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Cross Cultural Management Guide - Netherlands


What will you Learn in this Guide?

In this guide, expatriate managers will gain an understanding of a number of key cross- cultural areas when working in the Netherlands:

  • Hierarchy
  • Leadership style
  • Time and scheduling 
  • Communication style and; 
  • Negotiation style 


Gain an Expert Understanding:

Once you've read this guide, ensure the success of your Netherlands business venture by: 

  • Requesting an in-depth Netherland’s Country Insight Report, authored by a country specialist and outlining detailed country and culture information.

  • Taking part in a two-hour live webinar,, customised to meet your unique needs, with one of our Netherlands country and culture training experts or;

Being a Manager in Netherlands

The business set up in Netherlands is egalitarian.

  • Cross cultural management is more likely to succeed if you understand the Dutch are very direct. They will tell you quite plainly what they think and they will expect the same in return.
  • In the Netherlands there is a sense that all people in the organization have an important role to play and all are valued for their input. Therefore in this culture, managers will lose no respect in consulting employees to gather background information and often to even share in the decision-making process.


The Role of a Manager

Cross cultural management is more effective when working in Netherlands when you understand that the most effective managers in the Netherlands, recognize and value the specialized knowledge that employees at all levels bring, and the most successful of these manager harnesses that wisdom and empowers those employees to participate and be a part of achievement of the business mission.

  • In the Netherlands, as in most egalitarian cultures, positions of authority are earned largely on the basis of individual achievement and people at all levels of the organization, while respecting authority are free to aspire to those positions.


Approach to Change

Netherlands’s intercultural tolerance and readiness for change is medium. The Netherlands are seen to have a medium tolerance for change and risk. It is important for innovations to have a track record or history noting the benefits if they are to be accepted and implemented.

  • The fear of exposure, and the potential of embarrassment that may accompany failure, brings about aversion to risk.
  • While in risk-tolerant environments, failure is perceived as a learning process, failure in the Netherlands causes a long-term loss of confidence by the individual as well as by others. Because of this attitude, intercultural sensitivity is going to be required, especially when conducting group meetings.


Approach to Time and Priorities

The Netherlands is a fluid time culture. While timescales and deadlines need to be set well in advance and reiterated carefully, it should be understood that these will be viewed as flexible.

  • Global and intercultural means that some managers may have a greater appreciation of the need to enforce timescales and as such, agreed deadlines are more likely to be met.


Decision Making

The structure of the company as well as the industry often drives the way managers interact with their subordinates.

  • High-tech and entrepreneurial companies tend to be less bureaucratic and involve more levels of employees in the discussion process, although the manager may make the ultimate decision.
  • Since this is an egalitarian country, both managers and subordinates are expected to work together harmoniously to achieve business success.
  • There is a legal obligation for companies with 50 or more employees to establish a work's council.
  • Employees are elected to sit on this council and the company directors are obligated to consult with the council on important matters that could influence the future of the company and its employees. Therefore, employees exert considerable influence over managerial decisions.


Boss or Team Player?

Intercultural adaptability will be easier when bearing in mind that groups collaborate well together as teams.

  • Members are generally chosen to participate based on tangible skills or the knowledge base they bring, and are equally welcome to contribute to any discussion that may arise.
  • The successful cross cultural manager will harness the talent of the group assembled, and develop any resulting synergies.


Communication and Negotiation Styles

Successful intercultural communication will take into account the direct methods of communication preferred by the Dutch.

  • The Dutch prefer to get down to business quickly and engage in relatively little small talk.
  • Communication is direct and to the point, and may seem blunt. Make sure your arguments are rational as opposed to emotional.
  • Decision-making is consensus driven. Anyone who might be affected by the decision is consulted, which greatly increases the time involved in reaching a final decision.
  • Avoid confrontational behavior or high-pressure tactics.
  • Once a decision is made, it will not be changed. Contracts are enforced strictly.

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