ASQ Influential Voices Contribution: Was Baldrige Meant to be Global?

In his April blog post titled “Global Quality Programs (Don’t Just Call Them Awards),” Paul Borawski, CEO of ASQ, asks his global readership the following three questions:
  • Do you live in a country with a national quality program? 
  • Is it serving to create role models for others to emulate? 
  • Is the national program growing in visibility and perceived value and creating capacity for national excellence? 
The answers to Paul’s questions should be simple to answer for those of us living in the United States.  The answer to Paul’s first two questions is simply, “Yes.”  The national quality program of the United States of America is the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP) and winners of the national quality award are required to share their success with other American companies.  I reserve the right to answer Paul’s third question in another post.

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act of 1987 was enacted by law in order to help American companies compete with the rest of the world.  The Baldrige program provides role model organizations with a national quality award based on the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence awarded by the President of the United States. The Baldrige program is administered by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with help from the American Society for Quality (ASQ). 

I have served a number of times as a national Baldrige examiner and wholeheartedly believe in the value of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence; I believe the criteria to be nothing short of a national treasure. Today, however, Baldrige is the basis for the national quality award for many other countries.  As a quality professional, occasional Baldrige examiner, and citizen of these United States I have some concerns about exporting Baldrige to other countries; especially to those countries that do not like us and even mean to do us harm. As already mentioned, the original spirit of the Baldrige award was to help America compete. I challenge anyone to read the bill and come to a different conclusion. Have you read the bill?

Read the bill here:

Why am I concerned?  Both the U.S. State Department and U.S. Treasury Department maintain separate lists of countries with sanctions, embargos, or other restrictions for doing business with the United States. See the lists at and The reason these countries are restricted varies and it includes a number of countries and their representatives who mean to do us harm; yet some of these same countries have a national quality award, which is based on the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence.

Here are the questions which trouble me and get me in trouble: Why has the Baldrige Criteria, the basis for our national quality award, been exported all over the world?  Why would we willingly give away that which was intended to help American companies compete with the rest of the world?  The global do-gooders will scoff at my question and argue we must do this if we want to compete globally. They will add, “Don’t you want those you are working with oversees to be on the same page as you with regard to quality?”  This troubles me.

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