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Dutch and German innovators: The perfect team?

Apr 20, 2016 3:19:22 PM. By: Kim Voets

This April 21, Angela Merkel and Mark Rutte will visit High Tech Campus Eindhoven. Both bring a number of ministers to discuss innovation in the German and Dutch high-tech industry. It draws attention to the connections between our countries and companies. Are we a good team? Can we strengthen our position together? What do German professionals working at High Tech Campus Eindhoven have to say about this?

We’re a great team
“I chose to study in The Netherlands back in 2008, because of the application focus. In Germany I should have studied Electronics first and later on do a master in the Biomedical domain. At TU Twente I could start in that direction right away. During my study I did an internship at imec and was immediately charmed by the work field and atmosphere. I find the Dutch culture pleasant and sociable. Hierarchy is flat and there is a true drive for innovation and progress. German companies are typically more conservative and excel in refining products with a legacy of a century. However, the progressive nature of the Dutch way of working can also be a pitfall. Germans tend to work more structured and efficient. I think we can (learn from each other and) be a great team together!”

Fabian Beutel, biomedical engineer at imec (Holst Centre)

Doubts on the match
“I have worked in Israel, the US, Japan and again in Israel. Sixteen years ago I landed in The Netherlands. It suited me. Three months after I had started at Philips Research I bought a house. I find the Dutch way of working very pleasurable. People here are driven by expertise. If you have specific knowledge, people will listen to you, whether you’re a boss or not. I have my doubts if the German and Dutch way of working form a good match. Our cultures may be alike to a certain point, but its little differences can break us up. The Germans cannot even imagine discussing a task over and over again and safeguarding every co-worker feels okay in his job. And the Dutch find it hard to cope with hierarchical decisions and top-down changing directions. However, with some melancholy I chose to continue my career in Germany. At the University of Cologne I am able to prolong my research into high-intensity focused ultrasound therapies, which I have been working on for the past 8 years.”

Holger Grüll, principal scientist Philips Research and professor at TU/e

Joint projects are welcome
“I have worked for quite some time at Philips, first in Germany and since 2012 at the Campus. I chose for this region because of the career opportunities in high-tech in general and at Philips in specific. The Campus provides an excellent atmosphere and great facilities. Since I have worked for a long time with Dutch co-workers I find it hard to still be aware of the differences. I think the German and Dutch culture are much alike. Yet, the Dutch prove to be a little more straightforward and inclusive. The Dutch are more open to say what they think. This can result in long discussions, but finally decisions will be more balanced and executed with a higher commitment.”

Tobias Tolle, group leader EMC and Wireless Connectivity at Philips Innovation Labs

Pragmatism, efficiency and a drive for innovation, if we are able to bridge our little differences, the Dutch and Germans make an excellent team.

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