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Research conducted by the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research (COER) has revealed that at least 61 countries have a National Business Excellence Award. This is lower than previous estimates which have been as high as 90 plus. This new research only considered awards that were known to be active. To be considered as active there needed to be up-to-date information published on the award, the award needed to have been awarded in the last two years or clear evidence provided that an award was planned for 2015.

Whilst 61 countries have active awards an additional 16 countries were identified as “may have a business excellence award and/or major initiatives that encourage the use of business excellence frameworks”. It was difficult to verify the current situation in these 16 countries from the available information.

COER and encourage readers of this blog to check the list and inform us if our information on your country’s award is incorrect or missing.

The following graph shows that the EFQM Excellence Model is the most popular in the world with use throughout Europe and the Middle East. The Baldrige Excellence Framework is used in the United States and many countries in Asia. Most countries use the latest versions of these models whilst others make small design adjustments or use earlier versions to suit their own country’s needs.

Types of Business Excellence Models

Judging from this research, business excellence is alive and well. However, some countries are struggling to keep their awards’ active in the long-term.

In the Asia-Pacific region the Asian Productivity Organisation (APO) are working hard to help countries introduce and sustain business excellence. Business excellence is recognized as a prime contributor to productivity growth through its holistic approach that links Inputs (such as Leadership, Strategy, Customer Focus, Workforce Focus, Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management, Operations) to Outputs (Results). It is perhaps the ultimate productivity framework as it encompasses everything an organization and country should consider to achieve advances in social, political, economic and environmental performance.

Business Excellence Model

At a recent APO Conference on “Expanding Business Excellence” there were attendees from 12 Asian countries with representatives from National Productivity Organisations (NPO) that are responsible for supporting and/or administrating National Business Excellence Awards. This was an opportunity for sharing experiences. One of the challenges in Asia is that business excellence is often perceived as an award framework rather than an approach which can guide organizations towards world-class performance. NPOs are now beginning to address this through developing clear and measurable national business excellence strategies to spread awareness and use of business excellence. This requires NPOs to provide more services that a larger number of organizations can benefit from such as training, mentoring, networking opportunities, best practice visits and self-assessment tools with tailored services for specific sectors and SMEs.

APO conference
Representatives from businesses and NPO’s across Asia at the APO’s Enhancing Business Excellence Conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, with Chief Expert Dr Robin Mann, COER, and Resource Experts Harnek Singh, ST Engineering, Singapore and Ku Yuen Wah, OCBC Bank, Singapore, 31 March – 2 April 2015

In Asia, Singapore are acknowledged as leaders in business excellence with their mantra “Business excellence is a journey and not a destination” to highlight that awards are only one component of an integrated national business excellence strategy. Other countries such as Sri-Lanka and Fiji are achieving high levels of engagement particularly in the public sector through mandatory or incentivized programmes that are supported by their respective Prime Ministers. Unfortunately, other countries are struggling to obtain high level support to start or maintain their programmes. One example is Pakistan which has had two failed attempts at introducing business excellence awards in 2006 and 2011. Pakistan are now planning to introduce business excellence for a third time but in a more sustainable manner. Their first-step was to host the “Expanding Business Excellence” conference. Their next step is to engage key stakeholders from the private and public sector to plan a national business excellence strategy.

COER supports organisations and countries in business excellence in a number of ways:

  • The contains a wealth of best practice information including the largest collection of Award Winners (over 15,000 potential benchmarking partners) and 1,000’s of best practices that are categorized by business excellence frameworks, and over 70 simple self-assessment tools.
  • COER is working closely with a number of countries to help them develop national business excellence strategies and services.
  • COER is undertaking research that is improving our understanding of National Business Excellence Awards and strategies.

In January 2015, COER launched a research project called “Excellence Without Borders”. This project aims to assist the administrators and custodians of business excellence to effectively develop and manage regional and national business excellence strategies and awards. This project is expected to involve over 30 countries and will investigate how business excellence custodians:

  1. Design their business excellence frameworks;
  2. Deploy their business excellence frameworks (consisting of “awareness” – how custodians create awareness of the framework; “application” – how custodians are assisting organizations in applying or using the framework; and “recognition” – how custodians recognise and reward those organizations that achieve excellence as assessed against the framework);
  3. Support the design and deployment of their business excellence; and
  4. Measure the success of their business excellence frameworks.

For more information on COER’s work please contact Dr Robin Mann,

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