31 May 2012

A Dutch thing or a human condition?

Laws and contracts are sometimes vague (incomplete contracts) or enforced at the discretion of an official (principal-agent incentives).

The Dutch are great traders who may have a stronger familiarity with sticking with contracts when it suits them -- and ignoring them when it does not.

I can see this in the way that some Dutch will stop at a red light (on a bike) and wait, even when there's nobody there. Other Dutch will not.

I can see this in the say that some rules are ruthlessly reinforced -- even when there's social gain from allowing the rule to lapse -- because it suits someone, while other rules are flaunted...

Does this have to do with trade and sharp dealing? Does it have to do with moral ambiguity? Does it happen more with the Dutch and other trading cultures on sea coasts (e.g., the Mediterranean) and less with landlocked nations that are more inward looking?

Your thoughts?
Addendum (27 May 2013): It seems that they Dutch are tolerant if (1) there's a profit to be made, (2) lawbreaking is done quietly and (3) nobody gets hurt.