2014 Strategy Trends

The CEO’s agenda
Roel van Lanen and Wieke Ambrosius
Utrecht: Berenschot, 2014
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For a printed copy, please e-mail Wieke Ambrosius .


What are the key preoccupations of enterprises in the Netherlands over the coming year? What strategic decisions are being taken in boardrooms across the country? What are the prognostications for 2014? All questions to which you will find the answers in the 8th Berenschot Strategy Trends Survey. One thing is certain: we want to grow again. Enlarging the sales market and achieving growth in revenues are at the top of the agenda. These and other strategic challenges are discussed in Chapter 2. The third chapter describes how this desired growth is going to be achieved. What are the strategic directions chosen by Dutch entrepreneurs/CEOs, how do they want to differentiate themselves from competitors and how are they going to increase revenues over the coming year?

To give you a sneak preview: generally the decision is to adopt a strategy in which the key focus is on the client relationship; quality and innovation are the primary differentiating factors and revenues will be increased by tapping new market segments. The subsequent chapters explore a number of strategic themes in further depth, including innovation, collaboration, internationalisation, financing, clients and leadership. Innovation is a high priority, but investments in R&D are often lower than one would expect from companies that want to differentiate themselves on the basis of quality and innovation (Chapter 4). Collaboration should not be excessively binding and is primarily effected via participation in networks and alliances (Chapter 5).

In terms of the international domain, expectations are high, although there appears to be greater realism in the promise of the international market (Chapter 6). Growth requires money. More than half of participating companies will therefore be looking for new financing over the coming year. This will not only be effected via traditional forms of financing, such as shareholders’ equity and bank loans, but increasingly more often via alternative financing opportunities, such as private equity and crowd-funding (Chapter 7). The issue then is whether current clients are given sufficient attention in the push for growth and innovation (Chapter 8). In spite of cautious positive prospects, margins remain under pressure. To increase profitability, companies are reviewing their product portfolio and looking for more profitable client segments on the one hand. On the other hand, greater efficiency and process optimisation must produce the required cost reductions (Chapter 9). Finally, the greatest challenge in the area of Human Capital is leadership: how does an organisation (and its leaders) inspire the activities of the people who work there (Chapter 10).

The way in which strategic decisions are made is the key theme of Chapter 11. What does the strategy process look like and who is involved in it? There are challenges in conducting future explorations (what are our options as an organisation in terms of anticipating the future) and achieving the adopted strategy. The publication concludes with an outlook (Chapter 12). There appears to be moderate optimism both among the participants in this survey and among economists. The crisis appears to have bottomed out. Investments have once again been increasing for years and although many structural changes are still required, more and more positive signs are slowly emerging. The expectation is that the labour market will bottom out in 2014 and will subsequently start to improve again.

Strategy Trends 2014_Omslag