Sustainable Innovation

Best Practices in The Netherlands

‘What about The Netherlands ?’  

How are Dutch companies dealing with Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability > There should be a sense of urgency with respecto to sustainable matters, knowing that a large part of the country is situated below sea level. As well, there are quite some entreprises that have started 10 years ago with CSR and Sustainability policies. 

What to learn from the Dutch entreprises ? It will be subject of the next series of articles.


Water Civil Works (Zeeland) and canels in Amsterdam (The Netherlands Capital)

I am talking to the Senior Managers that are responsible for the Sustainability or Corporate Responsbility Policy. In Dutch , this is called ‘Maatschappelijk Verantwoord Ondernemen’ (Societal Responsibly Entrepreneurship) or ‘Duurzaam Ondernemen’ (Durable/Sustainable Entrepreneurship).

Group and Trading Community Roots. The Dutch Society can be characterised as a ‘Group Community’  and a ‘Trading Community’ (1), consisting of interacting groups and individual. There is a high sense responsible for both their individual tasks as well as the groups objectives. People are very aware ‘Opportunities’ and ‘Threats’ for the maintenance of the (trading) business.

Extensive Negotiation Rounds leading to Consensus Decisions. Whereas the French society can be characterised by a ‘Royal Culture’, with a top-down structure, The Netherlands is certainly not. There is a long tradition of negotiations : between public organisations, entreprises, trade-unions, consumer pressure groups and ONGs, the ‘Poldermodel’. Politics and industry Leaders are valued for their negotiation skills and their capabilities to bring and keep everybody together. Socially Engaged Entrepeneurship (or Sustainable Development) does perfectly fit in this model.

Dutch companies have understood quickly that CSR is a license to operate. Stakeholders dialogues have always been essential for surviving as a business.

Dutch Best Practices. In order to understand the business principles and processes in The Netherlands, I have interviewed Dutch senior managers responsible for Sustainable or Corporate Responsible Development. I have used questions similar to the ones asked to the French counterparts  :  How are CSR goals created ? Does it stimulate Innovation ? How does the economic crises effect Sustainability ? What are outlooks ?  How were the Sustainable Innovations conceived ? How have the stakeholders been involved ?

Enjoy the next series of Best Practices; those about Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability in  The Netherlands.

Source 1 : ‘Hoe dromende fransen en efficiente Nederlandse samenwerken’, Pieter Kottman, NRC 3 October 2003.


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