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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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