Saad Ghafoorab, Nigel Grigga, Sanjay Mathrania and Robin Mannab
aDepartment of Operations and Engineering Innovation, Massey University, New Zealand
bCentre for Organisational Excellence Research, Massey University, New Zealand

12 October 2020

The Excellence Without Borders (EWB) project is the largest study on Business Excellence (BE) to date. The project aims to investigate BE practices and strategies of the BE custodians. The latest research findings from this project can be found here.As part of this research a comprehensive literature of BE was undertaken. The findings including a full listing of peer reviewed BE journal papers are presented in this article.

415 Business Excellence papers have been published from 1990 onwards

BE journal papers were identified using the Scopus Elsevier database. Twenty-nine (29) keywords were searched for in paper titles and then the papers were thoroughly scrutinized to ensure that only genuinely peer reviewed BE focused journal papers were shortlisted. For the purpose of this research, the definition of BE used was as follows: “Business excellence is “excellence” in strategies, processes, and stakeholder related performance results that have been validated by assessments using proven business excellence models”. This definition was used to ensure there is alignment between this study’s definition and the understanding of business excellence as portrayed by the Global Excellence Model (GEM) Council.

With respect to this understanding and the tens of thousands of organisations that use these models, the major components of business excellence are: –

  1. The core values and concepts of excellence (Baldrige) (NIST, 2019) or fundamental concepts of excellence (EFQM) (EFQM, 2019) which are considered as the building blocks of BE.
  2. The BE criteria (displayed as a 9-criteria BE model by EFQM and 7-criteria model in Baldrige). Both models show the interrelationship between the criteria and its relationship to business enablers and business results (thus providing a holistic model of excellence). The core values and concepts of excellence are embedded in these criteria.
  3. Assessment methodology whereby a scoring mechanism of 1000 points is provided and guides organisations on assessment against the model, from simple self-assessments to rigorous externally validated assessments for national business excellence awards. Both models also provide tools to assist in assessing business enablers and results using the RADAR (Results, Approach, Deployment and Assess and Refine) approach provided by EFQM and ADLI (Approach, Deployment, Learning, and Integration) in the Baldrige framework. In both types of models, assessment scores of 600+ are considered as highly mature in terms of business excellence and organisations scoring at this level have the opportunity to become recognised at a national award level.

A paper was classified as a BE paper only if it satisfied all the following conditions:

  • The paper was predominantly (at least 50%) focused on BE;
  • The research was related to BEFs as advocated by the GEM Council. Therefore, researching their theory or use or proposing a development or variant of these established frameworks supported by research validating any proposed change

Papers have been identified and listed in sequence of their average citations per year to help researchers in BE in carrying out their literature review and to improve their understanding of BE. It is realized that the number of raw citations might not be the best measure for ranking the papers in terms of their impact because there may be a bias favouring the older published papers over the newer ones. In order to remove this bias these papers have been listed on the basis of their average citations per year.

Key Findings

52.7% of BE papers are published in or after 2010 and 25% in the last 5 years (2016 or after)

The most popular journals for publishing BE papers in were Total Quality Management and Business Excellence (89 papers), The TQM Journal (38 papers) and International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management (37 papers).

The journals that had published more than 5 BE journal papers and had the highest citations rates were Journal of Operations Management (12 citations per paper), International Journal of Production Research (5.4 citations per paper), and International Journal of Operations and Production Management (3.2 citations per paper).

Research on the design and composition of models was the most popular research topic.

The paper with the most citations, 326 citations, was titled “An empirical assessment of the EFQM Excellence Model: Evaluation as a TQM framework relative to the MBNQA Model” and second with 296 citations was “The Project Excellence Model®: Linking success criteria and critical success factors”

The most average citations per year for a paper was 29.6 for two papers “An empirical assessment of the EFQM Excellence Model: Evaluation as a TQM framework relative to the MBNQA Model” and 21 for The application of performance measurement system model using Malcolm Baldrige Model (MBM) to support Civil State Apparatus Law (ASN) number 5 of 2014 in Indonesia”

Most papers had an average of 2 citation per year.

The authors that had published the most BE papers were Robin Mann, New Zealand (15 papers), Nigel Grigg, New Zealand (8 papers), Ana Belén Escrig-Tena, Spain (7 papers) and James Evans, United States (7 papers).

The worksheet in the attached excel Excel File list all the BE Papers: This worksheet contains the list of all 415 papers, their number of citations, and average citations per year by paper.

Ongoing research

The listing and analysis of BE journal papers will be updated yearly thus providing a continuously up-to-date source of information on BE for researchers.

Please let us know if we are missing any information or if you find any errors


Saad Ghafoor
PhD Researcher Excellence Without Borders
Massey University, New Zealand


Dr. Robin S. Mann
Founder and Head of the Centre for Organisational Excellence (COER) Ltd.
Chief Supervisor
Massey University, New Zealand


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