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Interview with Huib Wursten;
trainer international corporate culture – intercultural management

Nov 18, 2021


Huib (79) has given Intercultural management and expat training at companies for 35 years of his working life.


His main clients were:

IBM ; he worked at the IBM HQ Learning Center in Armonk – Westchester NY. Clash between “Straight talk in USA vs. Indirect communication in many other cultures”

3M ; USA chemicals and office supply in Minneapolis-Minn. As an international house consultant for setting up European business units. Central: leadership and decision-making.

IMF in Washington. With 160 cultures. In particular about Expectations and Behavior in meetings: ways of participation; how to give input; how to have influence.


He has also supervised foreign lecturers from the UvA and HvA.


Advisor to many HRM departments of international companies.

Huib's practices:

  • Training before deployment/at the start? No, it doesn't make much sense, because then one is in a euphoric, adventurous mood. Much better to give training after a few months after culture shock.

  • The more people interact with each other, the more culturally specific preferences become clear and conscious. As a result, tendency to set oneself against the other group(s)

  • Clashes of cultures lead to avoidance of each other and sometimes even group/organization breakup

  • The main topic should be: what are the characteristics of Dutch culture and how do they relate to the characteristics of other cultures


Huib's suggestions for my research:

  • Make an expat top 10

  • List the benefits experienced by expats in Amsterdam

  • List the benefits Amsterdam has from expats

  • List the failures/problems of expats in Amsterdam

  • List the failures/problems that Amsterdam has due to expats

  • Find out how the HRM department of Amsterdam companies deals with the reception and guidance of expats/foreign employees


Difference between Dutch and foreign companies:

Dutch companies often do not have a career plan for their employees; often no special route for high potentials. Foreign companies do. EN: Individual must determine their own career path. Management Development in the Netherlands usually focuses on better functioning in the current job. Abroad, often aimed at preparing for the next career step.


Motivation varies by culture:

Indians, for example, want to make a career, become a boss; see how many people you have under you.

The Dutch want autonomy within the “TOKO:

Huib has worked together with IBI = International Business Improvement BV in Hilversum of Ursula Brinkmann, among others. They focus on the “assessment of 4 person characteristics: the Intercultural Readiness Check, an intercultural self-assessment questionnaire capturing vital intercultural competences.”

IBI has helped the AUAS to set up an international campus


Message from Huib: dealing flexibly with different cultures: “different strokes to different folks”


Municipality of Amsterdam has City Promotion plan; mn IAmsterdam helps expats.

Fernando Lanzer is involved in this; he provides expat training with his own agency on assessments / competences / socializing. His phone number: 06-34 89 41 65


Amsterdam has several International Student Associations:

  • AEGEE = Association of European Students; sits in 220 college towns; has about 550 members in Amsterdam. Organizes weekly drinks, etc. Sits on Roeterseiland; Nieuwe Achtergracht 170 (= CREA building)


  • ESN is a student-run non-profit organization dedicated to helping international students studying at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA) make the most of their stay in the Netherlands. Also located in CREA building.


Jaap Draaisma

Amsterdam, December 3, 2021

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