Successful Entertaining in Netherlands

Business breakfasts are not very common in the Netherlands, so you are much more likely to be invited to a lunch or dinner.

Most business entertaining is done in restaurants and it is relatively unlikely that you would be invited to somebody’s home unless you know them very well.

Who pays? This can be somewhat complicated but basically, the Dutch will make it clear that you are their guest if they intend to pay the bill – otherwise expect to “go Dutch” and pay your fair share. People tend not to be embarrassed at splitting a bill.

Punctuality is important in the Netherlands so try to arrive on time. It is acceptable to discuss business matters during mealtimes and as at all other times to be open and frank about your own views — this approach gains you respect.

Dutch table etiquette is relatively formal. Everything seems to be eaten with a knife and fork and the eating utensils are used in the European fashion rather than in the North American way. This means that both knife and fork are used throughout the meal.

Although all bills will contain a service charge, it is customary to leave an additional tip of between 5% – 10%

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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If you are currently doing business in Europe it is likely that you will have had some contact with the Dutch. This is mainly due to the pre-eminence of Rotterdam as a port and its position as the gateway to the European Union. This fact reflects the Netherland’s history of one of the great trading nations of the world and also accounts for the fact that the Netherlands has more global, world-class companies than you might expect from a country with such a small population and geographic spread.

The Netherlands is international in its outlook – it always has been. Countries with small domestic markets need to look abroad almost as a matter of national survival and the Netherlands is a prime example of this. The Dutch want to trade – why not with you?

Given the Netherlands’ central position in European business life, it probably follows that you should consider doing business there and that doing business in the Netherlands might also help you to springboard into other European Union countries.

A word of caution though – just because the Netherlands has a long history of international business and the Dutch typically speak excellent English doesn’t mean you don’t need to develop a good understanding of local Dutch business culture. The Dutch can’t be all things to all men and when in Amsterdam you should maybe think about adapting to the local way of doing things. Dutch business culture is just as strong, distinct and all pervasive as in any other country and you are well-advised to do some research before you arrive in-country.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Dutch business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

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