Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dutch company elite by far the most international in Europe

31.03.2008
During discussions about the take-over of ABN-AMRO bank, the Dutch suddenly found themselves faced with 'national economic interests’. The take-over of one of the national icons by non-Dutch companies prompted all kinds of emotional reactions.

‘The main question, however, is what makes a company Dutch?’ asks Kees van Veen from the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Groningen. ‘Is it just the shareholders or do the top managers count?’ One of the conclusions reached by Van Veen, who is researching the compilation of the Executive Boards and Supervisory Boards in major European companies, is that the Netherlands is leading the way in terms of the number of foreigners sitting on its boards.

So when is a company in national hands? The role of shareholders in the Netherlands has been reinforced, and the removal of various protective constructions means that the Dutch share package has simply become a constituent part of the global capitalist system. Nothing Dutch about it any more. However, two other relevant parties are still up there at the top: the Supervisory Boards and the Executive Boards.

Half non-Dutch
Second to Luxembourg (a country with very few major companies), the Netherlands has far and away the most internationalized Executive Boards. This was one of the findings in Van Veen’s study of 363 major companies in fifteen European countries. ‘It brings us back down to earth and puts a new angle on the debate’, he says. ‘Nearly half of the members of the Executive Boards of the 25 AEX companies are of non-Dutch nationality. The difference with number 2, the United Kingdom, is considerable: twice as many. And after Germany and Belgium, the numbers drop sharply to 2.5 percent in Spain. The data we are currently collecting on Supervisory Boards shows a similar trend.’
A country of auxiliary branches
The tide does not seem to be turning. Van Veen: ‘But we should be asking ourselves if this is really a problem. As long as this aspect of the globalization process remains unavoidable and irreversible, does it really matter in the long term who is running which company? We are simply leading the way for the time being.’ Yet the Netherlands is way ahead of the other countries. If in the future more closed company elites from other countries were to start systematically monopolising positions of power, or our national interests were in some other way to become seriously compromised, our current position at the forefront may prove to be less well-advised, according to Van Veen. ‘This would make us a country of great auxiliary branches, but with little access to the economic centres of power.’
Lonely frontrunner on the global stage
The Netherlands is also a frontrunner at the global level: international research into the eighty largest multinationals revealed that the number of foreigners on the various boards has increased over the past fifteen years. Van Veen: ‘But this often involves small numbers per board and does not reflect the speed of the changes that have taken place here in the Netherlands.’ Asian companies turn out to have almost no foreign board members and North-American companies just a few. Europe is clearly well ahead, and within Europe, the Netherlands is the lonely frontrunner.
Causes
In search of causes, various company-level and country-level factors seem to play a role. For example, the extent of foreign operations varies per company. ‘This is certainly important’, says Van Veen, ‘but the impact is not as great as one would first imagine. The length of time that a country has been part of the European Union can also make a difference, but again, this is only marginal.’ However, cross-border partnerships such as between SHELL and Unilever in the past, and mergers such as recently took place between CORUS and Air France-KLM, do seem to be important. ‘These companies subsequently partake in complicated and lengthy internal games in which the nationality of managers and supervisory directors plays a role, but which have very diverse outcomes,’ explains Van Veen. ‘For some companies, this is the starting point of a real international structure, for others it is merely a temporary blip, soon to be followed by a return to managers from their own country of origin.’
Curriculum vitae
Kees van Veen is Assistant Professor in the International Business and Management Department of the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Groningen. The compilation of top management and Executive Boards in Europe is amongst his specialist fields.

Eelco Salverda | alfa
Further information:
http://www.rug.nl

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Microtechnology industry is hiring – positive developments of past years continue
09.04.2018 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik

nachricht RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index with minor decline on a high overall level
20.03.2018 | RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: ScanCut project completed: laser cutting enables more intricate plug connector designs

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.

Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rare Earth Elements in Norwegian Fjords?

06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences

Anode material for safe batteries with a long cycle life

06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

06.08.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>