The Netherlands

Dutch Management Style

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.


This country-specific business culture profile was written by Keith Warburton who is the founder of the cultural awareness training consultancy Global Business Culture

Global Business culture is a leading training provider in the fields of cross-cultural communication and global virtual team working.  We provide training to global corporations in live classroom-based formats, through webinars and also through our cultural awareness digital learning hub, Global Business Compass.

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.

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