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Belgium

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Belgium is a highly industrialized country and a model of Western European liberal
democracy. Brussels, the capital, is the headquarters for both the European Union
(EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Belgium is also the
headquarters for many multinational corporations and attracts many global
executives.

Belgians are primarily Flemish (Dutch-speaking) or Walloons (French-speaking),
highly urbanized, known for their strong sense of family and entrepreneurial spirit.
In recent years, there has been a growing divide between these groups as well as
concerns about radical Islamic immigrants.

The overall economy relies heavily on global conditions since most revenue is from
the manufacture and distribution of goods to global markets.

Belgium is a gourmand's delight and is known for both its beer (over 500 varieties)
and its chocolate (over 2,000 chocolate shops).

Culture Overview

Cultural Essentials

Diverse Population
Belgium is not a homogeneous country with one national identity. Instead,
there are three dominant cultures that are geographically determined. The
north, Flanders, is primarily Dutch; the south, Wallonia, is mostly French;
and the northeast, is heavily German influenced. The cultural divisions
between the three groups are distinct, and in both Flanders and Wallonia,
people hold to their traditions and customs with cultural pride.

Dutch, French and German are the official languages. Many Belgians are
fluent in several languages, including English. In the northern provinces,
people speak Dutch. To the south, the Walloons speak French. The two
languages mix in Brussels. Along the geographic line where the languages
meet, it is common for French to be spoken on one side of a street and
Dutch on the other. Throughout the country, road signs are printed in both
languages. There is also a small area in eastern Belgium where German is
spoken.

Direct Communication

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The linguistic divide impacts communication styles. In Dutch-speaking
Flanders, Belgians tend to say what they mean in a direct, matter-of-fact
manner. This may sound abrupt to people who come from more indirect
communication cultures. Like the French, the Walloons prefer eloquent
communication and a well-presented position. They prefer subtlety since
they see that trait as an indication of intelligence.

Belgians generally state disagreements openly and clearly, often without
an attempt to soften the message in order to sound more diplomatic. At the
same time, they dislike confrontation and prefer compromise. This means
they seldom take an extreme position.

Belgians often engage in long, critical discussions before reaching a
decision so that they can be certain they have considered all the
alternatives. They believe it is rude to be confrontational. They will tell you
what they think, even if it is not what you want to hear, but they will do so
with the utmost of charm and politeness.

Formality
Belgians have a formal style. They shake hands at the beginning and end
of a meeting and address each other by honorific titles (Mijnheer (Mr.) and
Mevrouw (Mrs.) in Flanders and Monsieur and Madame in Wollonia) and
surname. Although it is becoming increasingly common for colleagues to
use first names at work, this practice remains rare when there is a distinct
difference in age or position and when dealing with clients or suppliers.

For the most part Belgians dress conservatively, although there are
variations depending upon job level and industry. Many Belgians make
assessments as to someone's status and achievements based upon their
clothing and accoutrements.

Belgians prefer a well-modulated tone of voice that errs to speaking softly
rather than loudly. They are polite and will not interrupt someone who is
speaking. They will think negatively if you engage in conversation overlap.

Meetings are more formal than they are in many cultures. Belgians can be
cautious around people that they do not know. Expect it to take some time
for this aloofness to wear off.

Time
Most Belgians view time as something that can and should be controlled.
Therefore, they expect punctuality in both social and business situations.
Time may be a bit more relaxed in Wallonia, but it is still viewed as within a
person's control.

Belgians strictly delineate their business and personal lives. Work is a
means to an end, and it is unusual for a Belgian to allow work to interfere
with their personal time, which is almost sacred. It is only in rare situations
that someone will work on the weekend or will stay late in the office.

Meeting deadlines is a matter of personal pride; missing a timetable brands
someone as unprofessional or incompetent.

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Since they plan their work time judiciously, Belgians become irritated if
someone with a more flexible view of time impacts their ability to complete
a task. They dislike changing deadlines to accommodate the inability of
someone else to make their commitments.

Religion

Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the Belgian constitution. Most
Belgians are Roman Catholic. However, Islam has grown significantly
because of the influx of immigrants. Other recognized religions include
Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish, and Anglican.

The effects of religion can be seen in the respect for hierarchy and many
religious holidays that are also public holidays.

Role of Women

Belgium is often at the forefront of equality legislation. The government has
enacted many laws to improve women's status. In the Flemish region, the
focus has been on changing female stereotypes in advertising and the
media, whereas the French region is tackling the issue of equal wages for
comparable work.

The federal government enacted legislation in 2003 to ensure that men and
women were equally represented in political party elections. This was the
first law of its kind in the EU. The presence of women in governmental
advisory bodies has increased due to legislation that requires that both a
male and female candidate be recommended for each position and that no
more than two-thirds of the members may be of one sex.

Women comprise about half the work force, although a large number work
part-time so that they may also handle the majority of the domestic
arrangements. Although many men have taken on a larger role in
childcare, it remains the woman’s role to stay home with an ill child. The
government is actively seeking solutions to caring for sick children so that
neither parent must take off from work.

The government has made great strides in enacting laws to promote equal
job opportunities and professional training for women. Nonetheless, there
is often a pay disparity between men and women. Women who work
outside the home are present at all levels up to middle management, with a
few women taking on executive management positions. Even in business,
women are treated with old-world courtesy by men.

As have many other EU countries, Belgium has issued gender quotas for

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corporate boards. By July 2017, one-third of all directors must be female.
As of 2010, women filled less than 10% of the seats on boards.

View of Foreign Women
Status and hierarchy are the most important factor in business acceptance.
Therefore, foreign businesswomen with the proper qualifications and
credentials should experience little gender-related challenges.

Belgian businessmen, especially those over 35, treat businesswomen with
courtesy and respect and are proud of their courtly good manners and
gallant behavior. If you are from a culture that is more informal, Belgian’s
insistence on doing things properly and following old-world behavior
patterns may seem a bit strange. This is simply the Belgian way and is not
generally done in a patronizing manner.

Tips for Businesswomen
There are geographical differences in the way business is conducted. In
general, a businesswoman’s professionalism is judged from the way she
comports herself. She is expected to dress conservatively, in clothes
befitting her position and status.

A businesswoman is expected to offer her hand to a Belgian businessman
during the greeting process.

Visiting businesswomen will usually be treated with the same respect as
male colleagues, although they will also be treated extremely courteously.

Belgians are private people and do not discuss personal matters with
business colleagues. Therefore, it is best not to ask personal questions or
relay too much information about yourself.

Belgians are not expressive communicators. If you are from a more
demonstrative culture, you may wish to moderate your hand movements so
that they are not a source of distraction.

Belgians are proud of their culture and heritage. Learning something about
the art, music, and literature of the country prior to arriving will impress
your business associates.

In Wallonia, expect to be called by the honorific title "Madame", regardless
of your marital status.

Establishing Credibility
Introductions are important in Wallonia, which has a more hierarchical
management style. How you are introduced and the level of the person
doing the introduction lays the foundation for the way you are perceived
professionally. In Flanders, which is more egalitarian with less hierarchical
differentiation, introductions are not as important, although they can open
doors more readily.

If at all possible, have a higher-ranking person in your company who knows
the people with whom you will be working introduce you when you will be
doing business with a company for the first time. If this is not possible,

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we had to make generalizations.. Although there is a linguistic divide and the Flemish and Walloons do not generally mix.. Perhaps the most important tip we can provide is that when interacting across cultures. but in order to describe cultural traits. The government struggles to ensure sufficient capacity for receiving asylum seekers over the past decade.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. it could tarnish her professional image. Older businessmen may be reluctant to allow a businesswoman to pay for entertainment. Make certain that your business card prominently displays your title. If you have attended a prestigious university or have received any professional honor. there has been a steady stream of foreigners into the country. . which may not apply in some cases. They are designed to help you work and understand people from other cultural backgrounds. responsibilities. With the heads of many EU institutions being headquartered in Brussels. try to weave the information into your conversation without seeming to boast. Cultural Model.aspx. for the most part Belgians do not have difficulties accepting foreigners. Businesspeople under the age of 35 seldom have such concerns. Cross Culture Tips The following cultural observations are based on the dimensions in the ICAM169. Over the last three decades Belgium has become a settlement country for many immigrants (about 20% of the population).PrintView Page 5 of 43 have a higher-ranking person in your company to send a letter outlining your title. Whenever possible.2017. While there have been some concerns about refugees. 8. If she says that she must contact someone else for approval. lead the business discussion when you are part of a team. Titles and professional achievements determine status in Wallonia. you http://kpmg. and background. this visible taking charge enhances your credibility. Please keep in mind that not all people from any given culture act the same. View of Foreigners Belgium is generally a multicultural country. It is important that a foreign businesswoman have decision making authority.2.culturewizard. Even if all team members are equal. EU citizens make up more than half of the total non-national population in Belgium. even if she extends the invitation. Belgians are also accustomed to dealing with people from other cultures.

Tolerance for social mobility • How organizations are structured and run • The amount of responsibility and control employees are given Belgium is hierarchical. Hierarchical The defining characteristics of this dimension are: • How society is structured • How power is allocated or earned. Egalitarian vs. surnames and honorifics • The appropriateness of discussing personal matters at work • Appropriate ways of meeting people. When working with Belgians. to the more senior members of society.aspx.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. Informal The defining characteristics of this dimension are: • The importance of appearance and demeanor as an indicator of status • The importance of protocol and etiquette • The appropriate use of titles.PrintView Page 6 of 43 need to approach every situation with an understanding of the basic tenets of a given culture and yet remain alert to the specific cultural signals you receive in each situation and adjust your behavior and expectations accordingly. • Do not expect employees to display individual initiative. and decisions. through language and behavior. 8. . Formal vs. explicit directions regarding duties.2017. • In general. • Status is important and you may be judged on the image you present.. http://kpmg. you will be expected to demonstrate an authoritative leadership style. • Be aware that people expect to be treated differently based on their socio-economic backgrounds or levels in the organization. Check to be certain it is proper to use social functions to network. it is best to use the formal tense when using the local language. the clothes you wear and where you live and what car you drive. Therefore when you interact with Belgians: • Address people by their appropriate title and name. • As a manager. building relationships and entertaining Belgium is a formal culture.2. they expect to take direction from the leader. • Do not ask personal questions in a social setting unless you have developed a close relationship with someone. you will find following tips helpful: • You will need to give clear. • Show the appropriate level of deference and respect. deadlines.. • Expect to encounter more bureaucracy in organizations and government agencies.culturewizard. Do not move to first-name basis until invited. These external cues matter to locals.

...aspx.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. Interpersonal vs. provide employees with sufficient opportunities for independent problem solving. As you interact with people from Belgium. • Individuals will not be embarrassed to call attention to their accomplishments. independence and flexibility to get the job done. An individual's importance and self-worth is determined by their ability to think and work independently. • Individual expression is encouraged and will be demonstrated in people's appearance and behavior. teamwork in accomplishing and rewarding business goals • The roles and responsibilities of individuals to other family members • The appropriate levels of self-assertion and self-promotion within a society Belgium is an individual-oriented society. • As an employer or manager. 8.culturewizard. Individual The defining characteristics of this dimension are: • The source of an individual's identity and loyalties • The relative importance of the individual versus the group • Whether legal systems will protect the rights of the individual or focus on the group as a whole • Whether individuals prefer to work alone or be part of a group • Whether work teams operate as a seamless entity or as cooperating individuals • The value of individual contributions vs. individuals will strive to distinguish themselves by speaking out.PrintView Page 7 of 43 • Check with a colleague or local national about rules of protocol and etiquette about specific circumstances since being correct with etiquette is important.2. it will be helpful to remember the following tips: • People prefer to work independently rather than as part of a group. • Groups are seen more for collegiality than for sharing responsibility. Even when working in a group.2017. During meetings and presentations. Transactional Relationships The defining characteristics of this dimension are: • What constitutes a relationship • What are the expectations • Whether trust is deemed critical to building social or business relationships • What takes precedence in making a business decision: the people involved or other more objective business criteria http://kpmg. individuals will focus on their own primary tasks rather than that of the total group. Group vs. Individuals will respond well to being given the autonomy. • Be aware that it is culturally appropriate for employees to identify opportunities to demonstrate their abilities and "make their mark".

Indirect The defining characteristics of this dimension are: • The relative importance of verbal vs. • In some business situations. 8. you will want to remember these points: • The process of relationship building may be more formal and ritualized. once established. • There are expectations that people have of relationship-based behavior. entertaining at one’s home or even inviting someone for the weekend and while these may be seen as casual in your culture. speed and the reputation of a competitor. • Since the entire message is not contained in the words. Direct vs.2. people need context and background information to confirm a shared understanding. non-verbal communication • The degree of directness or subtlety in the language • The relative importance of contextual versus tactical information in conveying a message • The need to maintain harmony and dignity when communicating • The degree to which a society uses conciseness and clarity versus eloquent language when communicating Belgium is a relatively indirect communication culture. • While relationships may take longer to build. which may include going out after work to socialize.2017. even deferential demeanor.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. • Verbal eloquence is highly valued.culturewizard. the expectation is they will last a long time. • Take care when making introductions to have a respectful. personal relationship may take precedence over price.. .PrintView Page 8 of 43 • The pace and degree of formalized rituals in building new relationships • The appropriateness of mixing business and pleasure. they carry an underlying assumption of friendship. • Show you are considering the subject thoroughly when a topic is presented..aspx. http://kpmg. The following tips will give you clues about how you might handle communication with Belgian colleagues: • Non-verbal gestures enhance the meaning of the spoken word. When you have business or social interactions with people from Belgium. relationship-oriented culture. • Be prepared at social or business functions to be asked some questions that might seem somewhat personal in nature so your colleagues and acquaintances may get to know you better. or professional and personal lives Belgium is a relatively interpersonal. and take awhile to establish.

it is important to schedule visits in advance. Controlled Time The defining characteristics of this dimension are: • The degree to which people feel that they can control time • The relative importance of relationships vs. • Time management skills are valued. • Meetings and social events may have a scheduled starting and ending time. http://kpmg. people from Belgium may be reluctant to adopt new products or systems without a great deal of research. schedules • Attitudes towards timekeeping and punctuality • Comfort level with short range vs.culturewizard.PrintView Page 9 of 43 Fluid vs. and allow failure Belgium is a moderately External Control society. External vs. • Although change may be viewed in a positive light. • When delegating work to employees.aspx. longer term planning • The feasibility / appropriateness of assigning set times for social functions or business meetings to start and finish Belgium is a Controlled Time society.2017. • Since they value their time. people tend to see those who are not prompt as disorganized or even unprofessional. • Employees expect managers to be strong leaders who care for their staff and take a personal interest in their lives.. When interacting with Belgians. you should remember the following tips: • People in these societies believe they have limited control over their destiny or environment.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. The following tips will give you clues about how you may best interact with people from Belgium around time issues: • Most people consider time to be something that is within their control and they may have difficulties when outside forces interrupt their schedules. • Because they structure their time. . 8.2. Internal The defining characteristics of this dimension are: • The degree to which people feel they control their environment and destiny-or the degree to which they feel their environment and destiny control them • Openness to change and innovation • The preference for rules and structure • Willingness to take risks • The degree to which organizational practices encourage and reward initiative and risk taking. it is a good idea to make periodic checks on progress. meeting deadlines shows good management..

personal lives • How status and success are defined by a society • The presence or absence of government-sponsored initiatives relating to family welfare benefits • The source of an individual's identity and self-esteem • Tolerance for blurring the lines between professional and personal lives Belgium is a Moderate Balance-Status Motivation culture. Status The defining characteristics of this dimension are: • The importance and value attached to professional vs.. Religious liberty is guaranteed. • Employees may see a distinction between work time and personal time although they may also blur those lines with friends and family. religious traditions are still an integral part of Belgian daily life. with risk tolerance limited to those in decision making positions. education and pursuits outside of the workplace.. Country Overview The People The people of Belgium are primarily of two ethnic groups. When interacting with Belgians. • People can gain status and respect by workplace accomplishments.2017. Brussels.2. a number of Protestant denominations. Almost 10% of all Belgians live in Brussels. and part of the stipend for the ministers of all faiths is paid by the government.culturewizard. 8. the Flemings. an enclave within the Flanders region. who speak Dutch and reside in the Northern provinces. While church attendance is on the decline.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. who speak French and are found in southern Belgium. is mixed and is one of the world's few officially bilingual capitals. you should remember the following tips: • Personal identity. . • Obligations to family and close friends are often viewed as important as professional responsibilities. • Younger workers may expect to be measured on their own achievements. http://kpmg. Balance vs. Some 97% of the population is classified as urban. and the Walloons.aspx.PrintView Page 10 of 43 • Risk tolerance is often a matter of position. status and sense of personal accomplishment are often derived from family. Other religions practiced within the country include Islam. which is also home to vast numbers of foreign guest workers. and Judaism. • Social occasions may be used to achieve business objectives.

com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. . To reduce its deficit.PrintView Page 11 of 43 Despite its small population (approximately 10 million people). It is about 280 km (about 175 mi) long. Nationality: Noun: Belgian(s) Adjective: Belgian Population 10. trade and industry sectors. Three quarters of its exports go to other EU countries. Walloon 31%. French (official) 40%.409. http://kpmg. the central plateau.077 (July 2016 est. The country is party to international agreements concerning air and water pollution. Other contributors to the economy are found in the services. as the home to both the EU and NATO. the government initiated an austerity program that cut spending while raising taxes.2017. as the capital of Europe. combined with high unemployment rates. hazardous wastes. 8. The economy relies heavily on industry -. and is roughly triangular in shape. measured in a southeast-northwest direction.) Population growth rate: 0. other (includes Protestant) 25% Languages: Dutch (official) 60%. hindered Belgium’s overall economic growth. and wetlands. It is. Belgium has one of the highest gross domestic products (GDP) in the world. and the Ardennes highlands. ozone layer protection and climate control. Belgium has three main physiographic regions: the coastal plain.culturewizard.05% (2014 est.aspx. biodiversity..2. Brussels. Brussels.) Ethnic groups: Fleming 58%. German (official) less than 1%.. and Belgium is a strong proponent of integrating European economies. In the early 1990s a growing budget deficit. endangered species. Germany and Luxembourg to the east and France to the south. legally bilingual (Dutch and French) Source: The World Factbook Cities & Regions Belgium shares borders with the Netherlands to the north. Belgians sometimes regard their bilingual capital city. about 145 km (about 90 mi) wide. mixed or other 11% Religions: Roman Catholic 75%. as well as beginning a program to transfer some state-owned enterprises to the private sector.it imports great quantities of raw materials that are processed mainly for export.

with diverse architecture.2017. one of the most international cities in the world.PrintView Page 12 of 43 indeed. Brussels.cia.culturewizard.com/ A comprehensive directory of Belgian government web sites.aspx. 21 July 1831 (King LEOPOLD I ascended to the throne) Legal system: Civil law system based on the French Civil Code Note: Belgian law continues to be modified in conformance with the legislative norms mandated by the European Union. judicial review of legislative acts Source: The World Factbook Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members in Belgium https://www.gov/ An online directory of leaders updated weekly by the Central Intelligence Agency.gksoft.gov/ An overview of government and political conditions published by the U. is a charming place. many indoor and outdoor markets. Background Note: Belgium http://www. Government Country name: • Conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium • Conventional short form: Belgium • Local long form: Royaume de Belgique/Koninkrijk Belgie/Koenigreich Belgien • Local short form: Belgique/Belgie/Belgien Government type: Federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch Capital: Brussels Independence: 4 October 1830 (a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands).S.. 8. .com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. the capital of Belgium. Department of State. hosting myriad multinational corporate headquarters.2..state. http://kpmg. Links to Government Web Sites http://www. and is famous for some of its cuisine.

partners: Germany 16. processed food and beverages.overview: This modern. the unemployment rate stabilized at 8. and welfare benefits. Industries: Engineering and metal products.7% of GDP. With few natural resources. making its economy vulnerable to shifts in foreign demand.5%. textiles.8%.treasury. highly developed transport network.6%. glass. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's trade is with other EU countries. In 2015. .4%. and diversified industrial and commercial base. These changes risk worsening tensions with trade unions and triggering extended strikes. basic metals. and the budget deficit was 2. Italy 5% (2015) Source: The World Factbook More Economic Information Department of the Treasury http://www.2017. open.2. and private-enterprise-based economy has capitalized on its central geographic location.4%.. petroleum Exports .culturewizard. including changes to tax policy. but such efforts could also dampen economic growth. http://kpmg. which remains above 100% of GDP. The government has pledged to pursue a reform program to improve Belgium’s competitiveness.PrintView Page 13 of 43 Economy Currency: Euro (EUR) Economy . Industry is concentrated mainly in the more heavily-populated region of Flanders in the north. US 6%. France 15. transportation equipment. Prime Minister Charles MICHEL's center-right government has pledged to further reduce the deficit in response to EU pressure to reduce Belgium's high public debt.fgov. low wage growth and high unemployment promise to curtail a more robust recovery in private consumption.aspx. Netherlands 11. Belgian GDP grew by 1.be Financial information provided by the Belgian government. motor vehicle assembly. UK 8.. Belgium imports substantial quantities of raw materials and exports a large volume of manufactures. 8. particularly with Belgium’s EU trade partners.9%. scientific instruments.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. In addition to restrained public spending. labor market rules. chemicals.

Luxembourg 130 km.297 km Border countries: France 556 km. mild winters. rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast Elevation extremes: Lowest point: North Sea 0 m Highest point: Botrange 694 m Natural hazards: Flooding is a threat along rivers and in areas of reclaimed coastal land.culturewizard. dense transportation network. Netherlands 478 km Coastline: 66. extensive animal breeding and crop cultivation. Germany 133 km.000 km of Brussels. between France and the Netherlands Area: Total: 30. air and water pollution also have repercussions for neighboring countries Geography .2017.aspx..528 sq km Land: 30.PrintView Page 14 of 43 Geography & Climate Location: Western Europe. 8.2.current issues: Intense pressures from human activities: urbanization.note: Crossroads of Western Europe. cool summers. bordering the North Sea.278 sq km Water: 250 sq km Land boundaries: Total: 1. rainy. humid.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. cloudy Terrain: Flat coastal plains in northwest. protected from the sea by concrete dikes Environment . industry.5 km Climate: Temperate. the seat of both the European Union and NATO Source: The World Factbook http://kpmg. . most West European capitals within 1.. central rolling hills.

in which Britain. the Germans ignored its neutral status and occupied the country. while the southern provinces (Belgium) remained loyal to Spain. • The country was formally ceded to France by the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797. • In 1960.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. • In World War I. After the divisions of Charlemagne's empire. The Belgian cabinet refused to acknowledge defeat. but Belgium profited from French rule.000 soldiers and civilians died in the war. • During the War of the Austrian Succession in 1744. declaring the king’s surrender "illegal and unconstitutional. • Belgium abandoned neutrality. King Leopold III surrendered his remaining forces unconditionally on May 28 and was taken prisoner.PrintView Page 15 of 43 History Overview • Belgium takes its name from the Belgae. Charles V decreed that the Netherlands be formally joined to the possessions of Spain. • The Belgians drew up a constitution providing for a bicameral legislature elected by male property owners and a king whose executive acts had to be counter-signed by a responsible minister. Belgium became part of the Low Countries. Britain. a people of ancient Gaul.. a Belgian uprising drove Dutch troops from Brussels. the country was occupied by the French. • In 1993 Belgium became a federal state with three regions: Flanders. In 1581 seven Northern provinces declared their independence. and Russia accepted Belgian independence. Prussia. France. A million Belgians fled and more than 80.2017. Flanders was united with Burgundy. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 again united Belgium and The Netherlands. and in 1920 signed a military alliance with France. . Austria. and Italy affirmed Belgium’s territorial inviolability.. • Belgium joined the United Nations (UN) as a charter member in 1945 and in 1949 joined NATO. and Brussels. but it was restored to Austria by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. where the Franks first appeared in the 3rd century AD. Wallonia. http://kpmg.aspx. uprisings in the Belgian Congo forced Belgium to withdraw and the long-standing rivalry between Flemings and Walloons erupted into riots." The Belgian government moved to Paris and then London. it returned to Brussels after the war. France.culturewizard. and by the mid-15th century the dukes of Burgundy ruled the Belgian and Dutch Netherlands. it became a party to the Locarno treaties. confirming Belgium as an "independent and perpetually neutral state. The regime installed by the French was generally unpopular. • In 1384. 8. The Dutch recognized Belgium in 1839 and a peace treaty was signed. • Belgium was attacked for a second time by Germany in World War II. • In 1549.2." • Belgium was the first country in continental Europe to industrialize. In 1925. After the war Belgium was freed by the Allies. Germany. The nation had become politically and economically viable by 1865. • In 1830. and the Dutch had to agree.

8.. This marked the first time in over 40 years that the Christian Democrats were excluded from government. the country changed its currency to the Euro.aspx. In 1998.. • Amid concerns about potential destabilizing actions by extreme-right activists. • The Flemish Nationalist Party (NVA) became the largest political force in Flanders in October 2012.culturewizard. • King Albert II abdicated in favor of his son Philippe in July 2013. proposed pension reforms led to a country-wide strike.2. including the leftist Socialist parties and the environmentalist Green parties. • In 1999. a new government was formed. the police raided army barracks and soldiers’ homes in September 2006. Country Information Embassies History Public Holidays Tourist Information Social Etiquette http://kpmg. . The NVA called for greater autonomy for Flanders. • In October 2005.2017. legislation was enacted to close seven nuclear reactors by 2025 and banned new ones while investing in renewable energy sources and gas.PrintView Page 16 of 43 • Belgium is one of the founding countries in the European Union. • In January 2003.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView.

Naming Conventions • Belgian women don't change their surname upon marriage.2017. depending on where you are in Belgium. Even children shake hands with adults. • Lilies are best avoided because they have religious connotations. Start with the left cheek and alternate. bring flowers. a god quality bottle of wine.PrintView Page 17 of 43 Meeting People A brief handshake is the common greeting in Belgium. more a kissing of the air near the person's cheek. or a box of chocolates to the hosts.. Here are some general gift giving guidelines (but also check to be sure they are permitted under company policy): • If you are invited to a Belgian's house.culturewizard. • Some older Belgians may expect flowers to be unwrapped. two or three kisses on the cheek may replace the handshake. a plant. Men do not kiss other men. but not 13. it need not be expensive. Once a relationship develops. • Flowers should be given in an odd number of stems. Children may also receive gifts on December 6. 8. If you choose to give a gift. In Wallonia. French-speakers in Brussels are the slowest to move to a first-name basis. • Do not give chrysanthemums as they signify death. Belgians address others by their surnames at the beginning of a relationship. http://kpmg.aspx. They may also think that red roses signify romantic intentions. • Gifts are opened when received. they shake hands. This is not an actual kiss. use the formal pronoun for "vous" (you) rather than the informal "tu". . but it should be of good quality.2. It is expected that you will shake hands with the other guests upon arriving and when departing. • A small gift for the children would be appreciated. the Feast of Saint Nicholas. If invited to a party or other small gathering. Belgians exchange gifts with family and close friends for birthdays and Christmas. • Liquor should only be given to close friends.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. Gift Giving In general. wait for your hosts to introduce you to the guests. • Present the gift as soon as you arrive. Although changing somewhat with the younger generation..

As such. • Table manners are Continental -. If you are honored with an invitation to a Belgian's house: • Dress conservatively.culturewizard. "I have other plans" if you must turn down an invitation. so praising a meal is a sincere compliment. your response should be written as well. although the home is reserved for family or close friends. • Meals are social events.PrintView Page 18 of 43 • You may send a fruit basket to your hosts after the event to thank them for their hospitality. If you receive a written invitation. http://kpmg. If there are additional pieces of cutlery and you are not certain which to use. Belgians tend to be somewhat formal and prefer to give and receive invitations in advance of the event. Belgians view their homes as private and will only want you in the public areas. but it does not replace the note. This does not include jeans.2017. Belgians take pride in their appearance and expect you to do the same.. watch what others do and emulate their behavior.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. • Wait for your host or hostess to introduce you to the other guests. An invitation stating "formal dress" indicates black tie and dinner jacket. There is a proper protocol to follow and you will be expected to demonstrate good manners at all times.>li>Compliment the hosts on the food. • Belgians take pride in their cuisine. they may take a great deal of time. • Do not ask for a tour of the house.. Table Manners Table manners are formal in Belgium. • Do not initiate business discussions at social occasions. 8. Punctuality indicates respect. You may telephone as well.2.the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.aspx. . Belgians strictly divide their personal and business lives. • Women take their seats before men. • Send a handwritten thank you note the next day. Entertaining How Belgians Entertain Belgians socialize in their homes and restaurants. Offer an explanation such as. even if they are a designer brand. • Wait for your host to tell you where to sit. • Arrive on time. Smart casual is expected unless otherwise stated. • Keep your wrists above the table when eating.

and it is unusual for a Belgian to allow work to interfere with their personal time. . In Wallonia. In Flanders the phrase "dienst inbegrepen" indicates a service charge has been included.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. Leaving food indicates that you did not like it. Watch to see if others do so. • The Flemish raise their glasses twice during a toast. tipping is not common among Belgians. There is no need to tip the wine steward. but it is still viewed as within a person's control.2017.culturewizard. In general. • Beer or wine is customarily served with lunch and dinner.2. Tipping The following tipping hints are guidelines. The glass is initially raised during the toast and then at the completion of the toast.. http://kpmg. the phrase is "service compris". Toasting Etiquette • Wait to see if your host offers a toast before sipping your drink.. • Restaurants: 5 .aspx. • It is polite to stand for a toast. not during it. • The guest of honor may also give a toast. Therefore. bistros are less expensive than restaurants. You can find more explicit information on restaurant tipping in the Dining Out section above. It is only in rare situations that someone will work on the weekend or will stay late in the office. Most restaurants and bistros provide high quality food. which is almost sacred. Time may be a bit more relaxed in Wallonia. although their menu is more limited. Belgians strictly delineate their business and personal lives. tip 5 to 10%. If a service charge is not included ("dienst niet" or "service non compris"). they expect punctuality.PrintView Page 19 of 43 • Finish everything on your plate. • Women may offer a toast. Dining Out Since most restaurants add a service charge to the bill. even if there is a service charge. You may leave something extra to reward exemplary service. Cafes that serve food often provide the best value for money. • Porters: $1 per bag • Taxis: Round up Approach to Time Most Belgians view time as something that can and should be controlled. In social situations you are expected to arrive at the appointed time. • Coffee or tea is served after a meal.10% if no service charge. 8. Work is a means to an end.

• Greet the eldest or most senior person first. 8. • Do not point with your fingers. Good topics for conversation include Belgian food. • Do not flaunt wealth.PrintView Page 20 of 43 Conversation Topics Belgians are affable people who enjoy café society and relish an opportunity for intelligent conversation in congenial surroundings with like- minded company. If you must. Arriving without an invitation embarrasses everyone. or discuss Belgian history. • Do not speak loudly in public.2017. architecture. Do not ask personal questions.2. Belgians speak in moderate tones.. or the cultural and linguistic divisions in the country.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. Since they do not like to draw attention to themselves. • Do not use toothpicks or chew gum in public. Faux Pas Keep in mind the following behaviors while in Belgium: • Do not use excessive hand gestures while conversing. The home is private. beer. and current events. Belgians still follow old-world manners: • Men stand to greet a woman or when one enters the room. . politics. art. use the entire hand instead. Avoid bragging since Belgians are modest and think poorly of braggarts. Germans. Other Situations Do not stop by someone's home without telephoning first. sports.aspx. • Do not yawn in public. • Do not blow your nose in public.. • Do not pat someone on the back. http://kpmg. • Shake hands and say farewell to all guests when leaving.culturewizard. turn your back to the other people.

While this differs from person to person. Although the majority of Belgian businesspeople speak English. Key Words/Phrases Dutch and French are the official languages of Belgium. and their communication has become more egalitarian as a result of the interplay with other EU countries. At the same time. They are polite and will not interrupt someone who is speaking.aspx. It is a good idea not to initiate a discussion about your successes and accomplishments when first meeting a Belgian.PrintView Page 21 of 43 Communication Communication Essentials Although Belgians are fairly hierarchical. this practice remains rare when there is a distinct difference in age or position and when dealing with clients or suppliers. they dislike confrontation prefer compromise. Be cautious to use the appropriate language for each section of the country.culturewizard. People from cultures where a more indirect communication style is prevalent may have difficulty with the brevity and unadorned clarity of Belgian speech. Most people are at least bilingual. 8. Belgians generally state disagreements openly and clearly.2017. they appreciate foreigners learning a few key phrases in their language. Belgians can be sensitive to condescending behavior from foreigners. This means that they seldom take an extreme position.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. Although it is becoming increasingly common for colleagues to use first names at work. they communicate in a direct manner. Let this information come out a little at a time during subsequent discussions.2. They are comfortable addressing others in a frank and concise manner.. Modesty is respected. "Saying what you mean and meaning what you say" is both a value and an expectation. A small portion of the population speaks German. They will think negatively if you engage in conversation overlap. Belgians prefer a well-modulated tone of voice that errs to speaking softly rather than loudly. people from Belgium generally don’t need a lot of background or context in order to communicate their ideas or gather information. English Dutch French http://kpmg. .. often without an attempt to soften the message in order to sound more diplomatic.

pronunciation guide and links to more information.omniglot.com Dutch alphabet.com A series of videos featuring lessons on key phrases in French.2017.culturewizard. French http://www.youtube. French http://www.com French alphabet.youtube.com Video featuring basic phrases in French for beginners. pronunciation guide and links to more information.PrintView Page 22 of 43 Yes Ja Oui No Nee Non Good morning Goedemorgen Bonjour Good evening Goedenavond Bonsoir Hello Hallo Bonjour How are you? Hoe gaat het met u? Comment allez-vous? Please Alstublieft S'il vous plaît Thank you Dank U Merci You're welcome Graag gedaan De rien Excuse me Neem me niet kwalijk Excusez-moi/Pardon Goodbye Tot ziens Au revoir Spoken Key Phrases Dutch http://www.2.aspx. Have your translator explain to you the most elementary of basic courtesies. the translation must be exact.. 8.ehow. . Language Related Videos Dutch http://www.com Top ten phrases for traveling in a Dutch-speaking country. To be on the safe side you may want to meet with the translator prior to your appointments so that the person learns your accent and can be exposed to any technical or non-familiar terms that may be used. http://kpmg. Using Translators Take care in selecting a translator and develop an early understanding of what you expect--specifically. Developing a thorough relationship with your translator enables them to argue your points with a level of confidence they might not otherwise have.. rather than what the translator thinks each party wants to hear.omniglot. http://www.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView.

use "vous" until invited to move to the more informal "tu". Belgians generally do not use arm or hand gestures except to add emphasis to a message. In Wallon use "Monsieur" (Mr. French-speaking Belgians are more formal and reserved. Generally.. 8. "Mademoiselle" (Miss) is only used to address children. Do not sound condescending. although it remains a formal communications tool.).com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. although you may meet some Belgians whose personal communication style incorporates them. It is important to be polite and gracious. Likewise.aspx. letters are the preferred medium. use the formal form of you ("u"). and Flemish-speakers are more informal and direct. It is best to maintain a professional tone. or double negatives. Use simple language and avoid idioms. especially among the Flemish.). Eye contact during conversation adds to the credibility of the message and sustained eye contact throughout a conversation is expected. Email is used frequently. who are more hierarchical.2017. Phone calls and emails are used for ongoing.culturewizard. When writing to the French.PrintView Page 23 of 43 Non-Verbal Language Belgians like to have a fair amount of space between themselves and others when conversing (about the distance of an arm’s length). Mail & Telephone Letters/Email Address letters using the appropriate honorific titles.) or "Madame" (Mrs. . and allow your Belgian counterpart to set the tone in becoming more familiar. all communications should be direct and concise. When dealing with the Flemish. especially if writing in English. more informal communication. Written communication tends to be relatively formal.2. http://kpmg.) and "Mevr" (Mrs.. When writing to Dutch-speakers. slang. use the titles "Heer" (“Mr. For official company correspondence.

• Apologize to the audience if you use an interpreter. Address the person using the appropriate honorific titile and their surname until invited to move to a first-name basis. • Handouts should provide additional details. • Use diagrams and pictures when possible. • You may ask the audience to turn off their mobile phones. • Keep facial expressions to a minimum. • Slides should be an outline. • Make eye contact with your audience. 8. • Avoid fancy gimmicks in visual presentations. • A polished PowerPoint presentation that focuses on the main points is expected. • To emphasize a point. or spelling mistakes indicate lack of attention to detail. intersperse charts and graphs with written material. • Will arrive on time and expect the presentation to start on time. do not focus entirely on one member. • Keep A/V slides simple and easy to read. Presentations Handouts: • Handouts may be in English or in Flanders. background data.2017. you are expected to be an expert.culturewizard. Presentation Slides/PowerPoint: • Typos.2. key contributors. • Speak confidently. or charts and data to substantiate what is presented. in Wallonia. managers and often decision makers. • Relay information in a subdued manner. not the presentation. grammatical errors.PrintView Page 24 of 43 Telephone The telephone can be used to schedule appointments...aspx. Audience: • Subject matter experts. use both English and French. • Handouts may be given at any stage of the presentation. http://kpmg. .com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. Belgians expect substance. Speak slowly and carefully. Presenter: • Check in advance to determine if you will need an interpreter. • The audience may ask pertinent questions for clarification during the presentation. stay in touch or exchange simple information. using polite and diplomatic language.

• Provide supporting documentation including facts and figures. In business communication. leading zeroes are used. In this situation.. it is customary to write out the word for the month.2017. the first letter of the month is not capitalized. • Demonstrate how your idea has worked in the past. The year is written in four digits. Body of the Presentation: • Presentations should be well-organized. the audience may think you are hiding something. • Do not focus solely on the positives.2011.. If the day or month is less than 10. • Begin with a brief history of your company and your products or services. provide historical context and success stories. • Expect detailed and challenging questions from the audience.aspx. which require precise responses. • Belgians look for practical approaches and solutions to problems.2. • End with something for the audience to think about or consider. Be prepared to defend any claims made. although 09. • Emphasize details and explain the practical implications of your information. • When presenting a new concept. • Use common sense arguments. Date/Time Date In Belgium.11 would be understood. exaggeration or self-promotion. • Minimize slang or jargon and speak in a straightforward manner. • Fully explain the advantages of the proposal.PrintView Page 25 of 43 • Avoid using hyperbole. • Moderate expressive hand gestures if possible. Humor may detract from both the speaker and the material. • Leave time for a Q&A session at the end of your presentation. http://kpmg.07. 8. month and year format with a period between each number. Opening the Presentation: • Welcome the audience. succinct and to the point. Example: 9 July 2011 could be written 09. • Then provide an overview or agenda and state the expected length of the presentation. • Thank the audience. • Use logical arguments and concrete examples to back up your proposals. . • Do not open with a joke. dates are generally written in the day.culturewizard.07. Closing the Presentation: • You may present a summary at the end of the presentation.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView.

each with 12 hours. . Belgians generally communicate in writing using the 24-hour clock. The 12-hour clock divides the day into two periods (midnight to noon and noon to midnight).com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. In Dutch. although they use the 12-hour clock when speaking.2.. the half hour is said before the upcoming hour.culturewizard..aspx. 8. you may want to use the 24-hour clock when scheduling appointments. so ½ 9 means 8:30. Internet Language & Phrasebook Newspapers Postal Services Radio & Television Business Protocol Meeting & Greeting http://kpmg.2017. 2 o'clock in the afternoon would be 14:00 in the 24-hour clock. To avoid confusion. Thus.PrintView Page 26 of 43 Time The 24-hour clock is a timekeeping convention where the time of a day is the number of hours since midnight.

and be careful to use the proper ones.2. • Men should wait for a woman to extend her hand.culturewizard. Some industries and companies may have less stringent requirements. http://kpmg. • Have one side of your business card translated into French or Dutch.2017. • Many Belgians make assessments as to someone's level within their organization based upon the way they dress. • If you have meetings in both areas. greet the most senior person first. • Address people with their honorific title (Mijnheer (Mr. • Business men are expected to wear lace-up shoes. • Handshakes are firm and brief.aspx.. although there are variations depending upon job level and industry. 8. Business Cards • Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual.PrintView Page 27 of 43 • Shake hands with everyone at the start and completion of the meeting. men should wear dark-colored. • If there are several people present. Before embarking on an international trip. This shows respect and understanding of the linguistic heritage of your colleagues. • It is polite to repeat your name when being introduced. have two sets of business cards printed. As such.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. what we report is the conservative approach to business attire for a country. • Managing Directors are often referred to by their title alone. and individual organization culture. Business Attire The way a businessperson dresses conveys their professional image and their respect for the people with whom they conduct business.. Appropriate attire varies within countries based on location. it is generally a good idea to check with the local office to determine what the appropriate dress code is in a specific location. conservative business suits. • Present your business card so the recipient can read the side with their national language. event. . • Wait to be invited before moving to a first-name basis or using the personal form of the pronoun "you". • For the most part Belgians dress conservatively. • For the first meeting. • Women should wear business suits or conservative dresses.) in Flanders and Monsieur and Madame in Wollonia) in conjunction with the person's surname.) and Mevrouw (Mrs.

• If you are invited to a Belgian's house for dinner. Gifts Here are some general gift giving guidelines (but also check to be sure they comply with company policy): • Gift giving is not part of the business culture. you should as well. • Polished shoes are an integral part of a professional image. • If smart casual is acceptable. • Wait for your host to initiate business discussions. 8. . • Wait to see if the host offers a toast before sipping your drink. • An honored guest should return the toast later in the meal. • Business gifts may be given at the successful completion of negotiations. This is more likely to occur in Flanders. • It is acceptable for a woman to offer a toast. • Business lunches are the most common time for business entertainment. well-made clothes are important to establish your reputation as a professional. • The person who extends the invitation generally pays.2. If the person making the toast stands. • Business dinners are rare since evenings are family time. There is often a protocol to follow.PrintView Page 28 of 43 • Women may also wear elegant and discreet jewelry. clothes should be fashionable as well as neat and pressed.. Business Hours • Offices: 8:30am or 9:00am-5:30pm or 6:00pm Monday to Friday • Banks: 9:00am-4:00pm Monday-Friday http://kpmg.aspx.2017.culturewizard. Business Entertaining • Wait for the host to tell you where to sit. • Coffee table books make good gifts. • A dinner party or trip to a cultural event can also serve as a gift. • High quality.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView.. it is an honor and most likely will be a social rather than a business occasion. • Do not give anything with your company logo on it.

due to the strong respect for hierarchies. some shops may be open on Sunday morning. participants in a meeting will represent a variety of levels and technical disciplines.. Business Meetings Meeting Essentials • Structure: Agendas are part of the business culture. get consensus on a business issue.aspx. or communicate decisions that have been made. The Flemish have a more participative business culture. They are generally agreed to and distributed in advance so that all participants arrive well versed on the subject matter. where management is more participative. Agendas are followed without extraneous discussions. In the Flemish part of the country.. • Who participates/speaks: Participants are expected to arrive at the meeting well versed on the topic and ready to make concise statements. . and ensure that all items on the agenda are resolved. participants may be expected to reach a consensus whereas in the Walloon area lower-level participants only contribute if asked a direct question. By law shops are required to close one day during the week. This is a matter of personal preference rather than a cultural nuance. facilitate the discussion. Instead. set the pace. your Belgian counterparts will use the opportunity to size you up as a potential business associate and determine if they would be comfortable conducting business with you. • Who attends: Depending upon the corporate culture and subject matter. Some Belgians immediately begin the business discussion while others prefer a modicum of small talk before conducting business. 8.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. Mutual trust is important to Belgian businesspeople. business may not be discussed during the initial meeting. Since mutual trust is so important. if you have not done business in Belgium before. Therefore. • Purpose: Meetings may be held for a variety of reasons. make the introductions. they may use small talk as a way of developing a sense of who you are as a person.2017. review progress on a project. leaders are viewed as strong and take charge of meetings: they convene the meeting.2.PrintView Page 29 of 43 • Shops: 10:00am-6:00pm/7:00pm Monday to Saturday. where the leader is more situational where the leader is responsible for the current meeting and handles the duties expected of the chair.culturewizard. http://kpmg. They may be held to share information. • Role of Leader: In Walloon.

Avoid scheduling meetings during July and August. and it’s a good idea to reconfirm the meeting several days to a week in advance. since how can you be trusted to make a deadline if you are late for a meeting? Agendas http://kpmg. Scheduling Meetings Appointments are necessary and should be made several weeks in advance. Belgians prefer that meetings are structured and well-focused. .aspx. Expect it to take some time for this aloofness to wear off. it is common to conduct business meetings over meals or at a café. Agendas are generally distributed to all participants in advance of the meeting. Participants are expected to make brief comments that are to the point. As a rule. and empirical evidence. In the Flemish part of the country..com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. Belgians are methodical planners who prefer to know how much time will be devoted to the conversation.2. Business cases should be presented using facts. Belgians can be cautious around people that they do not know. Belgians like practical solutions and concrete ideas. 8. Quite often there will be a scheduled ending time for the meeting. Belgians are somewhat direct in their communications. fax or email. the week before Easter.2017. Everyone is expected to arrive on time. telephone and offer your apologies and an explanation. The person you are meeting will generally set the time for the meeting. and the week between Christmas and New Year. Personal feelings do not have a place in business. and feel it is important to communicate their thoughts as clearly as possible. figures.. If you will be more than 5 minutes late. Arriving late may brand you as unreliable.PrintView Page 30 of 43 Meetings are more formal than they are in many cultures. by telephone. Punctuality is important in a culture that prizes planning. There will be limited conversation aside from the direct business at hand. which are prime vacation times. This is less pronounced when doing business with Walloons.culturewizard. Direct communication is seen as part of the necessary process to achieve the best business outcome for all.

Relationships are important because they foster the sense of trust that is the foundation of business success.culturewizard. Belgians are more comfortable doing business with someone after they develop a sense of trust. They prefer communication to be logical and based on reason. There are many procedures and a great deal of paperwork. Business dealings tend to be bureaucratic. if any. Knowing the right people or having the http://kpmg. Business is not the place for emotions or feelings. they can make it easier to schedule meetings when have not previously done business with a specific company. Belgians are cautious and prudent when forming personal relationships. it may be seen as simplistic. They believe it is rude to be confrontational. Their approach to getting to know someone is deliberate and measured.2017. Belgians often engage in long.PrintView Page 31 of 43 • Send an agenda before the meeting. discussion of items not on the agenda. in a linear fashion. They will tell you what they think. Engaging in superficial and polite social conversations or accepting invitations to lunch can assist in relationship building. Management Styles Relationships Although third-party introductions are not a business necessity.. but they will do so with the utmost of charm and politeness. even if it is not what you want to hear. Although they are more direct in their communication than many cultures. Belgians do not like personal questions and do not want to know personal details about your life. Belgians like their meetings to be well focused and to know what will be covered. The person you are speaking with may need time to understand your words into their language. . believing that subtlety is a reflection of intelligence. critical discussions before reaching a decision so that they can be certain that they have considered all the alternatives. Conducting Meetings Belgians are excellent linguists and many are sufficiently fluent to conduct meetings in English.aspx. So. • Expect the agenda to be followed point-by-point. • There will be little. This does not mean that they are familiar with the latest idioms or expressions. 8. speak slowly. if a response is too direct. Belgians prefer subtlety to directness. This can be facilitated by dressing appropriately and being polite and diplomatic.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. if you are using English.2..

it takes time to ensure the change is agreed to by the group.PrintView Page 32 of 43 proper connections can facilitate cutting through the "red tape". Risk Tolerance Due to their conservative nature. There is an underlying belief that tradition is important. Expect Belgians to be formal and courteous. Change does not happen quickly in Belgium.. Since they are a private people. Company structure and view of hierarchy often vary depending upon if you are in Flanders or Wallonia.2017. http://kpmg. This makes sense when you consider the linguistic divide within the country as well as the strong regional differences. Belgians have a medium tolerance for change and risk. 8. They rely on rules and regulations to mitigate risk and avoid uncertainty.culturewizard. They adhere to established rules of protocol in most situations. More importantly. Belgians prefer to conduct business in person rather than over the phone. since compromise is the basic tenet of business. They respect corporate hierarchy and those who have attained a senior-level position. they rarely mix their private and business lives.. They prefer to take calculated risks where the recommendation conforms to accepted policies. practices and procedures. the Flemish will look for track records or historical data that outlines the benefits of what is being recommended whereas Walloons are equally concerned with past precedent.2. Although as a group Belgians avoid radical change.aspx. . they would be: • Hierarchical structure • Formal style • Controlled time • Direct communication Compromise is the objective of business in Belgium.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. Decision making tends to be slow since there is a need to find a solution that is workable for everyone involved. Management Essentials If you were to think about the most important cultural attributes see operating in business in Belgium.

The vast majority of the companies are small and family owned although there are over 1. missing a timetable brands someone as unprofessional or incompetent.. and is respected. Even though Belgians respect schedules and deadlines. Meeting deadlines is a matter of personal pride.PrintView Page 33 of 43 Schedules & Deadlines Belgium is a controlled-time culture where adherence to schedules and deadlines is expected.2.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. Until recently. Since they plan their work time judiciously. Belgians become irritated if someone with a more flexible view of time impacts their ability to complete a task. often visual. In Flanders. They dislike changing deadlines to accommodate the inability of someone else to make their commitments. Negative feedback is provided as needed. generally in a somewhat indirect manner so the employee is not embarrassed. Younger employees expect praise for a job well done and this is starting to shape the way management is practiced.000 multinational companies with offices in Belgium. Subordinates are expected to meet with others at their level and ensure that the proposal is acceptable to all parties.culturewizard. In general. http://kpmg. 8. This would be a sign that the person had not properly structured their work day.. organizations are flatter and many companies use a matrix system. Managing Employees Managers expect their subordinates to analyze available data. follow proper protocol. In Flanders. managers may discuss ideas with subordinates before reaching a final decision.aspx. . Rank has its privileges.2017. although this may be changing as more Generation X and Generation Y employees enter the workplace. the general belief was that an employee's performance met the accepted standard unless the manager stated otherwise. in private. This is less likely to occur in Wallonia. Impact of Generations on Managing Employees Positive feedback is not an integral part of the business culture. and complete the required paperwork before submitting a recommendation for review and approval. companies in Wallonia are more hierarchical and decision making is centralized in larger companies. employees seldom work late and or give up weekends in order to meet target deadlines. Decision Making Company Structure Company structure may vary by location.

Since they are analytical and seek compromise.PrintView Page 34 of 43 Decision Making In Flanders. including terms of address.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView.or consensus-focused. Where the negotiation takes place can materially impact how quickly the discussion starts. 8. decisions are group. business is more hierarchical and the top-ranking person makes decisions. Team Focus Belgians tend to be individualistic and prefer to work alone rather than on teams. It is rude to remove a suit jacket during a meeting. The Flemish prefer to get down to the issue quickly with minimal small talk or social interchange. It is important to observe appropriate business formalities. Group harmony must be developed between the team members. Pushing for an immediate decision is considered aggressive. Negotiations Belgians are polite and serious businesspeople.. to ensure that they have all the necessary information and background. although this is slowly changing since both Generation X and Generation Y employees expect to be praised for their achievements. They may do their own research. it is not necessary to praise the team or individual members. there is a strong need for diplomacy and compromise.aspx.culturewizard. In Wallonia.2.2017. Belgians want to analyze the facts and ensure that they understand possible unexpected outcomes. When put in a team environment. Since decision making occurs at the highest levels and each reviewing level is expected to verify that the matter has been researched thoroughly and that all stakeholders have been consulted. although they maintain their individual identity and succeed based on their individual initiative. Especially when the team is comprised of both Flemish and Walloons. decision making can be a time-consuming and laborious process. Walloons may be more interested http://kpmg. their gracious good manners come forth and they work collegially. Role allocation within the team is generally quite clearly defined. Impact of Generations on Team Focus Since good performance is expected. .. decision making is a slow process. in addition to what is provided.

aspx. Moving There Advice and Tips for Moving Customs Regulations Entry Requirements http://kpmg. Be prepared to back up any claims with substantiating data and supporting documentation. it is important that you maintain your composure and do not appear frustrated by what can seem like excessive focus on minute details.. Flemings negotiate in a structured and methodical manner by—discussing one item thoroughly before moving on to the next. Belgians are adept at finding compromises. Belgians can be tough negotiators. although they are not fond of haggling. it is best to follow the lead of the most senior Belgian as to when to commence the official discussions. Belgians do not appreciate hyperbole or claims that defy logical expectation. Walloons often move back and forth between topics rather than follow them in a logical sequence. due to their conservative approach to life and business. .com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView.PrintView Page 35 of 43 in developing a personal rapport so that they are certain that they want to have a long-term relationship with a specific company. Since they are naturally conservative.culturewizard. It is in your best interest to come to the table knowing where you might be able to make concessions. 8.2017.2. This is not a culture where hard sell techniques are effective. Therefore.. They expect both sides to come to the table with a fair proposal and to be able to reach agreement on areas of disagreement. Since they seek win-win solutions. expect negotiations to take time. If you are from a culture where decisions are reached more rapidly. although in general. Negotiations can be slightly quicker in Flanders.

this information is compiled for travelers in general and will apply in varying degrees to your destination and personal situation. Before You Go • Take time to get all of your financial and personal records in order.PrintView Page 36 of 43 Getting Around Getting There Safety & Security Emergency Numbers Emergency Telephone Numbers To reach emergency services from a local phone.. but ordinary crime. pickpockets and spontaneous political demonstrations. including preparing a will. With the exception of the emergency telephone numbers. weather and geographic problems also pose risks. dial: • Fire: 100 • Police: 101 • Ambulance: 100 Emergency Numbers Emergency Telephone Numbers To reach emergency services from a local phone. http://kpmg. The wise traveler is cautious about hurricanes and earthquakes along with hotel fires. we think of political situations as causing safety concerns. 8. dial: • Fire: 100 • Police: 101 • Ambulance: 100 Safety Precautions Today.2.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView.. Terrorist attacks and kidnappings have simply brought all security concerns to our awareness.2017.culturewizard.aspx. .

. 8. • Travel with a flashlight. • Women traveling alone will have different issues depending upon the morés of the society you’re visiting.2017. Know exactly where the nearest fire exits are. valuables and other important items. how to carry yourself. • Find out the services your company offers to you in case of emergency.how to dress. where you can go and where to avoid. a pair of shoes and some money by your bedside.culturewizard. (Remember to safeguard your passport. • In the event that you might need to leave your room quickly. ◦ Use a hotel known for its security and be sure that whatever type of transportation you use. don’t be afraid to ask. • Think about the small (and large) disasters that could occur at home during your absence and be sure there is someone prepared to assist you. • Don’t let strangers into your room. • Be sure someone knows where you will be and how to contact you in emergencies at all times. ◦ As a rule.aspx.. (They will also http://kpmg.) • Read the fire safety information and know what you would do if you need to evacuate. obtain and make several copies of important emergency company contact numbers to keep and give to all members of your family who might need them.2. ◦ Ask hotel concierge or front desk manager to assist you whenever you have questions about your safety. Be sure to learn details of your location -.PrintView Page 37 of 43 • Talk with a trusted family member or friend about what types of emergencies might arise in your absence. • Use the room safe or hotel safe deposit box. Hotel Safety • Know how to call for help AND what to say. keep your room key.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. • Hide personal documents. how to act in public. be extremely cautious and circumspect. • Lock your door and do not answer it until you feel comfortable that you know who it is. ◦ Find out all the gender-based restrictions and abide by them. When in comes to your safety. and who to be watchful of. • Make copies of all of your travel documents (including detailed itinerary with contact numbers) and be sure two people have easy access to them. it is reliable and safe. • Be sure you have enough of your prescription medication so you are all right if you cannot get a refill right away. Seek information from cultural experts and local nationals whom you have confidence in. your glasses (if necessary). and what to do in those events. In-Country So many variables go into being safe. • Do the same with crucial health documentation.. and many of them revolve around understanding the specifics of where you are. • Do not display your guest room key unnecessarily. take an extra pair of glasses if you wear them.

aspx. These people are here to help you. • Embassies Around the World • Even if you are living in a relatively safe country. This is not only wise for business and social purposes. • For helpful information: Helpful Tips • If you are living in a high-risk location. • Watch out for pickpockets who will try to distract you in many different ways while taking your money. certainly understand written and unwritten laws and codes of conduct. PDAs and cash are easy targets. For example.2. expensive cameras. your company should have guidelines for your safety.. 8. • The more you know about your location.. Keep informed—not only with your country’s published data and warnings.PrintView Page 38 of 43 arrange for you to have help. Be sure you have 24-hour hotline numbers and appropriate contacts who can assist you.culturewizard. reading local papers and telling your local friends to keep you informed. the safer you’ll be. if you wish walking you to your room very late at night or escorting you from a parking lot to the hotel lobby).com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView.2017. • No matter where you live—high risk or low risk countries—today’s world is volatile. Emergencies • In an emergency that requires help by your government. and you never know when a potentially dangerous situation can develop. such as a lost passport or the need for money because yours has been stolen. . • Use your Embassy. but is extremely important so you can understand what may be offensive or negligent behavior. The following websites offer specific advice for women: • Travel Tips for Women • Best Women's Travel Tips • Her Own Way: A Woman's Safe Travel Tips • Tips for Solo Women Travelers Women Travelers Travel Tips Crowded Situations • When you’re in crowded places. be very careful to guard your property at all times. • Carry as few valuable items with you as possible when you know you’re going to a crowded area. Safety in Your New Home City • Learn about your host country and culture. contact: Embassies Around the World http://kpmg. but by identifying sources of local news. always be sure that close family or friends have accurate contact information so they can find you quickly. Even groups of children can be working together to divert your attention while one will steal your money.

For example. Nonetheless..aspx. International SOS provides emergency medical and evacuation services for individuals and companies. You might want to contact: International SOS to see if you qualify for some of their services.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. keep enough cash on hand so you will be all right if there are power failures and ATM machines don’t work. practicing common sense based upon knowledge of your location will help you. Emergencies • In an emergency that requires help by your government. With the exception of the emergency telephone numbers.culturewizard. . we recommend the following government sites as quite comprehensive and easy-to- understand: Australian Travel Advisories Canadian Travel Advisories UK Travel Advice US Travel Warnings • Read about other precautions you should take for weather. http://kpmg. International SOS provides emergency medical and evacuation services for individuals and companies. Prepare For Your Destination • Read about security and safety issues in the countries you’ll be traveling to or living in. this information is compiled for travelers in general and will apply in varying degrees to your destination and personal situation. such as a lost passport or the need for money because yours has been stolen.2. 8. • For the most current.2017. You might want to contact: International SOS to see if you qualify for some of their services. Always check to see what services your company may offer to you.PrintView Page 39 of 43 • Make sure you know the name of the firm your company has selected for medical emergencies and evacuation services. contact: Embassies Around the World • Make sure you know the name of the firm your company has selected for medical emergencies and evacuation services.. nor is it a stroke of luck. Keeping yourself and your family safe anywhere you go—whether it is an extended trip within hours of your home or a long-term assignment halfway around the world—requires planning and active follow-through. Security Issues Security is not simply a state-of-mind. Clearly the length of time you spend and the geographic and political profile of the countries you’re living in--or traveling to--will make a difference in your level of preparedness. Don’t underplay the importance of understanding what is culturally appropriate—it may help you avoid some difficult situations. up-dated information.and geographic-related concerns.

read safety literature and be sure you know where emergency exits are located. credit cards and other valuables. State Dept. phone and hours of operation. • Do not leave laptops.2017. report it immediately to the nearest appropriate Embassy or consulate. • Learn about transportation in your location—what’s safe and what can be problematic and when. Contact your Embassy for detailed information. computer bags or other luggage unattended at any time. When they occur.gov/travel/ Moving Around Safely • Always remain alert.. Be sure you know the words to use in the local language. http://kpmg. • Ostentatious jewelry will also draw attention to you. • Be sure to respond completely to requests by security officials and avoid comments about security that could be misinterpreted. • When you’re on the plane or train. En Route • Protect your passport. If it is lost or stolen. The U.. Attire you may think is perfectly acceptable. • Whenever possible carry valuables and important prescription medications in your carry-on luggage. it is one of the most valuable items you possess--so protect it as you would cash. . Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has in- depth information regarding all regions of the world. Be sure you know how to call for help in an emergency. • Dress conservatively. the U. You may need to reach the police.culturewizard. subways. • Be able to answer questions about your luggage and be able to open all suitcases and packages immediately.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. • Avoid calling attention to yourself by wearing fancy jewelry or carrying other expensive items. quickly walk the other way. fire and other emergency personnel. Find out before you go if it is preferable to hire a private driver and car. offers a wide-range of information to travelers of all nationalities: http://www.aspx.state. you could run the risk of being misinterpreted and perhaps becoming a target if your clothing is provocative or offensive.2. Otherwise. independent taxi cabs may pose specific problems.PrintView Page 40 of 43 • Be sure you know how to contact (and get to) your country’s Embassy and Consulate wherever you are traveling—you need the location details. • Use your business address on your luggage tags. buses. Embassies Around the World • See if there are any health-related issues in the countries to which you’re traveling. do not pack valuables in your checked luggage. 8.S. if asked. • For general information when you are en route. • Avoid disturbances and loud arguments. if possible. may not be so you’ll be well served to learn what is appropriate. Trains.S. Your interpretation of this guideline needs to be based on local practices and customs.

you may feel safer moving to an occupied car. • Be sure to know enough of the language to call for help. • Even when you have a mobile phone. Know Where You’re Going • Ask people in the hotel what areas you should avoid.S. • Experts say that if someone does attack you. Transportation Security Administration Settling In Accommodation Arrival Procedures http://kpmg. ask colleagues or people who work in the hotel if there are things you should know about that area.2017. Consider marking and tagging the pages of a phrase book with these types of important phrases. and deserted train stations. • If you drive. 8. such as poorly- lit streets.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView. and never pick up hitchhikers.aspx. give them your valuables—money and passport—and do not fight back. *Sources: U. even when you’re going to business appointments. Get off if someone suspicious gets on. learn to use the local pay phones and keep change with you. carry the card of your hotel or your address with you at all times--as well as your destination address. Identify the location of the emergency alarm system. • If you cannot speak the local language. .. • When you have a specific location you’re going to. • If you find yourself alone in a train car or compartment after everyone else leaves.. alleys. • Be wary when you are alone in lifts.2. keep your doors locked and windows closed.culturewizard. • Make others aware of your specific whereabouts. • Avoid areas where you can become a victim of crime.PrintView Page 41 of 43 • You should also ask your company about specific transportation guidelines they’ve established for your safety.

2017.2..com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView..PrintView Page 42 of 43 Conversions Eating Out Entertainment Family Corner Health and Safety Media Money and Banking Nightlife Shopping http://kpmg.culturewizard.aspx. 8. .

.culturewizard.. .2017.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView.aspx. 8.PrintView Page 43 of 43 Social Clubs Sports http://kpmg.2.