Purpose: The purpose of this research study was to examine the international transfer of kaizen or continuous improvement. The central research question was formulated as: what national level factors influence the transfer of kaizen, and how? Design/methodology/approach: In the study, a survey interview was followed with semi-structured interviews. The study focused on Japanese subsidiaries in The Netherlands. A total of 15 companies participated in the research. Findings: Two main national level factors, not previously identified in the literature, were found: the level of eagerness of employees and the level of discipline of employees. It was also found that, based on these two factors, transferring kaizen to The Netherlands is very challenging. Research limitations/implications: The research was limited to kaizen transfer from Japan to The Netherlands. Practical implications: Companies benefit from this research because it contributes to understanding the relative ease of transferring kaizen. Having this understanding aids companies with planning the transfer of kaizen and its implementation. Originality/value: Several studies have examined the international transfer of kaizen and/or the international transfer of Japanese management systems. Some studies have identified national level factors as being important but understanding of how and why the factors play a role has been underdeveloped. Furthermore, companies are still struggling with the international transfer of kaizen. This study on kaizen transfer found two previously unidentified key factors, the reasons for their occurrence, and how they influence the transfer. This allows an improved understanding.