Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,710,190 articles and books

The Baldrige Award: a quest for excellence?

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is given by the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology. Through the actions of the National Productivity Advisory Committee chaired by Jack Grayson, it was established by the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality  is the business equivalent of the Academy Award or the Pulitzer Prize Pulitzer Prize

Any of a series of annual prizes awarded by Columbia University for outstanding public service and achievement in American journalism, letters, and music. Fellowships are also awarded.
. Named for the Reagan-era Secretary of Commerce who died in 1987, the Award is part of a national campaign to improve the quality of products and services in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . It promotes awareness about the importance of Total Quality Management (TQM (Total Quality Management) An organizational undertaking to improve the quality of manufacturing and service. It focuses on obtaining continuous feedback for making improvements and refining existing processes over the long term. See ISO 9000. ) and recognizes quality achievements of U.S. companies. The aim of the Baldrige Baldrige may refer to:
  • Howard Malcolm Baldrige (1894 – 1985), U. S. Representative from Nebraska.
  • Howard Malcolm Baldrige, Jr. (1922 – 1987), commonly referred to as Malcolm Baldridge or "Mac" Baldrige; United States Secretary of Commerce. Son of H.
 Award is to encourage companies (1) to emphasize quality so they can compete more effectively in the global market and (2) to share successful strategies on quality.

The purpose of this article is to describe and provide insights about the Baldrige Award. Specifically, the article covers the Award's guidelines guidelines, a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks.
, its procedures, its winners circle, and its pros and cons pros and cons
Noun, pl

the advantages and disadvantages of a situation [Latin pro for + con(tra) against]
. This information is basic knowledge for members of the business community.

What is Quality?

Every time someone buys a product or service, he or she is reminded of how critical quality has become in today's world. Nobody wants a car that falls short of perfection Perfection
Giotto’s O

perfect circle drawn effortlessly by Giotto. [Ital. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 463]

golden mean

or section
. Nor does anyone like to settle for poor service from an airline, a store, or a bank. Quality is becoming the biggest competitive issue of the late 20th century. Although there are several definitions of quality, they all basically boil down boil 1  
v. boiled, boil·ing, boils

a. To change from a liquid to a vapor by the application of heat:
 to one issue--customer satisfaction (Shepard Shep·ard   , Alan Bartlett, Jr. 1923-1998.

American astronaut who on a 15-minute flight on May 5, 1961, became the first American in space. He also commanded the Apollo 14 mission to the moon (1971).

Noun 1.
 1991, 4).

Corporate America now America Now is a former politics and business TV program on CNBC with Lawrence Kudlow and Jim Cramer.

The program's name was later changed to Kudlow & Cramer.
America Now: the Anthropology of a Changing Culture was the original title of
 realizes that providing internal and external customers with quality products and services is the only way to survive in today's global market. Therefore, the focus is on TQM--managing the entire organization to excel in all the dimensions of its products and services that are important to current and potential customers.

In John Guaspari's fable about quality, I Know It When I See It The phrase "I know it when I see it" is a colloquial expression by which the user attempts to categorize an observable fact or event, although the category is subjective or lacks clearly-defined parameters.  (1985), the Boss goes through months of work, frustration, and bewilderment be·wil·der·ment  
1. The condition of being confused or disoriented.

2. A situation of perplexity or confusion; a tangle: a bewilderment of lies and half-truths.

Noun 1.
 while trying to figure out why his product was rapidly losing market share. When surveyed, customers repeatedly told the Boss their definition of quality: "I know it when I see it." Finally the Boss realizes that all the specifications, tight tolerances, and inspection stickers mean nothing compared to the customer's expectations. The customer is only interested in the answer to one simple question: "Did the product do what I expected it to do?" If the answer is yes, then it is a quality product.

When relative quality is achieved, that differential becomes a competitive weapon. Companies embracing quality have been found to hold a competitive edge of up to 10 cents per dollar of sales (Hammonds and DeGeorge 1991, 35). Quality products increase productivity (due to less rework re·work  
tr.v. re·worked, re·work·ing, re·works
1. To work over again; revise.

2. To subject to a repeated or new process.

 and wasted management time), increase market share (by attracting and retaining more customers), and increase profitability.

Managing for quality is not easy. It requires active, unwavering leadership from the CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. , organization change, employee involvement, and time. The Baldrige Award has been established to promote quality awareness and publicize pub·li·cize  
tr.v. pub·li·cized, pub·li·ciz·ing, pub·li·ciz·es
To give publicity to.

publicize or -cise

[-cizing, -cized]
 successful quality strategies as well as to recognize quality achievements of specific U.S. companies. The application guidelines are being used as a basic management guide to implement TQM in organizations of all sizes.

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

The Baldrige Award was established to recognize U.S. companies that excel in quality achievements and quality management. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 the application guidelines, the Award is designed to promote:

* Awareness of quality as an increasingly important element in competitiveness,

* Understanding of the requirements for excellence in quality, and

* Sharing information on successful quality strategies and on the benefits derived from implementation of those strategies.

The Baldrige Award is managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology National Institute of Standards and Technology, governmental agency within the U.S. Dept. of Commerce with the mission of "working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements, and standards" in the national interest.  (NIST (National Institute of Standards & Technology, Washington, DC, The standards-defining agency of the U.S. government, formerly the National Bureau of Standards. It is one of three agencies that fall under the Technology Administration ( ). Collaborating closely with quality experts, the NIST produced a seven-category, 1,000 point scoring system Noun 1. scoring system - a system of classifying according to quality or merit or amount
rating system

classification system - a system for classifying things
 and a three-level judging process. Meeting the criteria for the Award should result in world-class quality.

The application guidelines are used by many companies as standards to measure their quality improvement efforts and activities. Some of these companies, however, do not intend to apply for the Award. In fact, in 1990, there were approximately 200,000 requests for copies of the Baldrige Award guidelines, but only 97 companies actually applied. The value of the Award is not necessarily in winning as much as it is in providing a common set of standards for implementing TQM.

Competing for the Baldrige Award starts with the submission of an eligibility determination form to verify (1) To prove the correctness of data.

(2) In data entry operations, to compare the keystrokes of a second operator with the data entered by the first operator to ensure that the data were typed in accurately. See validate.
 that the applicant is a wholly owned U.S. business. Soon thereafter, applicants are notified of their eligibility status. Next, a two-page application form is submitted along with a site-listing and description form outlining the size, structure, and function of the various components of the applying company and its different locations.
Figure 1

Scoring the 1991 Baldrige Award

Examination Categories/Items                        Maximum    Points

Leadership                                                       100

1.1 Senior Executive Leadership                         40
1.2 Quality Values                                      15
1.3 Management for Quality                              25
1.4 Public Responsibility                               20

Information and Analysis                                          70

2.1 Scope and Management of Quality
Data and Information                                    20
2.2 Competitive Comparisons and Benchmarks              30
2.3 Analysis of Quality Data and Information            20

Strategic Quality Planning                                        60

3.1 Strategic Quality Planning Process                  35
3.2 Quality Goals and Plans                             25

Human Resource Utilization                                       150

4.1 Human Resource Management                           20
4.2 Employee Involvement                                40
4.3 Quality Education and Training                      40
4.4 Employee Recognition and Performance
Measurement                                             25
4.5 Employee Well-Being and Morale                      25

Quality Assurance of Products and Services                       140

5.1 Design and Introduction of Quality Products
and Services                                            35
5.2 Process Quality Control                             20
5.3 Continuous Improvement of Processes                 20
5.4 Quality Assessment                                  15
5.5 Documentation                                       10
5.6 Business Process and Support Service Quality        20
5.7 Supplier Quality                                    20

Quality Results                                                  180

6.1 Product and Service Quality Results                 90
6.2 Business Process, Operational, and Support
Service Quality Results                                 50
6.3 Supplier Quality Results                            40

Customer Satisfaction                                            300

7.1 Determining Customer Requirements
and Expectations                                        30
7.2 Customer Relationship Management                    50
7.3 Customer Service Standards                          20
7.4 Commitment to Customers                             15
7.5 Complaint Resolution for Quality Improvement        25
7.6 Determining Customer Satisfaction                   20
7.7 Customer Satisfaction Results                       70
7.8 Customer Satisfaction Comparison                    70

TOTAL POINTS                                                   1,000

Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology, 1991 Application
Guidelines, p. 5.

Companies that apply for the Baldrige Award must submit material describing their quality practices and performance in each of the seven categories shown in Figure 1. For scoring purposes, each category is weighted according to its overall importance in the evaluation. For example, customer satisfaction accounts for 300 of the 1,000 points or 30% of the evaluation, whereas strategic quality planning is 6%.

The criteria place an emphasis on systems for quality improvement, not just quality achievements. The director of the Baldrige Award has listed eight critical factors that are considered by examiners and judges (Main 1990, 108):

1. A plan to keep continuously improving all categories.

2. A system for accurately measuring these improvements.

3. A strategic plan based on benchmarks that compare the company's performance with the world's best performance.

4. A close partnership with suppliers and customers to cycle improvements back into the operation.

5. A clear understanding of current and potential customers so that their wants can be translated into products (services).

6. A long-lasting relationship with customers, going beyond the delivery of the product to include service and ease of maintenance.

7. A focus on preventing mistakes rather than merely correcting them.

8. A commitment to improving quality that goes from the top of the organization to the bottom.

Applications are reviewed by members of the Board of Examiners. These individuals are selected from industry, academia, and consulting firms Noun 1. consulting firm - a firm of experts providing professional advice to an organization for a fee
consulting company

business firm, firm, house - the members of a business organization that owns or operates one or more establishments; "he worked for a
, and are recognized quality experts. Members of the evaluation team undergo intensive training to ensure that the criteria and the review process are thoroughly understood.

Only about 10% of the applicants become finalists and receive site visits by a team of examiners. The examiners tour the facilities, conduct interviews, and review data and records to verify and clarify the information contained in the written application.

After the site visits, a final review is conducted by a Panel of Judges to recommend Award winners to the NIST. The Secretary of Commerce makes the final Award decisions. The recipients may publicize and advertise receipt of the Award. They also are required to share with other companies information about their successful quality strategies.

Perhaps the most important part of the Baldrige Award program is that each winner and loser (jargon) loser - An unexpectedly bad situation, program, programmer, or person. Someone who habitually loses. (Even winners can lose occasionally). Someone who knows not and knows not that he knows not.  receives a report from the examiners. In order to fulfill ful·fill also ful·fil  
tr.v. ful·filled, ful·fill·ing, ful·fills also ful·fils
1. To bring into actuality; effect: fulfilled their promises.

 the overall goal of raising quality consciousness among U.S. companies, this feedback tells the company where its quality management programs are lacking and how they can be improved. In fact, this report is probably the best bargain in consulting services Noun 1. consulting service - service provided by a professional advisor (e.g., a lawyer or doctor or CPA etc.)
service - work done by one person or group that benefits another; "budget separately for goods and services"
 that a company could buy. In return for the application fee ($3,000 for large companies or $1,000 for small companies), five or six highly trained quality experts review the company and prepare a detailed analysis of its strengths and weaknesses. To purchase this service from an outside consulting firm would cost much more (Brown 1991, 7). Many companies apply for the Award even if they are far from being "Baldrige-eligible" in order to receive feedback to help them focus their quality improvement efforts.

The Winner's Circle win·ner's circle
n. pl. winners' circles
An enclosed area at a racetrack where the winning horse and jockey are brought for awards and publicity.

Noun 1.

The Baldrige Award Program is designed so that there can be six winners per year--two large manufacturing companies or their subsidiaries, two large service companies, and two small businesses (manufacturing or service). In the first four years of competition, 309 applications were received and only 12 out of a possible 24 awards were made:
Year   Applications   Awards

1988      66            3
1989      40            2
1990      97            4
1991     106            3
         309           12

The Baldrige Award winners are listed in Figure 2. Commentary on some of these winners is given in the next section of the article.

Baldrige Pros and Cons

The Baldrige Award has established a national standard of quality, with hundreds of corporations using the application criteria as a basic management guide. For example, a number of large companies, including IBM (International Business Machines Corporation, Armonk, NY, The world's largest computer company. IBM's product lines include the S/390 mainframes (zSeries), AS/400 midrange business systems (iSeries), RS/6000 workstations and servers (pSeries), Intel-based servers (xSeries)  and Motorola, use the criteria as an internal measure of quality. The benefits of this approach are threefold: (1) companies refocus Verb 1. refocus - focus once again; The physicist refocused the light beam"
focus - cause to converge on or toward a central point; "Focus the light on this image"

 and take a close look at themselves, (2) companies gain a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and (3) executives are required to consider in detail what their companies are doing with regard to quality (Main 1990, 116).

Despite its popularity, the Baldrige Award has come under criticism. Critics contend that companies place a focus on winning, instead of on achieving quality. Supporters of the Award, on the other hand, maintain that it does not matter how intent companies are on winning as long as they put a meaningful quality program in place. In any event, however, executives should be careful to not mistake the Award for a company cure-all cure-all
A remedy that cures all diseases or evils; a panacea.
; it does not address some key elements of business success--innovation, financial performance, and long-term Long-term

Three or more years. In the context of accounting, more than 1 year.


1. Of or relating to a gain or loss in the value of a security that has been held over a specific length of time. Compare short-term.
 planning (Main 1991, 62).

Some people feel that the Baldrige Award is flawed flaw 1  
1. An imperfection, often concealed, that impairs soundness: a flaw in the crystal that caused it to shatter. See Synonyms at blemish.

 because it falls to predict a company's financial success. This criticism was made because several Baldrige winners experienced financial problems after winning the award. However, the Baldrige Award denotes quality products or services, not business excellence. The Award is not meant to be a measure of financial success.

Another criticism is that the "Baldrige can be bought." These claims arise from reports of large expenditures being made by companies who seek the Award. For example, one Fortune 500 company acknowledged that over several weeks, it deployed more than 80 people and spent more than $250,000 in its unsuccessful efforts to write, edit and publish a winning application in 1988 (Chase and Aquilano 1992, 241). Baldrige defenders contend that the real cost is not in preparing the application but in installing the quality programs themselves. In fact, in 1988 Kenneth E. Leach, then co-owner of Globe Metallurgical met·al·lur·gy  
1. The science that deals with procedures used in extracting metals from their ores, purifying and alloying metals, and creating useful objects from metals.

, Inc., wrote his award winning application in one weekend (Carey 1991, 59)!
Figure 2

Winners of the Baldrige Award

Year   Company                     Category(*)     Business

1988   Motorola, Inc.                  LMC         Semiconductors,

1988   Commercial Nuclear              LMC         Fuel rods for
       Fuel Division of West-                      nuclear power
       inghouse Electric Corp.                     plants

1988   Globe Metallurgical, Inc.       SB          Processes metal

1989   Milliken & Company              LMC         Fabrics, carpets

1989   Xerox Business Products         LMC         Copiers, printers,
       and Systems Group                           workstations,

1990   Cadillac Division of            LMC         Luxury auto-
       General Motors                              mobiles

1990   IBM Rochester                   LMC         Intermediate-sized
       AS/400 Unit                                 computers

1990   Federal Express Corp.           LSC         Package delivery

1990   Wallace Company, Inc.           SB          Distributes pipes,
                                                   valves, fittings

1991   Solectron Corp.                 LMC         Computer prod-
                                                   ucts, systems

1991   Zytec Corp.                     LMC         Computer power

1991   Marlow Industries               SB          Thermo-electric

*LMC = Large manufacturing company
LSC = Large service company
SB = Small business

Critics point out that the Award does not reflect outstanding, or even exceptionally good, product quality. Quality experts were taken aback when Cadillac Cadillac

expensive automobile and status symbol. [Trademarks: Crowley Trade, 83]

See : Luxury
 won. That Award did not mean that Cadillac made the best cars. The judges recognized that Cadillac developed a quality process that transformed every part of its business, from product design to customer service. The process was judged, not the product itself. The publisher of The Quality Executive stated, "The notion that something called the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is not given in recognition of what a company produces or does well is simply illogical and counter-intuitive" (Bowles 1992, 127). Hockman (1992, 137) agrees that the Award is not for product excellence, but for those companies with excellent quality practices; they probably will improve product quality and probably will do it faster than their competition. The Baldrige Award is not a guarantee that a company's products or services are superior; instead quality comes as an end result of a long-term commitment to quality management systems. Quality is a journey, not a destination.

The Baldrige Award also has been criticized on grounds that it does not fit service companies very well. Many service companies believe that the criteria for the Award are too stringent and primarily oriented o·ri·ent  
1. Orient The countries of Asia, especially of eastern Asia.

a. The luster characteristic of a pearl of high quality.

b. A pearl having exceptional luster.

 toward manufacturing organizations. As a result, less than 20% of the applications for the Baldrige Award in its first three years were from service organizations, even though the service sector accounts for more than half of the U.S. economy. David Nadler, a leading quality expert, thinks that the service companies' lack of success can be justified because service companies are far behind manufacturing companies in terms of quality (Main 1990, 116). Two main reasons explain this lag. First, U.S. service companies have much less exposure to foreign competition than do manufacturing companies. Second, the intangible nature of services makes it more difficult for service companies to quantify Quantify - A performance analysis tool from Pure Software.  their measures of quality. For example, service companies have little quantifiable Quantifiable
Can be expressed as a number. The results of quantifiable psychological tests can be translated into numerical values, or scores.

Mentioned in: Psychological Tests
 information on how many customers were lost because of dissatisfaction with the quality of their services, whereas manufacturers can easily count the number of defective defective adj. not being capable of fulfilling its function, ranging from a deed of land to a piece of equipment. (See: defect, defective title)  products returned by their customers.

Despite the criticisms, the Baldrige Award can be considered ideal in many ways. The Award is neither so narrow that it is uninspiring uninspiring

not likely to make people interested or excited

Adj. 1. uninspiring - depressing to the spirit; "a villa of uninspiring design"
inspiring - stimulating or exalting to the spirit
, nor so broad as to be unmanageable. Since 1988, the NIST has distributed over 450,000 copies of the application guidelines throughout the world. There may be flaws in the Award's criteria, but as a framework for assessing management processes and launching improvement programs, it is obviously important to many managers. (Garvin 1991, 86).


As companies are being steadily pressured by intense global competition, a sustainable competitive advantage through differential quality is being emphasized more than ever. The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award promotes quality awareness, recognizes quality achievements of U.S. companies, and publicizes successful quality strategies. Despite much criticism, the Baldrige Award has prompted U.S. companies to improve quality. "Quality," observed a senior vice president at Federal Express, "is to economic success as the nuclear reaction process is to energy production: The output is wildly disproportionate dis·pro·por·tion·ate  
Out of proportion, as in size, shape, or amount.

 to the input once it builds to a chain reaction" (Chase and Aquilano 1992, 228).


1. Bowles, J., in "Does the Baldrige Award Really Work?," Harvard Business Review Harvard Business Review is a general management magazine published since 1922 by Harvard Business School Publishing, owned by the Harvard Business School. A monthly research-based magazine written for business practitioners, it claims a high ranking business readership and  (January-February, 1992): 127.

2. Brown, M., Baldrige Award Winning Quality: How to Interpret the Malcolm Baldrige
  • Howard M. Baldrige, Congressman from Nebraska
  • Howard M. Baldrige, Jr., United States Secretary of Commerce
  • Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award named after Howard M. Baldrige, Jr.
 Award Criteria (Quality Resources and Quality Press, 1991).

3. Carey, J., "The Prize and the Passion," Business Week (October 25, 1991): 58-59.

4. Chase, R. and Aquilano, N., Production & Operations Management Operations management is an area of business that is concerned with the production of goods and services, and involves the responsibility of ensuring that business operations are efficient and effective.  (Irwin, 1992).

5. Garvin, D., "How the Baldrige Award Really Works," Harvard Business Review (November-December, 1991): 80-93.

6. Guaspari, J., I know It When I See It (AMACOM AMACOM American Management Association , 1985).

7. Hammonds, K. and DeGeorge, G., "Where Did They Go Wrong?," Business Week (October 25, 1991): 34-35, 38.

8. Hockman, K., in "Does the Baldrige Award Really Work?," Harvard Business Review (January-February, 1992): 137.

9. Main, J., "How to Win The Baldrige Award," Fortune (April 23, 1990): 101, 104, 108, 112, 116.

10. Main, J., "Is the Baldrige Overblown o·ver·blown  
Past participle of overblow.

a. Done to excess; overdone: overblown decorations.

?," Fortune (July 1, 1991): 62-65.

11. Shepard, S., "Defining the Q-Word," Editor's Note Editor's Note (foaled in 1993 in Kentucky) is an American thoroughbred Stallion racehorse. He was sired by 1992 U.S. Champion 2 YO Colt Forty Niner, who in turn was a son of Champion sire Mr. Prospector and out of the mare, Beware Of The Cat.

Trained by D.
, Business Week (October 25, 1991): 4

Rita M. Gradig is an Application Analyst/Programmer at Phillips Petroleum Co. and is a graduate student at the University of Tulsa; John K. Harris is professor of accounting at the University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 45th-largest in the United States. With an estimated population of 382,872 in 2006,[1] it is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 897,752 residents projected to .
COPYRIGHT 1994 St. John's University, College of Business Administration
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
Author:Gradig, Rita M.; Harris, John K.
Publication:Review of Business
Date:Mar 22, 1994
Previous Article:Corporate transformations: the new role of proxy contests.
Next Article:The Trojan horses: Japanese and U.S. presence in Europe.

Related Articles
Award recognizes state firms ready for global market.
Baldrige examiners needed for year 2000.
Baldrige criteria: Good to go for 2002. (News Briefs).
October 2005.
Clifford Moy.
San Juan College.
Armament Center at Picatinny wins Baldridge Award for Quality.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters