The Netherlands and the Polder Model
Endless rounds of meetings are not everybody’s ideal of efficient decision-making: but in the Netherlands since a hallmark event, the 1982 tripartite agreement on macro-economic policy between the Dutch government, employers’ organisations and the labour unions, institutionalised talks are considered the warp and the weft of the country’s social fabric and the key to its economic success. The Wassenaar Accord has come to represent a supposedly typical Dutch way of dealing with major issues confronting society through slow processes of consensus building in which parties learn to give and take. In a curious transposition of a stereotype formerly favoured only by tourists, the terms ‘polderen’ or ‘poldermodel’ for such processes betray their presumed origin, the need to weld very different social groups together in the country’s running battle against flooding.
Joost Jonker
BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review 129 (1) 88-89

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