PESTEL analysis of the Netherlands
This detailed PESTEL analysis of the Netherlands aims to address some of the political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal factors that affect the Netherlands today. The Netherlands is one of the most democratic and richest countries in the world. It is informally and widely known as ‘Holland’ and the people of the country are known as ‘Dutch’.
Political factors affecting the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy. It is also a parliamentary democracy. The monarch is the head of state; however, has limited powers and ceremonial functions. A coalition of different political parties govern the country as a single party does not usually wins the majority in elections. The Prime Minister is the head of government who usually comes from the party that won the most seats in the elections. There are a number of parties in Dutch politics; however, the three dominant ones are the PvdA (The Dutch Labour Party), the CDA (The Christian Democrats), and the VVD (The Dutch Liberals).
The Netherlands is a keen advocate of the European Union; however, voices against the union are also heard in different corners of the country. It works closely with the USA and other countries on a variety of international programmes. It is a member of the UN, the EU, NATO, CoE, WTO, IMF, OECD, and OSCE. The government of the Netherlands does not much interfere with the country’s market system. The main impact of the government on the economy is through regulation and taxation.
The Netherlands is one of the least corrupt countries in the world. Political corruption is not tolerated at all, and any cases that arise are dealt with appropriately. The Netherlands is a tolerant, friendly and co-operative society; however, the rise of far-right politicians has been a concern for many people. Some politicians have also been accused of using defamatory and provocative languages in public that normalise stereotypes, prejudices and paranoia.
Economic factors affecting the Netherlands
The next element to address in the PESTEL analysis of the Netherlands is the economic environment. The Netherlands is a part of the euro zone and the 17th largest economy in the world. It is also the 6th largest economy in the European Union. Its GDP in 2018 was 912.87 billion US dollars (Trading Economics, 2019). However, amid Brexit uncertainties, and global trade disputes, the economy is expected to grow 1.7% 2019, and 1.4% in 2020.
Compared to many EU countries, the Netherlands has lower unemployment rates. Likewise, the minimum wages for workers aged 22 or over are €1,615.80 per month as of January 2019. This makes the country the third-highest minimum wage paying country in the EU. Luxembourg (€2,071) and Ireland (€1,656) are the two countries that offer higher minimum wages than the Netherlands (Expatica, 2019). However, it is worth noting that the Netherlands has some of the highest income taxes in the world.
Refined petroleum, broadcasting equipment, crude petroleum, human/animal blood, packaged medicaments are the top exports of the Netherlands which mostly go to countries such as Germany, Belgium-Luxembourg, the UK, France, and Italy. The main imports of the Netherlands are crude petroleum, refined petroleum, broadcasting equipment, office machine parts, and computers that mostly come from countries such as Germany, Belgium-Luxembourg, China, the USA, and Russia (OEC, 2019).
Social factors affecting the Netherlands
The Netherlands is one of the richest countries in the world and its people are happier than those of many European nations. The Dutch people tend to work less hours and therefore, can spend more time with family and friends. They earn better as well; hence better standards of living. In fact, they are a very good example of work-life balance.
The Netherlands is a friendly and tolerant country. As of the end of 2018, the total population is 17.8 million (Eurostat, 2019). The life expectancy for men is 80 years, while 84 years for women. The major language is Dutch, while Christianity is the major religion (BBC, 2018). The Netherlands has an easy-going café culture, and cultural and sporting events take place throughout the year. Though Dutch is the major language, almost everyone in the country can speak English.
However, there are some social challenges facing the Netherlands today. For instance, social inequality is a major problem. There is a widening gap between highly educated people benefitting from globalisation and less educated people being left behind by it. Likewise, racial discrimination and discrimination against disabled people and pregnant women have also been reported in various media (Brown, 2018).
Technological factors affecting the Netherlands
The Netherlands is one of the leading countries in Europe in technological advancement. English-speaking and tech-savvy work force has made it easy for global IT companies such as Microsoft, Cisco, Interxion, Infosys, Huawei, Oracle, Netflix, Intel, IBM, Uber, Verizon, and Google to establish their presence in the country. Amsterdam Science Park is a hub for high-quality technical facilities and research institutes (Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, 2019). It is worth noting that tech development is not confined to the capital only, rather it can be found all over the country.
The use of social media is widespread in the Netherlands. For instance, as of August 2019, the total number of users of WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat are 11.9, 10.1, 4.9, 8.7, and 2.4 millions respectively (Best, 2019). This shows the enormous opportunities for online businesses in the country. However, it is worth noting that the Netherlands, particularly, Amsterdam has an acute shortage of tech talent and many jobs are not filled due to this shortage.
Environmental factors affecting the Netherlands
The Netherlands is small but a picturesque country. Its offer of seven UNESCO world heritage sites, world-renowned museums, historical monuments, beautiful canals, islands, stunning towns and villages, and colorful nightlife attract tourists from all over the world, particularly from the neighbouring countries. In fact, tourism is now a key industry in the country. It offers approximately 641 thousand jobs and contributes 3.9% to the country’s GDP (Statistics Netherlands, 2018).
However, the Netherlands faces some big environmental challenges. For instance, it is considered Europe’s most dangerous place to live as large parts of the country are below sea level (Lundberg, 2016). It is highly exposed to natural disasters and climate change. Other environmental challenges for the country are air and water pollution, loss of biodiversity, and overexploitation of natural resources.
Legal factors affecting the Netherlands
The last element to address in the PESTEL analysis of the Netherlands is the legal landscape of the country. However, it is worth noting that due to the limited scope of the article, the discussion here is somewhat limited.
As a liberal and tolerant country, many things are legal in the Netherlands which are unlikely to be legal in many other countries. The judiciary is independent of political interference and anyone whether locals or foreigners, can expect an impartial trial and justice from the judicial system. Dutch Equal Treatment Act prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, personal beliefs, political opinion, race, sex, nationality, hetero – or homosexual orientation and civil status (L&E Global, 2016).
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Last update: 22 October 2019
BBC (2018) Netherlands country profile, available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17740800 (accessed 22 October 2019)
Best, R. (2019) Number of individuals using the leading social media platforms in the Netherlands in 2019, by social network (in million users), available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/579626/social-media-penetration-in-the-netherlands-by-social-network/ (accessed 19 October 2019)
Brown, E. (2018) Discrimination in the Netherlands: it’s not just nationality, available at: https://dutchreview.com/news/dutch/discrimination-in-the-netherlands-its-not-just-nationality/ (accessed 19 October 2019)
Expatica (2019) Work in the Netherlands: finding a job, available at: https://www.expatica.com/nl/employment/finding-a-job/work-in-the-netherlands-finding-a-job-102331/ (accessed 10 October 2019)
Lundberg, T. (2016) The Netherlands is Europe’s most dangerous place to live, available at: https://www.iamexpat.nl/expat-info/dutch-expat-news/netherlands-europes-most-dangerous-place-live (accessed 01 September 2019)
L&E Global (2016) Anti-Discrimination Laws in The Netherlands, available at: https://knowledge.leglobal.org/anti-discrimination-laws-in-the-netherlands/ (accessed 22 September 2019)
OEC (2019) the Netherlands, available at: https://oec.world/en/profile/country/nld/ (accessed 21 October 2019)
Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (2019) The digital gateway to Europe, available at: https://investinholland.com/industries/information-technology/ (accessed 22 October 2019)
Statistics Netherlands (2018) Tourism sees fastest growth in over ten years, available at: https://www.cbs.nl/en-gb/news/2018/14/tourism-sees-fastest-growth-in-over-ten-years (accessed 21 October 2019)
Trading Economics (2019) Netherlands GDP, available at: https://tradingeconomics.com/netherlands/gdp (accessed 20 October 2019)
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Author: Jo David
Jo David has years of experience both in the UK and abroad. He writes regularly online on a variety of topics. He has a keen interest in business, hospitality and tourism management.