mærsk Line IT at a workshop on 29 May.

Book knowledge meets reality

The encounter with the Mærsk corporate culture was instructive for the students who had to work hard to acquire data in India and Copenhagen and had to learn to navigate the complex global organisation that is Mærsk Line.

“Humanities students don’t know how to move containers from A to B. But they know a lot about communication, language and culture.”


Associate Professor Mie Femø,
University of Copenhagen

- The most important thing for us was to translate our academic knowledge and analyses into something tangible and useful for the staff at Mærsk. We just had to throw ourselves into it, which taught us invaluable lessons and gave us deeper insight into the complex problems being wrestled with in the private sector,” says Mathias Nick Andersen, who is studying Communications and IT at the University of Copenhagen.

Fellow student Thomas Refstrup Dünweber, who is studying Cognition & Communication, identified the many different humanities disciplines represented among the 40 students as a major advantage when it came to analysing Mærsk Line IT's day-to-day work:

“Companies consist of people who have to be able to interact effectively on a daily basis, and this is where we, as humanities students, have a great deal to offer. Our studies give us deep insight into and knowledge of “the human aspect” and we pay attention to things other people overlook. This makes our analyses and conclusions highly relevant and instantly recognisable to those who matter – the staff – and therefore to the organisation as a whole. Our team is also broadly representative of the humanities as a whole – from Danish to musicology – which allowed for an even more all-round and in-depth analysis.”