Baldrige Standards for Performance Excellence


In the business world, the realization of business excellence is pivotal towards fostering the success of an enterprise. In this respect, business organizations need to engage in actions that facilitate performance excellence. The areas of business operations that need a considerable extent of excellence include customer satisfaction, workforce fulfillment, operations efficiency, and business growth. The need for continuous improvement influences business managers to adopt the suitable performance excellence models. The Baldrige Excellence Framework is one of the most sought-after performance excellence models that drive the success of businesses in different sectors (Dahlgaard et al. 2013). The model mainly focuses on bolstering performance excellence by improving the business aspects of leadership, strategic planning, customer supervision, workforce administration, knowledge management, and operations focus (Fan & Lu 2014). Business organizations need to focus on improving the performance of the mentioned aspects to realize significant excellence in their respective industries. In this light, this paper interprets the Baldrige Model by focusing on its evolution and the application of the framework’s operations criteria to facilitate performance excellence.

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In the mid-1980s, leaders in the United States saw the need for companies in the country to concentrate on quality as a way of enhancing their competitiveness. The need for quality also sought to fulfill the desire to meet the demands of the expanding global market. In this concern, Malcolm Baldrige, the Secretary of Commerce at that time, underlined the need for companies to integrate quality improvement in their processes (Bandyopadhyay & Leonard 2016). Baldrige identified quality improvement as a key factor that would enhance the prosperity and sustainability of American companies.

In 1987, the Congress established the Award Program, which was named after Malcolm Baldrige, following his demise in a road accident. Through the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act of 1987, President Reagan, the US former president, created the bipartisan program to facilitate the development of world-class management criteria that would facilitate the revitalization of the American economy (Hossain & Prybutok 2014). Through the Baldrige Excellence Framework, American countries would uphold the essence of operating in ways that would bolster their competitiveness in the expanding markets.

Over the years, the Baldrige Performance Framework has seen an expansion of its scope in different sectors. In 1999, the US facilitated the integration of the performance excellence model in the education sector. The approach sought to improve the performance of schools besides underlining the essence of teacher efficiency. In 2009, government agencies, as well as non-profit organizations, started applying the Baldrige Model to enhance organizational performance through continuous improvement (Karimi et al. 2014).

Important to note, the Congress developed the Baldrige Award program to facilitate the identification and recognition of the role-model businesses. Additionally, the Baldrige Award program concentrated on the establishment of criteria for the assessment of improvement milestones in the public and private sectors. Moreover, the Congress saw the relevance of fostering the dissemination and sharing of the best practices that could account for the realization of performance excellence. Overall, the development of the Baldrige Model has been central in influencing businesses to uphold practices that improve their performance in the highly competitive public and private sectors.

Literature Summary

The Acknowledgment of the Need for Quality Improvement

The 1980s marked a period that underlined the significance of quality in organizations. As a response, government and industry leaders identified the need for integrating quality improvement into various businesses in the US. The expansion of the world market, as well as the increasing competitiveness of industrial players, called for the incorporation of measures that would see American companies become prosperous and sustainable amid the increased competitiveness. In this regard, the US leaders showed commitment to establishing a system that recognizes organizations in the fields of business, education, interpretation, and the non-profit-making segment. Since only the US President gives the award, the Baldrige Award formally recognizes public and private organizations that demonstrate exceptional performance excellence (Miguel 2015).

In August 20, 1987, the signing of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act into law set the ground for organizations to embrace practices that could promote continuous improvement. At this time, Jack Grayson, the chair of the National Productivity Advisory Committee, spearheaded the creation of the model. Grayson is also credited for promoting the embracement of the Baldrige framework after founding the APQC, a non-profit research institution that focuses on performance excellence in different organizations. In 1987, through APQC, Grayson lobbied for the formation of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award during the first White House Conference on Productivity (Hossain & Prybutok 2014).The Baldrige Award program is viewed as an excellence-based standard that can assist organizations in the US to uphold the essence of quality in the entire organizational processes.

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Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Framework

The need for establishing an implementation framework for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award required the pioneering director, Dr. Curt Reimann, to mobilize resources at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The staff at the institution focused on developing a comprehensive evaluation scheme that would enhance the functionality of the performance excellence model. Additionally, the team established proposals that sought to advance the Baldrige Award program (Rusev & Salonitis 2016). The proposals influenced the shortening of the program’s name from Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award to the Baldrige Award.

During the first three years, the APQC and with the American Society for Quality (ASQ) oversaw the management of the Baldrige Award. Later, the NIST contracted the ASQ to administer the Baldrige Award, a role it plays up to date. The ASQ has a considerable history of advocating for quality improvement practices in the industrial sector. During World War 2, ASQ influenced security agencies in ways that fostered the sustainability of quality-improvement strategies (Brown 2014). In the contemporary organizational environments, the ASQ advocates for the promotion and advancement of quality tools, principles, and practices at the workplace environment to cultivate excellence. As such, the NIST requires organizations that focus on the mentioned aspects of excellence to realize recognition through the Baldrige Award.

For three decades, the Baldrige Excellence Framework has unceasingly empowered organizations to fulfill their missions, improve outcomes, and foster competitiveness. Figure 1 below shows the Baldrige Excellence Framework.

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Framework
Source: (Bandyopadhyay & Leonard 2016).

The Role of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Framework

The framework provides organizations with core values and concepts, as well as evaluation guidelines that focus on performance improvement. Evidently, over the years, the model focuses on encouraging businesses to engage in improvement practices besides upholding the essence of innovation to bolster the attainment of positive outcomes (Huffstutler & Thomsen 2015). The model fosters improvement and innovation by supporting the creation of an incorporated performance management structure for use in self-assessment.

Annually, up to 18 Baldrige Awards may be granted to organizations in different sectors (Terouhid et al. 2016). Important to note, the award is not biased to organizations that produce particular products or services. The notable categories for eligibility include small businesses, service, manufacturing, healthcare, education, and non-profit-making companies (Griffith 2017). By so doing, the award facilitates the promotion of awareness regarding performance excellence as an integral feature of competitiveness in different sectors. Besides, the annual award helps in sharing information concerning the fruitful performance strategies besides demonstrating the benefits that organizations can derive from using the recommended strategies.

Currently, for an organization to receive the Baldrige Award, it should demonstrate the application of a role-model organizational system that denotes an unceasing improvement in the offering of products and services (Fan & Lu 2014). The organization should also show efficiency and effectiveness in its operations. The way in which an organization offers opportunities for customer engagement, as well as response to the concerns of customers and other important stakeholders, is a criterion that affects its chances of getting the Baldrige Award. Peng and Prybutok (2015) assert that the Baldrige Model has encountered the relevant adaptations over the years, thereby fostering its effectiveness in gauging the performance of organizations in diverse fields. Importantly, the categories of the Baldrige Model support its theoretical framework that underlines the essence of unceasing quality improvement in the organizational setting.

However, the area of quality management continues to face changes that call for positive alterations of quality practices. In this respect, the evolution of quality concepts has the potential of influencing the Baldrige Excellence Framework (Ringrose 2013). Notably, new quality management concepts identify customer delight as an important factor that demonstrates performance excellence. In this light, a shift from the traditional performance excellence indicators is witnessed, including quality standard achievement and meeting customer needs, as well as satisfaction, to the realization of consumer delight (Yang 2013). In this view, Yang (2017) points out that the loyalty of the customer is one of the factors that denote the competitiveness of an organization. Therefore, if a company creates delight among its customers, it has a greater chance of dominating the market, thereby denoting its performance excellence.

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Notably, the establishment of the Baldrige Excellence Framework sought to boost the quality management aspect of administering organizations in different fields (Akyuz 2015). For this reason, the US government saw the importance of developing a framework that would underscore the need for industrial players to adopt practices that foster their competitiveness in the continually expanding global markets. The necessity gave rise to the Baldrige Award that acknowledges organizations that demonstrate excellence in the aspects of leadership, operations, knowledge management, strategic planning, customer management, and workforce engagement (Brown 2014). In this respect, the operations of organizations in the various sectors need to focus on meeting the standards of Baldrige Excellence Framework, thus realizing prosperity and sustainability in the domestic and international markets.

The operations criteria of the Baldrige excellence system is one of the important elements of the integrated model. Notably, the Baldrige Excellence Framework underlines the need for organizations to demonstrate the role-model process efficiency (Karimi et al. 2014). The operations criteria take into account the essence of innovation, the implementation of processes, developing process and system design, the determination of work process, and the integration of suppliers and partners (Oakland 2014). In this view, organizations that demonstrate a streamlined operations focus increase their chances of realizing operations excellence.

For company X, dealing in the production and delivery of women’s handbags to attain the Baldrige Award, it needs to show a considerable excellence in the performance of its operations. Importantly, the organization needs to establish a meaningful relationship and collaboration with the suppliers of leather materials, as well as partners in the business to streamline the flow of inputs required in the production process. Besides, the company X is required to determine the appropriate work processes to minimize the waste of time and resources. Furthermore, the need for effectiveness in the operations of company X prompts it to consider the appropriateness of its system and process design.

Company X also needs to engage in quality improvement initiatives in the organizations to improve the outcomes of operations. In this case, the management team needs to identify the areas that require improvement, thus developing a plan for change before implementation. The implementation process also needs to consider the possibility of resistance, a considerable hindrance of positive change in an organization (Vercic et al. 2016). In this light, company X should encourage the workforce to embrace change that would improve the business operations, thus yielding positive results. The engagement of customers in the designing of work processes and systems is also another criterion of the Baldrige Excellence Framework. Thus, it would heighten the chances of company X getting the Baldrige Award.

Apart from concentrating on operations focus, company X is also required to incorporate other elements of the Baldrige Excellence Framework. Evidently, the framework assesses the degree to which the leadership of an organization offers guidance for the sustenance of the administration approach. Additionally, the framework also examines the strategic targets of the organization and the actions put in place to achieve the set objectives and goals. The performance model also monitors the level of workforce and customer engagement for improving the processes involved in the delivery of quality offerings to customers. The management of knowledge is also a consideration for a company to win the Baldrige Award. The results achieved by the organization also attract the consideration of the Baldrige Model since it denotes the competitiveness of an organization with respect to the realization of set targets.


Primarily, the establishment of the Baldrige Excellence Framework in 1987 concentrated on revitalizing the American economy by underscoring the need for businesses to engage in practices that bolster competitiveness in their respective industries. Importantly, President Reagan’s administration prioritized the need for promoting the growth of the US companies locally and domestically by embracing practices that promoted excellent performance. The realization of performance excellence implies that organizations need to focus on improving the quality of leadership, strategic management, customer engagement and satisfaction, workforce management, knowledge management, and operations (Dahlgaard et al. 2013). The improvements account for the growth of different industries that operate domestically and internationally, thereby strengthening the overall economy.

The operations focus criteria of performance excellences assesses the degree to which an organization plans, manages, improves, and innovates its products or services and work processes. The criteria of operations focus also gauge the extent to which an organization enhances operational effectiveness to offer customer value and/or attain continuous organizational prosperity (Peng & Prybutok 2015). Therefore, an organization upholding operations focus should effectively design, manage, improve, and innovate the processes associated with the production and delivery of products to the intended consumers. The production and delivery of world-class products and services to consumers is a depiction of performance excellence in the area of operations.

Besides meeting the operations focus criteria, an organization seeking to achieve exemplary performance needs to integrate the other criteria of the model, including leadership, strategy, customer focus, workforce, focus, results, and the management of knowledge (Huffstutler & Thomsen 2015). The entire aspects of the Baldrige Excellence Framework need to be considered since the award program evaluates the performance of the organization in the different categories.

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The leadership criteria require business leaders to demonstrate actions that facilitate the effective governance of the organization. Additionally, it is important for the leadership of an organization to uphold the essence of ethical operations. The observation of ethics in an organization goes a long way in offering benefits to the stakeholders (Metaxas & Koulouriotis 2014). Additionally, the Baldrige Excellence Framework requires the leadership of the organization to operate in ways that uphold the relevant legal provisions. Moreover, there is a need for leaders of organizations in different fields to initiate activities that promote the development of communities in which they operate. Engaging in corporate social responsibility is one of the ways a leader can demonstrate the need for an organization’s performance of its community responsibilities.

The strategic planning component of the Baldrige Excellent Framework seeks to instill the essence of establishing strategic directions. Besides setting strategic directions, the organization also needs to create a key action plan to facilitate the implementation of the identified strategies. The setting of strategic plans is useful since it facilitates the creation of actions that foster the expansion and competitiveness of an organization in the end.

Essentially, the customer focus category of the Baldrige Excellence Framework underlines the need for organizations to engage their customers, thus realizing a greater market share in the long run. In this respect, the organization needs to listen to the customer’s voice besides building meaningful relationships. As a result, the course of customer engagement provides the organization with crucial information it can apply in the improvement and identification of opportunities for innovation.

The Baldrige Excellence Framework also underlines the need for a business to effectively manage its knowledge assets. The field of knowledge management is important for business excellence since it enhances the processes of identifying, acquiring, managing information, data, and knowledge (Latham 2013). The integration and management of information technology in an organization is also a key determination of an organization success in knowledge management.

Moreover, an organization needs to meet the workforce focus standard by creating an environment that builds the capacity of employees to meet the desired outcomes. Besides, the workforce criteria underline the need for organizations to concentrate on the engagement, management, and development of employees to foster the utilization of the organization’s full potential while at the same time aligning their capabilities with the organization’s business needs (Griffith 2017). The incorporation of the mentioned criteria facilitates the realization of the results aspect of the Baldrige Excellence Framework.


The Baldrige Excellence Framework is a crucial model of boosting the performance of an organization. Since its creation in 1987, the framework is still applicable in different sectors to boost the performance of organizations. The critical components of the model include leadership, customer focus, workforce focus, knowledge management, process operations, strategic planning, and results. For organizations to realize impressive performance and excellence, they need to integrate the features of the Baldrige Model to facilitate continuous improvement.

Reference List

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