Companies looking to achieve excellence in their processes have several standards, models and guides with good practices to follow at their disposal. Yet there is no better motivation than an award. Competitiveness is an element that can garner significant results, especially when it comes to the American market.

That is where the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) comes in. That’s right; this is an award, and not just a framework or a guide to good practices. An award that was created in 1987 to recognize outstanding American companies in quality systems implementation. This is the highest award in the USA recognizing excellence in organizational practices (not products or services).

But of what interest is an American award to organizations in other parts of the world? Well, first of all, American companies are spread across the world, through branch offices or acquisitions, mergers and other forms of operation, so this market has a huge indirect influence. Moreover, the Malcolm Baldrige criteria have proven effective in achieving excellence in organizational practices which, regardless of whether or not they result in an award, helps organizations with their challenges in this area.

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

A total of 18 awards may be given out each year in six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, education, healthcare, and non-profit. Within the overall limit of 18, there is no limit on awards in individual categories. To receive the award, an organization must have an organizational management model that guarantees continual improvement in delivery of products and/or services, showing efficient and effective operations and offering a way to engage and involve its customers and other stakeholders.

What are the Baldrige assessment criteria?

The Baldrige criteria for performance excellence are a structure that any organization can use to improve its overall performance. The assessment criteria consist of seven categories:

  • Leadership – examines how senior executives lead the organization and how the organization handles its responsibilities to the public and to the environment in which it is inserted.
  • Strategy – examines how an organization sets strategic directions and how it determines key plans of action.
  • Customers – examines how an organization determines requirements and expectations of customers and markets, how it builds relations with customers, and how it acquires, satisfies and retains customers.
  • Measurement, analysis and knowledge management – examines management, effective use, analysis and enhancement of data and information to provide support for key processes at the organization and for the organization’s performance management system.
  • Workforce – examines how an organization allows its workforce to develop their full potential and how the workforce is aligned with the organization’s objectives.
  • Operations – examines aspects of how key production/delivery and support processes are designed, managed and enhanced.
  • Results – examines an organization’s performance and improvement in its main business areas: customer satisfaction, financial and market performance, human resources, performance of suppliers and partners, operational performance, governance and social responsibility. This category also looks at an organization’s performance in relation to its competitors.

Obtaining real results

The Malcolm Baldrige criteria are used by thousands of organizations of all kinds for self-assessment, training and as a tool to develop their performance and business processes. For many organizations, using Baldrige assessment criteria results in better relations with employees, higher productivity, improved customer satisfaction, greater market share and increased profits.

The criteria also provide organizations with an opportunity to integrate various management strategies into their strategic policy. This is not a magic formula, but rather a set of efforts, including the use of other available models (such as ISO, Lean, Six SigmaBSC, etc.) to allow for delivery of products/services with constant improvement, improved efficacy and efficiency within the organization, and unique organizational learning opportunities.

Tobias Schroeder


Tobias Schroeder

MBA in Strategic Management from UFPR. Business and market analyst at SoftExpert, a software provider for enterprise-wide business processes automation, improvement, compliance management and corporate governance.

You might also like:

Get free content in your inbox!

Subscribe to our Newsletter and get content about corporate management's best practices produced by specialists.

By clicking the button below, you confirm that you have read and accept our Privacy Policy.