Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award history
Named after former secretary of commerce Malcolm Baldrige, the award is actually four awards given annually to American companies to recognize their achievements. The fields in which the awards are given are manufacturing, service, small business, and education and health care.
The awards were established by Congress in 1987 to recognize American businesses. They were initiated to emphasize quality, which Baldrige felt was essential for American companies if they were to maintain their edge and fight off foreign competition. In the 1970s and 1980s, American companies developed a reputation for poor quality and shoddy products, and the awards were a method of emphasizing quality in a more global business environment.
Each company winning an award must meet specific criteria for excellence, including leadership, customer and market focus, strategic planning, process management, business results, and information and analysis. Companies winning awards since 1987 were Dana Corp., AT&T Consumer Communications Services, Cadillac Motor Division, Xerox Corp., Ames Rubber Corp., IBM, and the Ritz Carlton Hotel Co., among others. The IBM Corporation used the award to challenge itself to turn around the company in the late 1980s, once again becoming known for producing quality products.
Malcolm Baldrige (1922–87) was secretary of commerce under Ronald Reagan from 1981 until his accidental death in 1987. Before entering government service, he was chief executive officer of Scovill, Inc., formerly a brass mill that he transformed into a diversified manufacturer of consumer and industrial goods. The award was named after him posthumously in recognition of his championship of quality in both manufacturing and the service industries.
- Boyett, Joseph H., Stephen Schwartz, Laurence Osterwise, and Roy Bauer. The Quality Journey: How Winning the Baldrige Sparked the Remaking of IBM. New York: Dutton, 1993.
- Brown, Mark G. Baldrige Award Winning Quality: How to Interpret the Baldrige Criteria for Performance. New York: Quality Resources, 1997.