JITE v33n2 - Quality in Higher Education: Lessons Learned from the Baldrige Award, Deming Prize, and ISO 9000 Registration

Volume 33, Number 2
Winter 1996

Quality in Higher Education: Lessons Learned from the Baldrige Award, Deming Prize, and ISO 9000 Registration

Mahyar Izadi
Eastern Illinois University
Ali E. Kashef
University of Northern Iowa
Ronald W. Stadt
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Increased costs to producers, customers, and nations due to poor quality have fostered renewed appreciation of the quality assurance function. Japan initiated a quality revolution in the 1970s and has since received world wide recognition for its achievements ( Crosby, 1979 ). The United States joined the quality race in the mid 1980s and has also made rapid advances ( Walton, 1986 ). More recently, Europeans have launched cooperative efforts to improve quality.

Today, most managers recognize that quality must focus on linkages among functions across entire organizations. This is a principle of Total Quality Management ( Deming, 1986 ). Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management concept that focuses the collective efforts of all managers and employees on satisfying customer expectations by continually improving operations, management processes, and products ( Berry, 1991 ). TQM combines quality control, quality assurance, and quality improvement ( Hoyle, 1994 ) and goes beyond traditional customer satisfaction by addressing the needs of internal customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders ( Peach, 1994 ).

Because of the popularity of TQM, many broadly accepted models promoting and improving quality have been designed. Organizations believe that they should implement two or more models to deliver quality products or service to their customers. The Baldrige Award, Deming Prize, and ISO 9000 Registration are three among many quality systems that may be taken together to establish excellent TQM programs.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act, which provided for recognition of quality improvement among manufacturing, service, and small businesses. The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) is the highest level of national recognition for quality that a United States company can achieve ( American Productivity and Quality Center [APQC], 1993 ).

The oldest, prestigious quality award is the Deming Application Prize (Deming Prize) of the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE). Initiated in 1951 and named after W. Edwards Deming , the Deming Prize has long been recognized as an indicator of excellence in business ( Walton, 1986 ).

In 1987, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) a Geneva, Switzerland based organization composed of 92 member countries, published a series of global quality system standards. These standards are called ISO 9000. The American Society for Quality Control (ASQC) defined the goal of ISO 9000 as "international exchange of goods and services and development of cooperation into the sphere of intellectual, scientific, technological, and economic activity" ( 1991, p. 1 ). ISO 9000 promotes standards to improve productivity and reduce costs in the changing global marketplace.

The Baldrige Award in the U.S. ( Kendrick, 1993a , 1993b , 1993c ), the Deming Prize in Japan, and the European Quality Award ( Kochan, 1992 ) are recognized as the highest dividends for focusing on total quality in business, industrial, and (recently) educational settings.

In the past, few attempts were made to improve the quality of management in higher education, and goals were rarely identified or followed ( Kerr, 1991 ). Quality in higher education has been defined to mean many things, but few institutions have focused on quality management. Recently, the quality of higher education has been severely questioned by the American public and elected officials, but thus far no quality standard has been determined ( Hendricks, 1992 ). The purpose of this article is to examine the three major industrial standards (i.e., Baldrige Award, Deming Prize, and ISO 9000 Registration) and consider how they can help educational institutions and state education agencies plan for improving the quality of their services and increase their productivity.

Ideally, educators should already be practicing TQM principles; the concept has applications for educators in virtually every aspect of their mission. Faculty who diligently maintain currency in their fields through study, research, and consulting, and who prepare for instruction through detailed planning and execution are already practicing TQM ( Holt, 1993 ; Lloyd & Rehg, 1983 ). Higher education should know that the Baldrige Award is the most far-reaching and broad-range source of standards, that the Deming Prize adds numerous opportunities for sophisticated statistical analysis, and that ISO 9000 examines details at operating levels and entails periodic review and global recognition. Table 1 shows the relationships among the three major quality systems and important issues facing higher education.

Table 1
Quality Systems and Important Issues Facing Higher Education
System Focus Important Issues for Higher Education
Customer Satisfaction and Retention (i.e., Students,
Employees, Parents, Alumni, Taxpayers)
Institutional Research and Assessment (i.e., Enrollment
Patterns, Student Progress, Faculty Performance, Drop-
out Rates, Recruitment Activities)
ISO 9000 Documentation Accreditation and Evaluation (i.e., Curriculum
Analysis, Program Requirements, Facilities Analysis)

The Baldrige Award

Corporate concerns regarding quality and challenges of the global markets fostered the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Improvement Act of 1987. The purposes of the Baldrige Award program are (a) to promote awareness and understanding of the importance of quality improvement to the nation's economy, (b) to recognize companies for exceptional quality management and achievement, and (c) to share information on successful quality strategies and benefits derived from implementation of these strategies ( Lee & Schniederjans, 1994 ). An important part of this award is the willingness of the award winners to share and publish information about their successful quality strategies with other U.S. organizations. Only American companies are eligible. The first award was presented in 1988. Many American companies that do not apply and some foreign companies use the criteria for internal assessment. The criteria help employers to assess both short and long-term strategic improvements, develop or enhance planning for continuous improvement, and increase customer satisfaction.

The core values and concepts of the Baldrige Award consist of seven categories: 1) leadership, 2) information analysis, 3) strategic quality planning, 4) human resource development and management, 5) management of process quality, 6) quality and operational results, and 7) customer focus and satisfaction ( Fisher, 1994 ). Conformance to these criteria is reviewed annually to reflect lessons learned during the evaluation process. The award is managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and administered by ASQC. Applications are evaluated by a Board of Examiners nominated from the quality experts of business, professional and trade organizations, accrediting bodies, universities, and government ( Bureau of Business Practice, 1992 ).

The Baldrige Award criteria are a blueprint for quality improvement in any organization, including educational institutions ( Kendrick, 1993a ). The goals of the Baldrige Award are customer satisfaction, customer retention, and market share gain, which parallel student satisfaction, student retention, and student recruitment in academia ( Heizer & Render, 1996 ).

In 1991, approximately 235,000 applications for the prize were requested but only 106 were actually submitted. Companies use the award criteria as a "quality blueprint" for improving and/or evaluating quality or TQM programs, communicating better with suppliers and partners, and educating and training their employees ( Evans & Lindsay, 1993 ).

The Deming Prize

In 1951, the Deming Prize was established in Japan in honor of Dr. W. Edwards Deming . It is an avenue for disseminating knowledge of successful methods for improvement. Its purpose is to award companies that continually apply Company-Wide Quality Control (CWQC) based on statistical quality control and are likely to continue doing so.

Organizations do not necessarily compete for the Deming Prize annually. Instead, attainment of the award signifies that an organization has reached a certain quality standard. There is no limit on the number of winners per year. The prize has several categories including individuals, factories, and divisions or small companies ( Bush & Dooley, 1989 ).

Similar to the Baldrige Award and ISO 9000, to qualify for the Deming Prize, top management must demonstrate commitment by applying. The application process is called "challenging." The process takes three to five years and managers must convince the Deming Prize Committee that they are prepared for an on-site examination. Established experts serve as examiners and audit the state of the quality system, paying particular attention to the use of statistical methods and using a brief set of "particulars" called the Deming Prize Application Checklist. The judging criteria consist of ten major categories: 1) policy and objectives, 2) organization and its operation, 3) education and dissemination, 4) assembly and disseminating information, 5) analysis, 6) standardization, 7) control, 8) quality assurance, 9) results, and 10) future plans ( Evans & Lindsay, 1993 ). To qualify for the award, top management must score at least 70 points and no unit of the company may score less than 50 points. Companies that have applied for the prize receive a report of the comments and recommendations of the Deming Prize Committee. Reports contain findings about desirable and undesirable aspects of quality operations and include constructive suggestions ( APQC, 1993 ).

The Deming Prize was opened to non-Japanese companies in 1984, and Florida Power and Light, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S., won the award in 1989. Kansai Electric Power Company, a Deming Prize winner, was the major "benchmark" firm that Florida Power and Light looked at when it began to consider making a bid for the prize ( Stratton, 1990 ).

Deming ( 1986 ) outlined his philosophy by listing 14 points for managing quality and productivity. Cornesky, McCool, Byrnes, and Weber (1991) indicated that Deming's 14 points were originally written for the manufacturing sector, but they apply to educational systems as well. Bradley ( 1993 ), Cornesky ( 1993 ), English and Hill ( 1994 ), and Field ( 1994 ) have applied Deming's 14 points in educational settings.

ISO 9000 Registration

Another quality system that has helped corporations toward continuous improvement is ISO 9000 Registration. The International Organization for Standardization created the ISO 9000 series of quality standards in 1987. Companies that meet these standards are listed in a registry by the auditing party as ISO 9000 companies. ISO's objective is to promote development of standards worldwide to improve operating efficiency and productivity and reduce costs ( Hutchens, 1991 ). The ISO 9000 series intends to stimulate trade by providing third-party assurance of an organization's ability to meet specifications and perform to negotiated standards. The focus is on basic process control of products and services in regard to quality. The standards are not intended to certify quality of a product or service or whether one is better than another ( Lampercht, 1992 ); the standards relate to an organization's quality system.

A company that has achieved ISO 9000 registration can attest that it has a documented quality system that is fully deployed and consistently followed. With a documented quality system, all the knowledge of how and why work is performed will be part of the system. So, if a company loses a key employee, his/her documented work can help the company continue that employee's quality work. Documentation is kept up-to-date to reflect the dynamic nature of work procedure changes to meet evolving customer demand. The same will be true in education; if quality curriculum, course objectives, and administrative procedures are well documented, change can have a positive effect on the entire institution. The ISO 9000 standards tell companies what to do, but not how to do it. The registration lasts for three years, subject to audits every six months to confirm continued maintenance and operation of quality systems. In Europe, "certification" is used more widely than "registration," which is the preferred U.S. terminology ( Peach, 1994 ).

There is widespread interest in ISO 9000 because registration under ISO quality standards is increasingly necessary to organizations that compete internationally. Virtually all manufacturing organizations will be expected to be registered under ISO 9001, 9002, or 9003 series. The ISO fosters international trade by providing a set of standards with worldwide credibility and acceptance. The rationale is to facilitate trade by simplifying contracts and to obtain related savings with reduced site inspections and audits.

According to the 1994 revised standard, ISO 9001 is a model for quality assurance in design, development, production, installation, and servicing. ISO 9001 is the most comprehensive standard, with 20 elements or functional clauses that organizations must implement to achieve registration. It includes all elements listed in ISO 9002 and ISO 9003 and also addresses design, development, and servicing capabilities. It may be applied to manufacturing as well as services such as construction or professional services.

ISO 9002 is a model for quality assurance in production, installation, and servicing ( Peach, 1994 ). The only distinction between ISO 9001 and ISO 9002 is that ISO 9002 does not include the design function and has only 19 elements.

ISO 9003 is a model for quality assurance in final inspection and testing, and the least comprehensive standard. It addresses only the requirements for detection and control of problems during final inspection and testing. It has 16 elements, ten of which have less comprehensive requirements than do ISO 9001 and ISO 9002. Additional ISO 9000 series may be used as guidelines or auditing standards for implementation of the ISO 9001, 9002, and 9003.

The ISO 9000 standards provide both general guidelines and contractual agreements for meeting quality requirements. Several countries have adopted ISO 9000 and attached special names to it: BS 5750 in Britain, DIN ISO 9000 in Denmark, NS ISO 9000 in Norway, AS 3900 in Australia, Q90 in the U.S., and Defense Standard AQAP-1, which has been used for qualification of NATO defense suppliers. In the European Community (EC), the series is implemented as EN 29000. These national and regional implementations are essentially the same, although minor differences may occur due to language translations ( Chua, 1992 ).

First in Europe and now on all continents, many countries require that firms that do business within their borders be registered. Many U.S. organizations are registered and many others are working to that end. To become registered, an organization has to document to the satisfaction of a third party registrar that its quality system addresses each requirement of ISO 9000 and is maintained as business conditions change. The United States is represented in the ISO organization by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB), an affiliate of the ASQC, regulates the third party auditors who in turn examine company practices.

The ISO 9000 series are clearly defined, but how the quality standards are met is up to the organization. Clear written procedures of all work processes affecting quality are required. Documentation may be via written work instructions, electronic data, or displayed as process flow charts. Compliance with this standard is monitored by an independent third party that has demonstrated its professional qualifications to a national body such as RAB ( APQC, 1993 ).

Comparison of Registration and Awards Criteria

The system implicit in a quality award should exhibit characteristics of both customer satisfaction (Baldrige Award) and continuous improvement (Baldrige Award, Deming Prize, and ISO 9000). Applicants for the award should feel that they have been accurately and fairly judged and that the assessment provides them with value in terms of increased self knowledge of their quality system's strengths and areas for improvement. The continuous improvement concept allows organizations to accept modest beginnings and make incremental improvements toward excellence. An interesting fact about the Deming Prize is that criteria make no mention of customer satisfaction. The emphasis is on rigorous statistical approaches and aggressive problem solving throughout the organization.

Since the benchmarks for TQM in the U.S. are MBNQA and the Deming Prize, and more recently ISO 9000, Table 2 compares these two awards with ISO 9000 ( Bush & Dooley, 1989 ; Mahoney & Thor, 1994 ; Peach, 1994 ; Reimann & Hertz, 1993 ; Walton, 1986 ). This comparison will facilitate understanding and provide a means for productivity improvement among educators and administrators.

Table 2
Comparison of Baldrige Award, Deming Prize, and ISO 9000 Characteristics
Baldrige Award Deming Prize ISO 9000
Purpose Encourage sharing of
learning and drive
this learning nationally
Award companies
that continually apply
company-wide quality
control based on
statistical quality control
Provide common basis
for assuring buyers
that specific practices,
including documentation
conform with provider's
state quality systems.
Focus Customer satisfaction
prevention of quality
Statistical methods
prevention of quality
Conformity to practices
specified in the
registrant's own
quality system.
Eligibility Limited to U.S.
companies only.
Individuals, factories
and divisions or small
companies worldwide
Companies, divisions
and facilities around
the world
1 year cycles; renew
after 5 years
2 to 5 years; preparation
with JUSE; apply
when ready
Takes 6 to 12 months
depending on starting
point and urgency
Winners required to
share nonproprietary
information on quality
strategies with other
U.S. organizations
Dissemination of
information is
voluntary and
Registrants have no
obligations to share
information with others
Maximum of two
awards per category
per year.
Those who meet the
standards receive the
award. For those that
do not qualify, the exam
process is extended up
to 2 times over 3 years.
Companies involved in
international trade
that wish to be
acceptable as vendors
to trade with members
of EC.
Assessment Not a conformity
assessment. Application
reviewed by 5-15 board
members. Site visits
for final contenders.
Improvement evidence
must be in place.
One page of guidelines
(brief, broad, subjective)
Exam conducted by
select panel of senior
members of JUSE.
Evaluate quality manual
and working documents,
site audit by select staff
of registration agency
ensures conformation to
stated practices and
periodic re-audits after

ISO 9000 is a quality system assessment based largely on traditional quality control theory. The Deming Award emphasizes theory and statistical practice to a greater degree than does MBNQA or the ISO 9000. The Baldrige Award is more results oriented and deals with method, development, and outcomes ( Fisher, 1994 ). MBNQA guidelines are a mixture of traditional theories plus the theories developed by Crosby ( 1979 ), Deming ( 1986 ), Feigenbaum ( 1983 ), Juran, Gryna, and Bingham ( 1979 ), and others.

The degree of prescriptiveness inherent in these three approaches to quality is defined by what is to be done and how it is done. MBNQA guidelines spell out what must be done to attain a high score. ISO 9000 defines what should be done but provides little guidance regarding how a system should be set up and operated ( Peach, 1994 ). The Deming Prize provides a set of guidelines, but many applicants have worked with a previous winner to establish benchmarks and work on the details.

The Human Resource Development and Management category is central to the MBNQA's integrated approach to quality and operational improvement. It includes human resource planning and management, employee involvement, employee education and training, performance and recognition, and employee well-being and satisfaction. ISO 9000 addresses human resource issues through its training requirement (needs assessment, training personnel qualifications, and maintenance of training records), and documentation of operator instruction. This requirement does not include consideration of the special factors in services management ( Reimann & Hertz, 1993 ). Contrasted with ISO 9000 and MBNQA, the Deming Prize places minimal emphasis on human resource development. The main thrust of the Deming Prize's education category is on how quality control is taught, and to what extent statistical techniques are understood and quality circle activities are utilized ( Mahoney & Thor, 1994 ; Walton, 1986 ).

Implications for Higher Education

University programs such as vocational and technical education can be improved by implementing the quality criteria. TQM allows internal and external customers to communicate with faculty to continuously improve educational processes. If parents, alumni, and students (internal customers) are satisfied, they will recommend degree programs to others. Likewise, if employers, taxpayers (in state supported institutions), and graduate schools (external customers) are satisfied with the graduates of programs such as technology education, they may continue relationships and support.

Higher education is complicated and cannot be changed overnight. TQM concepts may be used to improve qualities of an educational system. In some experimental classes at Carnegie Mellon University, students are considered customers. Students participate in the planning of courses, determining what is taught, designing syllabi, and assigning grades. The TQM motto in education is learn what the students need and constantly improve the educational processes to deliver it consistently. Some authors claim that students become better thinkers, problem solvers, and team members ( "Academe Gets," 1992 ). As Sutcliffe and Pollock ( 1992 ) concluded, student perceptions of an institute should be sought actively by all levels to ensure that as much as possible is being done to enhance educational experiences within available resources. None of these ideas is foreign to technology teacher educators who foster student organizations and involve students in their departments.

Customers have long been concerned regarding quality in the administration of higher education institutions ( Spanbauer, 1992 ). According to Parnell ( 1990 ), quality standards in academic administration, teaching, and research are essential to higher education and of prime importance in satisfying goals. At dozens of schools, like the University of Wisconsin at Madison, University of Wyoming, Columbia University, and Oregon State University, TQM is applied to the administrative side of organizations ( "Academe Gets," 1992 ). In late 1992, efforts to implement TQM began at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte (UNCC). UNCC made a pragmatic rather than philosophic decision to proceed only in administrative areas, hoping that the efforts could later be expanded into other areas ( Buch & Shelnutt, 1995 ).

Vandenberghe ( 1995 ) stated that the Baldrige Award, the Deming Prize, and the ISO 9000 standards are new frontiers in quality management and can be utilized in educational settings. McCammond ( 1995 ) stated that quality awards and standards will help students and faculty work as teams. Alexander et al. ( 1987 ) stated that teams are the main structure of many TQM organizations. TQM student-faculty partnerships make it easier for students' voices to be heard. Teamwork may provide friendly environments for more productive educational experiences.

Deming encouraged educators to create environments in which strong relationships of mutual respect and trust replace anxiety, suspicion, and separation. He believed that the leadership of faculty, administrators and policy makers can empower students as front-line workers in quality education. This will make for continuous improvements in the work they do together ( Evans & Lindsay, 1993 ; Walton, 1986 ). These concepts are in keeping with competency based or contractual learning and criterion testing, which are widely used in technology teacher education.

In 1992, ISO issued an updated guideline to the standard known as ISO 9004-2, which focused on the service sector. An example of a service sector to which the standard is applicable is education ( International Organization for Standardization, 1992 ). To encourage TQM implementation in academia, a new effort is underway to apply the MBNQA criteria to academic organizations. As part of a pilot program, schools were invited to submit applications, although no awards were to be given in 1995. The new criteria provide guidance for creating mechanisms for academic institutions to implement TQM ( Walker, 1995 ). Technology teacher educators should be at the forefront of this development.

Concepts of industrial quality practices are being accepted by higher education at a very slow rate. Seymour ( 1991 ) and Marchese ( 1991 ) documented benefits and frustrations of campuses that were implementing TQM systems. Walker ( 1995 ) indicated that entire universities will not accept TQM with open arms. Some faculty or administrators continue to resist TQM in education. Resistance may be attributed to unwillingness to change old systems. In higher education, academic decisions have traditionally been made through peer processes and collegial bodies. Dominance of academics in decision making about quality is now being directly challenged by the quality movement's emphasis on customers ( Lindsay, 1994 ).

Spanbauer ( 1992 ) cited reasons such as satisfied customers, increased enrollments, falling attrition rates, and an improved graduate placement as well as significant cost savings for overcoming the resistance to TQM. Successful implementation and execution of an industry-based quality management system for administration and faculty can accomplish the quality objectives of education. Spanbauer ( 1992 ) utilized industrial standards in organizing, critiquing, and improving the administration of Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin. Results indicated that quality standards were effective and substantial improvements were noted and documented.

Industrial teacher educators have the opportunity to facilitate change to TQM environments. TQM concepts should be basic to administration and course content of technology teacher education programs. The implication, of course, is that staff and educators must themselves exemplify the value system implicit in these concepts. Industrial teacher educators should outwardly express their inner commitment to the principles of TQM ( Lloyd & Rehg, 1983 ). Knowing that teachers who would foster understandings of technology in youth must understand contemporary practice in leading edge organizations, they should embrace TQM for themselves and for course content.


Globalization of markets, heightened quality requirements, tough competition, and supplier pressures have led to three parallel and visible quality thrusts nationally and internationally. These thrusts are the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in the United States, the Deming Application Prize in Japan (currently open to other countries), and ISO 9000 Registration, which originated in Europe and has expanded internationally.

While ISO 9000 and MBNQA require support and some involvement by senior administration, the Deming Prize initiative requires substantial commitment of personal time and resources of senior administrators in implementing a quality system. In the latter initiative, quality cannot be just another aspect of business, it must become the way business is conducted. These awards and preparation to achieve them support the broader goal of TQM. Many times, organizations apply for two or all three in order to achieve the highest degree of TQM.

The need for assessing and improving quality in higher education has been well documented. It is illustrated by trends toward implementing TQM, MBNQA, and Deming philosophies ( Bogue, 1992 ; Cornesky, McCool, Byrnes, & Weber, 1991 ; Kendrick, 1993b ; Marchese, 1991 ; Seymour, 1991 ; Spanbauer, 1992 ) in higher education. Institutions are exploring the possibility of developing awards based on MBNQA. Each of these awards and registration standards can be used to benchmark continuous improvement of educational systems.

The use of major quality systems is a positive step in the U.S. strategy toward global competitive advantage in business, industry, and education. Regardless of which route organizations take on their quality journey, these quality thrusts (notwithstanding their minor differences) can provide outstanding leverage for becoming world-class. As Harman ( 1994 ) quoted David Kemp, the Australian Shadow Minister for Education,

Education has to be about excellence. If it is not about quality, then all our effort, all our expenditure will have been for nothing because we will not only have blighted the lives of our students, but damaged our ability to compete and survive in a world which does not owe us a living. We cannot have a world-class economy and a world-class living standard without a world-class workforce. And we cannot have a world-class workforce, without world-class education. ( p. 40 ).


Izadi is Associate Professor, Eastern Illinois University.

Kashef is Assistant Professor, University of Northern Iowa.

Stadt is Professor, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.


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Reference Citation: Izadi, M., Kashef, A. E., & Stadt, R. W. (1996). Quality in higher education: Lessons learned from the Baldrige award, Deming prize, and ISO 9000 registration.f Journal of Industrial Teacher Education , 33(2), 60-76.