Qualitative case studies of two Japanese multinational department stores in Hong Kong are used to illustrate possible blocking mechanisms and collective myopia that hinder Japanese expatriate managers in acquiring double-loop organizational learning in their international assignments. Four major blocking mechanisms were identified - parent company community spirit, dozoku inhabitants, parent company's translators and desire for normality. These blocking mechanisms were related to the Japanese head office's culture, ideology and desire to control. They inhibited the expatriates from challenging established practices, procedures and norms, prevented them from becoming knowledgeable human agents, and hindered them from forming reflexivity. The expatriates, as a result, failed to learn from their international assignments. A conceptual model for expatriate learning and blocking mechanisms is drawn from the case examples, and implications for improving expatriate management to strengthen organizational learning are discussed. Copyright © 2005 SAGE Publications.