Keeping up with the Dutch business culture | Undutchables

Keeping up with the Dutch business culture

Categorie: Cultural

Each country has its own culture, so it should not come as a surprise that the business culture in one country can greatly differ from the one in another. The Netherlands has their own particular way of doing business and if you’ve spoken to a true Dutchie it should come without saying that this way of business is quite direct.

The Dutch are known to be direct and honest in nature, especially when doing business. They prefer not to waste time when it comes to sharing opinions and rather choose to express themselves truthfully. This may come as a shock to most newcomers not used to such directness in the work environment. Dutch directness might have something to do with the informal setting of the Dutch business culture. Compared to other countries, the Dutch organizational structure is often very flat. Higher-ups work closely with lower levels on a daily basis, with everyone referring to one another by their first name. Contrary to what you might think, this is very normal, and it is definitely not a sign of disrespect. It shows how open and accepting the Dutch business culture is, with little mind set on rank.

One aspect of business that the Dutch love/worship is their meetings. They have meetings with big groups, smaller groups, informal meetings, a few more formal meetings (but still with the perfect dose of informality), meetings in-house, over coffee meetings at a cafe or restaurant, meetings to schedule other meetings, you name it, they have a meeting for it! These meetings are often fixed to times and agendas, so the importance of being on time is often stressed. Which brings us to another concept the Dutch value in business; The concept of time. Here in The Netherlands you are expected to be on time. If at any moment you can not make the agreed upon time, you are expected to call to notify the person you are meeting with that you will be running late. Don’t make it a usual occurrence, as this will reflect negatively on you and you might be seen as unreliable.

Other than these very common business traits, Dutch lunch also makes it to the list of ‘Dutch business culture’ habits. Breaks are often 30 minutes or less and lunch is, more often than not, consumed seated behind the desk (or in the cafeteria). Despite this fact, some companies are moving towards the idea of a more unified, social lunch setting, where everyone has lunch together. That means socializing with your colleagues and getting to know more Dutch (business) costumes.

Are there any other Dutch business habits that you’ve come across during your stay in the Netherlands? We are curious to know!


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