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What is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA)?

Quality Glossary Definition: Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA)

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) is an award established by the U.S. Congress in 1987 to raise awareness of quality management and recognize U.S. companies that have implemented successful quality management systems. The award is the nation's highest presidential honor for performance excellence.

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA)
The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA)

Three MBNQA awards can be given annually in six categories:

  • Manufacturing
  • Service Company
  • Small Business
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Non-profit

The education and healthcare categories were added in 1999, while the government and non-profit categories were added in 2007.

The MBNQA award is named after the late Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige, a proponent of quality management. The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology manages the award, and ASQ administers it.

The Seven MBNQA Criteria Categories

Organizations that apply for the MBNQA are judged by an independent board of examiners. Recipients are selected based on achievement and improvement in seven areas, known as the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence:

  1. Leadership: How upper management leads the organization, and how the organization leads within the community.
  2. Strategy: How the organization establishes and plans to implement strategic directions.
  3. Customers: How the organization builds and maintains strong, lasting relationships with customers.
  4. Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management: How the organization uses data to support key processes and manage performance.
  5. Workforce: How the organization empowers and involves its workforce.
  6. Operations: How the organization designs, manages, and improves key processes.
  7. Results: How the organization performs in terms of customer satisfaction, finances, human resources, supplier and partner performance, operations, governance and social responsibility, and how the organization compares to its competitors.

The 2021-2022 Baldrige Excellence Framework is available for the business/nonprofit industries. The 2019-2020 Baldrige Excellence Framework is available for the business/nonprofit, healthcare, and education industries. The criteria focuses on managing all components of an organization as a whole, cybersecurity risks, and understanding the role of risk management within a systems perspective of organizational performance management.

MBNQA Resources

You can also search articles, case studies, and publications for Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award resources.


Case Studies

Measuring Maturity Of Performance Improvement In A Public Health Program (Journal for Quality and Participation) Learn how the Tennessee Department of Health adopted the Baldrige framework including performance improvement and excellence tools, which facilitated workforce development by reinforcing key public health competencies and continuous improvement methodologies.

Aligning, Improving Key Measures Net Texas Healthcare Organization Baldrige Honor (PDF) When St. David’s HealthCare first adopted the Baldrige criteria, leaders viewed it as an improvement framework to shape a culture of quality and performance excellence. The organization’s emergency departments served as a prime example of improving key metrics, as wait times were significantly shortened to meet competitive challenges.

Critical Success Factors Lead to Second Baldrige Award (PDF) After its flagship hospital received a Baldrige Award in 2006, North Mississippi Health Services deployed the Baldrige Criteria throughout the entire organization. Focusing on its five critical success factors, the system received the Baldrige in 2012.

Solid Commitment to People Is Main Ingredient for Texas Restaurant Excellence (PDF) In 2010, K&N became the second food service recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the first restaurant group ever to receive the Texas Award for Performance Excellence.


Insights from the Baldrige Award Item-Level Blinded Applicant Scoring Data (Quality Management Journal) Examining applicant scoring data of the MBNQA, this paper provides longitudinal and a cross-sectional views of the data and makes observations on how award applicants' scores have evolved over time.

An Information Processing Perspective Of Process Management: Evidence From Baldrige Award Recipients (Quality Management Journal) The authors explore the validity of their conceptual framework using data from feedback reports of 11 past recipients of the MBNQA that included each of the award categories except manufacturing.

Management System Design for Sustainable Excellence (Quality Management Journal) The author presents a framework and approach for management system design, building on Baldrige-based performance excellence concepts and integrating aspects of systems theory, design thinking, appreciative inquiry, and sustainability.

Beginning the Journey Towards Baldrige (Journal for Quality and Participation) In 1999, the Baldrige National Quality Program expanded to allow educational organizations to participate. This article shows the thoughts and experiences of educators beginning the journey toward Baldrige excellence. 

Danger Zones: The 10 Toughest Aspects of the Baldrige Criteria (Quality Progress) The rigorous Baldrige criteria force organizations to deal with difficult questions about their operations, but answering the questions adequately and appropriately can be the key to reaching higher levels of business excellence.

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