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.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in The Netherlands only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.