Outsiders can often find meetings in the Netherlands somewhat frustrating and certainly lengthy.

Meetings in the Netherlands are forums for debating issues in a full and frank manner where everybody is expected to contribute and everybody expects to be listened to. The purpose of the meeting is to move towards a commonly agreed approach which can then be implemented. However, reaching this common viewpoint can be a time-consuming business, needing a great deal of input from a number of differing sources.

The positive aspect of this consensual approach to meetings is that, at the end, real buy-in has been achieved and therefore implementation can be really swift.

The Dutch can have some antipathy towards those that they feel arrive at the meeting having lobbied prior to the meeting in order to reach a group position to expound in the meeting. This pre-meeting lobbying, endemic in many cultures, can be seen as devious and underhand and lead to accusations of hidden agendas and inflexibility.

Despite the often free-wheeling nature of discussions in Dutch meetings, protocols are often observed with agendas generally produced and respected and each person waiting for their turn to speak rather than interrupting whoever has the floor.

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

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 the Netherlands. 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 the Netherlands 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
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips