It has been said that the Belgians find it easier to work in a multi-cultural team rather than in a team made up solely of a mix of Walloons and Flemings. Although this point is perhaps debatable, it is certainly true that intra-Belgium tensions are rarely very far below the surface in such situations.

This inherent tension — which runs through Belgian society — means that such devices as compromise, diplomacy and conflict avoidance are pre-requisites in the team environment. Anybody who attempts to rock the boat risks affecting the uneasy Belgian truce which has been many years in the making.

Therefore, when working with a Belgium team it is important to recognise and, wherever possible, foster the development of this all-important group harmony. Try to avoid situations designed to stimulate debate through confrontation. If conflict seems likely, try to diffuse the situation – defer the problem until later or take it off-line.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Belgium

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Belgium. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.

With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Belgium and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.

Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips