Below sea level – working and living with the Dutch

Why do the Dutch leave their curtains open at night?
Who is actually the boss here?
Why are the Dutch so blunt?
And what are the cultural differences between the Netherlands and other countries?

The Dutch have been doing business overseas for centuries. At the same time people from other countries have come to work and do business in the Netherlands. Ignorance of other cultures with which there is frequent contact can result in all kinds of blunders – both socially and in business. Knowledge of each other’s cultures – and awareness of one’s own – are essential requirements for avoiding such misunderstandings.

In Below sea level Saskia Maarse shows how contemporary Dutch culture is seen by other nationalities and cultures. In the process she provides a lively analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Dutch character. The Dutch stress, for instance, that ‘an appointment is an appointment’. And while this is very much appreciated by people from other cultures in the context of business – it is regarded as somewhat bizarre in private life. Why consult your diary to make an appointment with family members?

Saskia humorously describes the origins of some typically Dutch characteristics, as well as what we can learn from and about other cultures – in areas like communication, leadership and behaviour.

Below sea level is full of anecdotes from entrepreneurs and managers from a variety of countries. It offers background information and useful tips on how to bridge cultural differences and learn to avoid misunderstandings in business and social life.



Publication 24 April 2017