A Decade of Strategy Trends

For ten years, Berenschot’s Strategy Trends Survey has provided insight into the strategic vision of enterprises in the Netherlands. From a Q&A round among CEOs present at one of Michael Porter’s seminars in 2007, the report developed into a multi-faceted survey among over 500 different Dutch companies. Throughout the years, this created an enormous database about the changing strategic choices of Dutch businesses. This wealth of data provides interesting insights on how strategic choices change under the influence of a changing environment relating to many subjects. 

GDP and Revenue growth expectations for companies in the Netherlands and International Distinctive features for 10 years Strategic Issues for 10 years

Strategy Trends Downloads

2007 (nl)       2008 (nl)      2009 (en)       2010 (en)       2011 (nl)       2012 (en)       2013 (en)       2014 (nl)      2015 (nl)       2016 (en)

In accordance with the economic dip in 2012 and 2013, the growth expectations of Dutch companies plummeted. Now that the economy is showing growth again, the Dutch CEOs are adjusting the outlook. Relating to sales in the Netherlands, the forecast is above the pre-dip sales figures, and almost 75% of Dutch CEOs is also expects growth in foreign markets. Dutch companies, after years of uncertainty, seem to cautiously start looking forward again, with a positive outlook about new opportunities, both at home and abroad. 

For the past years, if companies wanted to distinguish themselves from their competitors, they mainly focused on the quality of the product or service they provided. However, an increasing number of sectors also choose to distinguish themselves from their competitors based on innovation. Innovation is gaining importance throughout the Netherlands, and after all those years, it might even dethrone quality as the first resort for Dutch companies to distinguish themselves.

Service falling down the list is also interesting. A decreasing number of companies choose to distinguish themselves based on their (customer) service. Service seems to have been replaced by more customer-driven production methods in an increasing number of sectors. Co-design and co-production are increasingly important, and providing customisation is now in the top 3. Service does not disappear, but is integrated in more intensive collaboration with the customer. Another interesting shift is the decrease in importance of price. It seems that the popularity of price as a competitive advantage is moving in tune with the economic development in the Netherlands.

In the perspective of trends from 2007 onwards, one subject has remained in the top 3 every single year: innovation. Where the current number 1, reputation and corporate reputation, had been in a much lower place on the agenda in previous years, innovation has always been a hot item for the CEOs. This shows the importance of innovation for Dutch companies. Both as a strategic issue, and as is apparent this year, increasingly as the element of choice that companies use to distinguish themselves from the competition. In previous years, competition was also high on the agenda, and the business model needed significant improvements. Now that the internal organisation is in order, the business model no longer features on the agenda, with companies looking forward again. 

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S trategy Trends: 

Justin van der Starre

Gerben van den Berg

Douwe Suesan

Ruben Stukart