Netherlands Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022
Basic data
Capital Amsterdam
Population 17.62 million
Language The official language is Dutch, English is widely spoken
Religion No religion (54%), Catholic (20%), Protestant (15%)
State system constitutional monarchy
Head of State King Willem-Alexander
Head of government Mark Rutte
Currency name Euro (EUR)
Travel
Time shift 0 o’clock
Economy 2021
Nominal GDP (billion USD) 1,127.00
Economic growth (%) 4.8
Inflation (%) 2.8
Unemployment (%) 4.2

The Netherlands – sometimes incorrectly called the Netherlands or Holland – is one of the four countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which lies in northwestern Europe on the coast of the North Sea (the Kingdom of the Netherlands also includes three small island countries in the Caribbean – Aruba, Curaçao and Saint Martin). The Netherlands borders Germany to the east and Belgium to the south. Of the total area of ​​41,526 km², 18.41% is water. 17.6 million inhabitants live here and with a population density of 516 inhabitants per km², it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Almost half of these residents live in the Randstad conurbation, which consists of four large urban agglomerations – Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht. The official capital is Amsterdam, but most of the functions of the capital are performed by The Hague, which is the seat of the Dutch king, parliament and government. In addition to the Dutch, who make up the vast majority of the population, native Frisian and German minorities also live in the country, as well as immigrants from the current and former Dutch overseas territories – Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles and Indonesia. There are also relatively numerous communities of immigrants from Morocco and other Arab countries, from Turkey and many other Asian countries. The Dutch legislature (Staten-Generaal van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden) consists of a lower (literally Second: Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal) and an upper chamber (actually First: Eerste Kamer der Staten-Generaal), comparable to the Czech Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Netherlands is the 6th largest economy in the EU and at the same time a country with one of the highest levels of GDP per capita in the world. It is highly dependent on services and international trade, which make up about 70% or 160% of GDP. Czech companies do not face any specific problems in the Netherlands, and the country is a popular location for many companies, mainly due to the favorable business and tax environment as well as favorable investment protection agreements with most countries of the world. The credit rating of the country has been very high for a long time (AAA), the Netherlands regularly ranks high in the WEF Global Competitiveness Index (in the 2019 ranking, it finished in 4th place).

Culture of business dealings

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

The dealings of Dutch businessmen are matter-of-fact and direct. The Dutch usually have a very good knowledge of business and are excellent negotiators. It is necessary to prepare very carefully for the meeting and anticipate factual and detailed questions. The style of dealing is close to Anglo-Saxon. Contacts and networking play an important role in business relations in the Netherlands. The Dutch are interested in long-term business relationships and therefore they are also interested in the company they do business with and the country this company comes from. It is therefore necessary to pay attention not only to the presentation of your own product, but also to the presentation of the company and the country.

Addressing

Titles and functions are used sparingly (but without resorting to British or American levels of informality). With the exception of university professors, it is not customary to address individuals by their professional titles, unlike the practice in Germanic or some Nordic cultures. In general, it is common to address Dutch partners by their first name after the first meeting (if you have already received an email from your counterpart signed with their first name, you can start using the first name from the first contact). Exceptions may occur in formal settings and where younger and older generations meet.

Business meeting

Business negotiation is possible in the Netherlands basically all year round, but the less favorable time is the holiday period (July, August) and also the second part of December. It is advisable to report to the meeting between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. and then from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The lunch break is usually from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. The meeting must always be arranged in advance, the Dutch do not like unannounced visits and lateness. If you’re late, call (the Dutch are very punctual; although, given the frequent occurrence of traffic jams in the Netherlands, any apology pointing to this circumstance has a chance of being received with understanding). It is not uncommon for a meeting to be arranged two to three months in advance.

  • PaulSourcing: Tips and recommendations for doing business with Netherlands. Also includes country basic data and information for entering the its market.

Dress code: The Dutch prefer conservative clothing in the corporate world – a dark suit with a tie for men, a normal business suit for women. However, standards and styles vary from industry to industry. In the banking sector, more formal attire is the norm, while other sectors (especially IT) have a less strict dress code. If you are in doubt about dressing for a particular business event, it is advisable to dress more formally than the other way around. If you are unsure, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for clarification in advance.

Behavioral style: The Dutch value honesty, it is of the utmost importance to refrain from all forms of indirect communication or excessive assertiveness, which can appear insincere. Be polite but firm in your offers. Respecting time is important, business meetings usually follow a fixed agenda. Negotiations usually take place with the participation of the entire team, the presence of a senior manager is optional.

Gifts are not common in the Dutch business culture, gifts are not given or expected at the initial business meeting. Wait until you have established a relationship before giving any gifts. Small gifts are an easy choice, the Dutch do not like to feel obligated and do not expect to give or receive anything beyond the reward for services rendered.

If you are invited to privacy, it is always appropriate to give attention to the host – flowers, wine (especially if the host is a man), or sweets or small toys for the children.

Business Cards: All typical courtesies should be observed, do not offer business cards that are torn or dirty, treat your counterpart’s business card with care and respect. It is also important to remember the great Dutch emphasis on privacy; it is not advisable to call home numbers, even if they are listed on the business card.

Communication

The Dutch can cause misunderstandings when communicating with foreigners with their typically straightforward style. Communication is very direct, emotional and non-verbal communication is minimal compared to other countries. Although the Dutch value directness, they also value politeness. Especially in written communication, all formalities must be observed, e-mails should be brief, to the point and detailed. Always include a salutation and include your name, position and organization name in your signature. Refrain from familiarity, the Dutch are usually reserved in nature. Visit Aparentingblog for more information about Netherlands culture and traditions.

Knowledge of foreign languages ​​is one of the most widespread in the world in the Netherlands (despite, or precisely because of, it is advisable to show an interest in their own language when communicating with the Dutch). English is the predominant language of business negotiations, but many people in business circles also speak another foreign language. According to statistics, 90% of the population in NL speak at least one foreign language (mainly English), 70% two (most often German) and 20% three (most often French) or more.

Recommendation

When negotiating with such Dutch partners who do not have experience in doing business with the Czech Republic, it is appropriate to mention that the Czech Republic is traditionally an industrial country, with a technical tradition, qualified people and a developed infrastructure. A similar procedure must be followed in cases where a Czech company negotiates capital input from a foreign partner. The advantage is the perception of the geographical proximity of both countries (Schiphol Airport and Ruzyni are separated by just over 1 hour by flight, moving by car is possible within one day) and their approximately the same size.

Public Holidays

  • New Year: January 1
  • Good Friday: April, movable holiday
  • Easter Monday: April, movable holiday
  • King’s Day: April 27
  • Liberation Day: May 5
  • Ascension Day: May 13
  • Whit Monday: May, Movable Feast
  • 1st and 2nd Christmas Day: December 25 and 26

Netherlands Culture of Business