The Utility of the Texas Award for Performance Excellence Criteria as a Framework for Assessing and Improving Performance Excellence in the Texas A&M Foundation: A Case Study

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2012-02-14

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In 2007 nonprofits became eligible to apply for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) and the state-level Baldrige-based Texas Award for Performance Excellence (TAPE). There exists minimal research on quality management frameworks to guide performance excellence in nonprofits and there is a lack of understanding regarding the applicability and utility of the MBNQA and TAPE Criteria as a framework for performance excellence for nonprofit organizations. This study looks at how one nonprofit organization deployed the TAPE Criteria framework across the organization and the extent to which organizational learning resulted and was integrated across the organization.

The qualitative case study utilized naturalistic inquiry methodology to chronicle situational themes and relationships that emerged during the organization's year-long process of preparing an application for the TAPE. The study took place in a natural setting and the researcher was immersed in the organization's experience as a participant-observer assisting with developing the application. Data collection methods included direct observation, interviews, and document analysis. The case study approach provided a context and perspective for other nonprofit entities seeking to assess and improve performance.

The TAPE Criteria framework is a systematic and structured approach to improving performance excellence and its methodologies are repeatable and based on facts and data. Leaders recognized the value of assessing the organization's current condition in a holistic manner, yet they distinguished and used only those parts of the Criteria that they found meaningful and effective. Leadership viewed the TAPE Criteria in light of how it could support its mission success, rather than supplanting management practices that had historically achieved organizational goals that met or exceeded customer needs and expectations.

The results of the study are relevant and may assist nonprofit executives and administrators in applying and utilizing Baldrige-based improvement methodologies. The information gleaned from the study will help administrators of the TAPE to improve the usefulness and functionality of the framework across all business arenas. TAPE administrators should benefit from the research as it provides information on how individuals experienced and learned the taxonomy of the framework.

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