In such complex industries as the petroleum industry, the effect and quality of SHE management will to an increasing extent be dependant upon the interaction between many different actors from different cultures and organisations. Processes of cross-cultural learning will thus be of crucial importance for what one can achieve. It is argued in this article that an actor-network theoretical approach could contribute with revealing findings in this area, and bring a deeper understanding of the complexities and relations between culture and learning. Individuals and organisations should be seen as constituted within heterogeneous networks in which knowing and learning not are limited by artificial boundaries, such as ‘departments’, ‘organisations’ or even ‘communities of practice’.
The paper discusses and critiques some aspects of safety culture in the petroleum industry as it is described and theorized in the literature. It is further drawing upon central perspectives of actornetwork theory and organizational learning theory to suggest an understanding of safety culture development as ‘network learning’. The article concludes with identifying some areas for future research.