It has been said that the Netherlands is the only country in which the manager is not the boss and this apparent egalitarian approach fits very well with Dutch company structures which have traditionally been amongst the flattest in Europe.

The idea of imposing a policy from afar with little or no consultation is not one that sits easily with Dutch thinking.

Therefore, the manager in the Netherlands will rarely take an authoritarian approach to the team, preferring to be seen as the colleague who has most influence rather than as the ultimate arbiter on all decisions. This does not mean that the boss is powerless or that the boss’ thoughts hold no sway. It is more that the influence and control are subtler than in some other countries. It may even appear to those from more hierarchical cultures that the boss is shown very little respect.

Communication is expected to be fairly open and transparent. Any unwillingness to share with colleagues could be seen as devious and underhand – charges to be avoided at all cost in the Netherlands. A boss expects input from all team members and must show equal respect for all ideas.

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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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