Oldenzaal - Sweden, a golden combo?

Last year Conseiller assisted two entrepreneurs from Oldenzaal with the sale of their businesses to Swedish buyers. These transactions were just eight months apart. An interesting coincidence, we thought, and perhaps worth looking at in a little more detail.

The first sale was that of Huka to AdderaCare. Huka specializes in adapted bikes, wheelchair scooters and mobility scooters for people with a physical disability. Huka was taken over by AdderaCare, based in Malmö.

The second sale concerned Oldenzaal Animal Hospital which was sold to AniCura. Oldenzaal Animal Hospital specializes in veterinary care for small pets. AniCura originates from Sweden and is Europe’s leading provider of animal care.

Could the success of these two transactions be explained by cultural similarities or differences between the Netherlands (or more specifically, Oldenzaal in Twente) and Sweden? Or does that have nothing to do with it and it’s just a coincidence?

Various sources on the internet say that in Sweden, just as in the Netherlands, the general organizational structure is horizontal and not very hierarchical. People are spoken to by their first names and the polite form of ‘you’ in Swedish is now only used when addressing the King.

In addition, the same sources mention that the Swedes attach great importance to unanimity and harmony, preferring to avoid conflicts. Unlike what we are used to in the Netherlands, criticism is expressed rather more indirectly.

Furthermore, delegating responsibilities and powers in Sweden is perfectly natural. We certainly noticed that in both transactions. Powers are delegated almost without thinking. The Netherlands seems to be more formal in this respect.

Sweden has a consultative structure in which everyone can have their say. As a result, it can take a while before a decision is made. But once the Swedes have reached a decision, they stick to it. The Dutch tend to do business on the basis of trust, and so both countries and cultures are well suited to each other, although the Dutch generally appreciate a bit of spontaneity.

Finally, there are two amusing similarities with the culture of Twente. Swedes evidently appreciate it if their business partner is open, but often keep their own cards closer to their chest. In Twente, people tend to be cautious at first and keep their options open. And the Swedes have a way, just as the people of Twente, of avoiding a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The Swedes say ‘nja’, and a ‘Twentenaar’ will say ‘joa joa’.

All in all, it’s no coincidence that Swedish buyers are able to do business well with Dutch sellers. There are of course several cultural differences, but these perhaps make relations with each other actually more interesting. Hopefully the Oldenzaal entrepreneurs will experience that in person and cooperation with their new Swedish partners will prove to be profitable.

Finally, it’s good to know at any rate that the coffee break is an important part of the working day where the process of discussion and decision-making begins. And luckily the Dutch are particularly keen on drinking coffee.