Understanding the Dutch polder model
Love it or hate it: Dutch culture is all about consensus. Whether we’re making a decision about what color to paint the office walls, all the way up to major socio-economic policies, we believe in discussion with as many relevant parties as possible. This is the background to our world-renowned policy making model, the polder model.
The most important form of polder model in a business context is the Social-Economic Council (Sociaal-Economische Raad, SER). The council brings together parties from trade-unions and employers’ organizations in order to reach agreements on issues such as shop opening times, working conditions etc. Although the council acts only as an advisor to the government, the agreements they make are then are highly influential to the government in their policy making procedure. This means, as an employer or an employee you can get your voice heard of you participate within an employers’ organization or trade union.
Employers’ organizations in the TopDutch region
(Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers)
The VNO-NCW is the major employers’ organization in the Netherlands. They also have a division especially for the needs of employers in the TopDutch region, which is called VNO-NCW Noord. They represent over 180,000 businesses in the Netherlands, which includes 80% of medium organizations and the majority of large organizations.
Small and medium-sized enterprises can choose to be represented by the employers’ organization MKB. Again, in the TopDutch region has a local division named the MKB-Noord. They have a framework of three spearheads; network, knowledge sharing and lobbying. MKB-Noord represents around 10,000 SMEs in the TopDutch region to increase cooperation between businesses and regional and national government.
The Care Innovation Forum (Zorg Innovatie Forum; ZIF) is an independent network organization bringing together healthcare providers, health insurers, healthcare interests, governments, housing corporations, companies, social organizations and knowledge institutions in the TopDutch region. They aim to increase cooperation between knowledge partners and companies, support through subsidies, support through expertise and manage/develop public policy.
Koninklijke Metaalunie is an employers’ organization representing SMEs in the metal industry and related sectors. They represent around 14,000 organizations across the whole of the Netherlands.
Based in the Water Hub in Leeuwarden, the Water Alliance brings together public and private companies, government and knowledge institutions across the whole of the Netherlands to innovate together in the field of water technology.
Chemport Europe is the Green Chemistry ecosystem in the TopDutch region. Industry, government and knowledge institutions collaborate with the shared ambition of ‘changing the nature of chemistry’: speeding up the sustainable and economic development of the chemistry industry in the region.
The Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture (Land en Tuinbouw Organisatie, LTO) is the employers’ organization for the Agriculture and Horticulture sectors. They also have a Northern operation for employers in the TopDutch region helping 25,000 members.
The FME is the Dutch employers’ organization for those active in the technology industry, including manufacturing, trade automation and maintenance in the metal, electronics, electrical engineering and plastics sectors. Their Northern side, FME Noord organizes regular meetings for managers and directors in the TopDutch region.
Healthy Ageing Business Cooperative
For TopDutch SMEs in the life science and medical technology sector, the Healthy Ageing Business Cooperative is a coalition that aims to develop solutions to meet shared challenges; including influencing public policy, sharing and jointly investing in facilities and joint training.
New Energy Coalition
The TopDutch region has historically been a major player in the energy sector, and is aiming to sustain this throughout the transition to sustainable energy production. They are supported in this through the New Energy Coalition, a knowledge and network organization that drives innovation and education by bringing together knowledge, policy and entrepreneurship. They have partners in corporate companies, knowledge institutes, government and social organizations.
Energy Valley Platform
For organizations active in the TopDutch energy industry, there is also the Energy Valley Platform, with the purpose of organizing a networking platform for entrepreneurs, knowledge institutions and government. They offer information about current energy developments, policy, financing and grant options, business development services and regular networking events. They also have a number of specialist projects to increase cooperation between national and international organizations.
Transport and Logistics Netherlands (TLN) is the entrepreneurs and employers’ network for members active in the logistics industry. Their Northern board, TLN Noord, offers aid for the needs of those specifically active in the TopDutch region.
TopDutch Logistics is a cooperative project for innovation in the logistics sector. Our provincial governments provide and facilitate capital for entrepreneurs to work together for the development of the sector. There are six key areas for acceleration; e-commerce, city distribution, rail development, waterways, the job market and shipping.
Groningen Seaports is the economic operator, developer and authority for the port of Delfzijl, Eemshaven and the adjoining industrial sites. They aim to develop business in the area through acquiring new businesses, observing market requirements and/or opportunities and ensuring safe and expeditious shipping traffic control.
National and regional governmental organizations
The NOM is the investment and development agency for the Northern Netherlands. For foreign organizations they offer support for the (re)location of business in the TopDutch region. They provide help with factors such as site location, partnerships, licencing and permitting, tax and policies, and labor. For local organizations, they also provide financing and business development systems.
Economic Board Northern Netherlands
The Economic Board Northern Netherlands is a cooperation of administration and innovation committees who work for the sustainable economic development of the TopDutch region. They work together with different regional government parties, industry, employers’ organizations and knowledge institutions.
The Northern Netherlands Alliance (Samenwerkingsverband Noord-Nederland, SNN), is a partnership between the three provinces in the TopDutch region; Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe, and the four biggest cities (Assen, Emmen, Groningen, Leeuwarden). They have several goals: Internally the coordination of collaboration between businesses, knowledge institutions and government within the TopDutch region, and externally being the united voice for the TopDutch region in The Hague and Brussels.
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel, KvK) officially registers companies and gives them advice and support. The main task of the Chamber of Commerce is to keep the Commercial Register.
Netherlands Enterprise Agency
The Netherlands Enterprise Agency is a governmental organization working underneath the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. They provide stimulation for sustainable, agricultural, innovative and international businesses by providing funding/ subsidies, networking and knowledge.
The Federation of Dutch Trade Unions (Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging, FNV), is the largest trade union in the Netherlands, and provides help for employees in all sectors on the topics of working conditions, decent income, equal opportunities, workers’ rights, and job security. Their Northern board offers regional-specific advice, networking and training for workers in the TopDutch region.
Overview of TopDutch social networks
Connect International provides an opportunity to get together with other expats in the TopDutch region and allow you to support each other. They have regular kids nights and parents nights where internationals in the TopDutch region can get together and chat. They also organize interest-specific clubs such as beauty club, various clubs, and arts and cultural clubs.
Alongside this, they help you integrate into the Netherlands by offering Dutch classes and conversation groups, culture and communication workshops, professional development support and practical support such as tax workshops.
InterNations Groningen offer an online and offline meeting place for expats in the Groningen province. They have monthly get togethers, and also help you get to know people from your home country for when you want some home comfort.
The Groningen-based social event Gezellig Nederlands helps internationals practice their Dutch whilst getting to know new people. Go to the pub, meet up with internationals and locals, have a good chat: the only condition is that you (try) to talk in Dutch.
In the world of social media, an easy way of finding new expat friends, support and advice can be through Facebook groups. Expats in Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe each have their own Facebook groups. Websites such as Meetup.com can give an overview of social groups in the region that are made for people with similar interests, such as yoga or gaming, to get together.
Sign up to the newsfeed