What are the biggest cultural differences between Belgians and Dutchmen?

I am active in Belgium and the Netherlands and have noticed some differences.The Dutchman or the Fleming does not exist of course, but still some of my experiences.

  • Gastronomy

Food is still very important for the Belgian (Fleming).That is the way to enter into relationships, prove your friendship or enjoy life. There has been a greater awareness about nutrition in the Netherlands since the health hype.

When I’m going to perform in Flanders I always get a meal from the organization.That’s the way people receive to show your appreciation. I then get the question what I would like to have: fish, meat veggie, white wine,… Often the Frigo is full of beer, soda, wine,… They then sink through the ground of shame when I ask rosé and it appears to be forgotten.

In The Netherlands I get the reaction: “I’ve never gotten food from my boss why should you get something!”

Drinks are arranged with a voucher.”Have you gotten all your receipts?” The director then asks me to be tight in the suit.

I once drank a glass of water on stage.The discussion between the Director and the barmaid was then whether I was still entitled to a drink after the performance because my receipt was actually already “used up”.

When you receive people at your home in Belgium, you try to take care of the meal yourself.A Dutchman explained to me that he offers the people roycosoup, frozen meal of igloo and Campina pudding. Nice cosy. Belgians would sink through the ground of shame and the guests would feel offended.

  • The Dutch concert culture vs Flemish Plant Rekkerij

The Dutch want everything to be discussed with everyone.There is only one agreement if everyone has expressed their opinion and has been incorporated into the agreement. This can be dragged on for years (“Polderen”). As soon as there is an agreement, this cannot be waived. Woe your bones if you don’t like the appointments.

The Belgian will nod yes in the meeting to join the door behind him and think.’ We are not going to do this. I will arrange it my way. ‘

The Dutch boss thinks that all Belgians are in agreement because they have kinked yes.Nothing is less true. The Belgian simply makes no sense in the conflict and the long conversations that are going to follow

  • Flemish relationship vs Dutch “process” thinkers

Flemings are keen to have long-term relationships that they prefer not to deviate from.

A Flemish “sales” will never meet a contract during a meal at restaurant.That is sacrilege! The Dutchman will want to win some time and ask for a signature between the signs. Is perceived as very rude.

You can still ask a Flemish salesman after drawing of contract: He will then try to arrange things for you and help people to get you out of distress.

The Dutch sales will rather see its own job as part of a ‘ process ‘.His task was to obtain the signing of the contract. For matters after the sale, he will give you the number of the service desk, billing service or Helpdesk. His task is accomplished.

  • The orange feeling vs?

Dutch people know a huge “orange” feeling.A sense of unity. You see that with the football, Queensday,… Belgians really don’t know that; I once talked to a Dutchman who had come to Belgium on the birthday of the Belgian king to party. Hilarious.! Nothing to notice of course in Belgium.

  • Dutch Pride vs Belgian inferiority feeling

The Netherlands has long been a “guide country” for Belgium.That’s how it came about and so it was thought about as well. In recent years, this has changed. The Netherlands has once been the center of the world. Belgium has always been an occupied area in the past.

There is a point somewhere in a dispute that the Dutchman says: “This is the Netherlands unworthy”.Not for the Belgian. That says, “This is the way it is here, and it will always be. I don’t have anything more. “

Look at the Bam route or Oosterweel connection, the new ring around Antwerp to solve the traffic knot.For years of file, it gets worse every day. For 2025 they are not going to start. Since 2005, they have already been on the Palaveren. What one means by “starting” is also not clear. Perhaps this is to say that we are going to put this on the political agenda again, and perhaps start thinking about the budget. There is no solution in sight, but we are used to this. Do you feel the resignation?

In The Netherlands I have seen similar billions of projects but after 5 years it is decided and executed.Somewhere, the Dutchman is going to take action and keep the honor high.

  • The Dutch Love bargains

I sell after my shows books and Dvds.I like to speak of a “package deal”. I give 5 euro discount.

In Belgium, we only buy what they want.In the Netherlands They first ask about the exact conditions of that package deal and then they go for it, because then they have a discount. Sometimes they try to get even more discount!

There are “buy evenings” in the Netherlands: Those are evenings, once a week (often on Thursdays in the center of the big cities and on Fridays in smaller towns/villages and in malls outside the city centre) that the shops stay open longer.Nonexistent in Belgium.

  • Dutch hospitality vs Flemish Narrow-minded

It must be said: I am received with open arms in the Netherlands.They are open to something new and especially when it comes from Belgium.

Belgians not unfortunately: it is much harder to get attention or be accepted as a Dutch.Do the Belgians not know you? Then they’ll call around to hear if their friends know you. If not, then it is. And certainly when it comes from the Netherlands. Not to be trusted. Triestige mentality.

Dutchman Shouden much more of something new to see.Wasn’t it right then they come to tell you. Because it is their opinion.

‘, ‘ I am a Belgian citizen.The cultural differences are very large between Dutch and Belgians. Most of the answers are written from a Dutch perspective. Not notwithstanding these are things that are correct but not well understood. Belgians are not narrow-minded but they are more distant especially if you do not know them well. Once the ice is broken then its Belgians are very hospitable. Also ‘ the Dutch concert culture vs Flemish Plant Rekkerij ‘. This is completely misunderstood. This is because you are communicating in a way. We Belgians are very modest we also blow very rarely from the tower. Even if something goes wrong, we will not immediately make it clear in an unfaintly manner. If someone makes a mistake then we will ask this question and we will not finish that person for a moment. Dutch people do not find this efficient. But how efficient are you if you need to cooperate with that other person? That’s why it easily collises between Dutch and Belgians. The Dutch are much more commercial than Belgians, but that also sometimes goes wrong due to a lack of sophistication. Many Dutch people call themselves a Burgundian, but in Belgium we mean something else with it. But explaining this in some sentences is very difficult and rationalized. I work regularly with Dutch people and this walk very well but it requires a completely different mindset. And I note that, in general, we are respected by the Dutch and mutually, but this sums up some time. It is also good to know these differences because this allows us to work better together.

“,” To my experience it is that Belgians have a little less structured life, which is something very positive for me. Belgians are generally slightly more flexible and plan and settle a little less than Dutch.This can be positive or negative, you often see that Belgians experience less stress and have a more lax life and that Dutch people often need structure and if there is not, this poses stress. However, the differences are not very large, the cultures are close to each other. What can also be noticed is that the Dutch are more obedient, if they are told something by a body with more authority than themselves, they believe it quickly and abide by the rules. Belgians are more common in this respect, trying to stretch their rights to the furthest and want transparency. This often works to their advantage. Belgians are generally more alert to injustice, and it is not for nothing that they also cease to be more frequent.

It is difficult to answer this question without falling into stereotypes.

Populations are not homogeneous.Not all Dutch people are the same, not all Belgians.

As an example, the Bridge club in Charleroi (Wallonia) where I play as a Valming: about one-third of the players have French names, one-third Dutch-speaking (the Great Famine in Flanders of the beginning of the 20th century) and one third Italian (the mines after WWII).Yet all are Walloons! This is a population of 65 people, in a young generation, you will find other names that deal with more recent migrations.

Another example can be found in the names of the political figures: Bourgeois, Anciaux, Leterme etc.His Flemings, Cools, Spitaels, Onkelinckx, Reynders and Daerden (speak UI: “d’Ardennes”!) etc. Are Walloons. It is an entire mission of the political class to make us believe that there are two populations in Belgium and they succeed wonderfully, unfortunately! The autonomy of the regions leads to the artificial reinforcement of certain differences.

You could write books about the difference between Dutch and Belgians, between Flemings and Walloons, even between Antwerpen aren and Brusslaars.(My grandmother called people who did not live in OS village but in the village 5 km further “strangers”!).

I only doubt the scientific seriousness of these differences.And yet they exist! As a Fleming I notice that:

  • 95% of the Dutch cars have a towbar
  • If you see a car with a Dutch license plate on a \French autostrade: \t \t\t75% are very \t\tsmall wagons pulling a caravan at 90 km/h \t\t20% are \t\tVolvos with an imposing lady at the wheel that drive 129 km/h \t\t \t\t% are Audis \t\tof Jaguars that you’ll be passing too fast to see who’s on the \t\thandlebar!
  • Belgians like to \tmet Terreinwgen sides, even in the cities.

Dutch do not do such \tdomme things!

  • Etc.
  • (Enter your \teigen determinations…)

    Finally this: racism consists of certain characteristics due to certain population groups.

    Had the question: “What are the cultural differences between whites and blacks?” The question might be considered racist.Idem If you would find verschiiole between Dutch and Turks or Belgians and Marokanen. I the question of the Belgians and the Dutch also not a bit racist?

    I heard from hearing that the Dutch are noisier than Belgians.Furthermore, Belgians would be more than Dutch.

    Furthermore, Belgium would be a country where bosses would not be as authoritarian as in France but where it is not as egalitar as in the Netherlands.

    In Belgium There are also fewer rules.This seems to make the landscape look cluer. There would be many ribbon villages because everyone was free to build his house along the road.

    I have heard it a bit “hearsay” but I understand that Belgians are less than Dutch accustomed to inviting acquaintances for a visit at home, for example a housewife (or evt.Huisman) who invites the neighbor for a cup of coffee around an hour or a half eleven.

    What I have to say is that there is a big difference in the field of communication between Flemings and Dutchmen.
    Where a Dutchman tries to find a solution, a Fleming can occasionally react a little more re-actively, from the perspective that one takes responsibility only if one can take it.
    It seems like this is happening from some kind of political caution.

    What is your opinion, Freek Glas?

    Very short and powerful: The Belgians live, perhaps shorter where the Dutch presumably longer only exist.

    Half a year ago I had an exchange with a Belgian translator who gave his opinion on the cultural differences between Belgium and the Netherlands, based on his experiences and feelings.I did not agree with him because from Eindhoven I spent my childhood partly in Flanders (2 – 3 months a year) and at later age 2 studies followed at Uni Antwerpen with other feelings/impressions about the extremely pleasant, cosy and high Valued Belgium. However for me is emotion etc. Important but not decisive.

    I have given a first substantive response (which I will save you) a IMHO some more substantiated comment which I copied below.

    I hope it adds some, if not my apologies for abusing your time.

    My comment:

    As promised, after reading the sources, I would still react in substance.I checked Hofstede, Trompenaars and Wikipedia. Claes & Gerritsen (2013) Not and that is unfortunate because both ladies ‘ ‘ have tried to slide the four different models together and that has resulted in a model…. In Subvalues ‘ ‘. ‘ ‘ In Total, anno 2014 sixteen (sub) values can be distinguished to describe the differences In values between the cultures of the world ‘ ‘.

    In any case, this does not sound very scientifically.

    As well as the effect which I think is weak, which according to Gerritsen is based on interviews.Just one example illustrating: Culture dimension 2d: ‘ ‘ Flemings would more often show their emotions. A Flemish journalist once said about the Dutch that these Calvinists could only celebrate exude celebration when they saw at the same time as beasts, for example during the Elfstedentocht. ‘ ‘

    In Part 2, Gerritsen also states that the Dutch are predominantly Protestant, this is also a factually inaccurate demographic image.

    Hofstede has its model based on research in the global IBM population; His pupil Trompenaars has built on it and his own model with seven cultural dimensions based on data of about 30,000 participants in his trainings worldwide, this database is regularly supplemented.It has brought Trompenaars, the only Dutchman, for a series of years in the top 50 of the world’s most influential management thinkers.

    In Hofstede I found 33 references to Belgium, of which only two concretely related to Flemish language resp.Flemings and then in relation to Walloon resp. Walloons.

    In addition, eleven references to Belgium of which are relevant.Hofstede on p. 19: ‘ ‘ Some nations are less culturally integrated than others. Examples are some ex-colonies and multi-lingual and multi-ethnic countries like for example ex-Yugoslavia, Belgium or Malaysia. Even in these countries where ethnic and/or linguistic groups consider themselves distinctly different from each other, more common traits can be common than with populations in other countries. This is the case with the two language groups in Belgium ‘ ‘.

    In summary, Hofstede and Trompenaars are very clear about the cultural differences between Belgium and the Netherlands.Both show that Belgians (both Flemings and Walloons) are scoring closer to France on most of the cultural dimensions where the Netherlands scores much closer to the Scandinavian countries.

    Hofstede even concludes (p. 63) that there are no two countries with a common border and common language in the IBM index that are so far apart as Belgium and the Netherlands.Hofstede explains this because from Julius Caesar Belgium was almost constantly part of other ‘ powers ‘, until 1831, after 15 years, the divorce with the Netherlands took place. On p. 119 He even mentions Belgium as part of the Latin countries.

    In Culture’s Consequences, Hofstede on p. 435 gives another interesting consideration that simulations show that national culture influences negotiation behaviour within the country, but this does not say anything about the behaviour of international negotiations.

    Finally, Trompenaars gives in both ‘ Over the boundaries of culture and management ‘ as well as in the ‘ Business Guide ‘, concrete advice and tips for doing business with other cultures based on its seven culture dimensions.


    Marinel_Gerritsen_Vlaanderen_en_Nederland-een_taal_twee_culturen. PDF, consulted 14 March 2019.

    Trompenaars, F., Hampden-Turner, C. (1998), on the boundaries of culture and management.

    Amsterdam/Antwerp: Contact.

    Hofstede, G. (2001), Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviours, Institutions and Organizations

    Across Nations.Thousand Oaks/London/New Delhi: Sage Publications.

    Hofstede, G. (1997), Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, Intercultural Cooperation and its

    Importance for Survival.New York etc.: Mc. Graw-Hill.

    Trompenaars.Hampden-Turner. (2001), Better Business Guide to Intercultural Management.

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