Study showing the value of Baldrige based models (NHQA) on small (home building) businesses

November 9, 2016

The purpose of this paper is to add to the current knowledge of how and why small businesses should engage in quality management (QM) by providing insights from small business owners who are committed advocates of QM. By so doing, to encourage small business owners to see that QM is right – and possible – for any small business wanting to improve performance.

Design/methodology/approach – Using an inductive method, semi-structured interviews followed a template of six open-ended questions. Study participants were ten owners of small family-owned business winners of a Baldrige based National Quality Award (National Housing Quality Award (NHQA), making them industry leaders in applying QM. Data from these QM advocates are presented and discussed.

The cases reveal consistent encouragement for small businesses to engage in QM, with every owner certain that positive outcomes follow. Despite recognizing barriers to engagement, interviewees strongly feel the barriers are small relative to gains realized through QM. These QM advocates advise getting started by choosing one or a few QM tools and/or customizing tools rather than becoming overwhelmed by prospects of the complexity of doing QM to the exacting standards of various quality programs. Finally, they encourage small businesses to stay the course once started on QM.

William H. Murphy Denis Leonard, (2016),Quality management leads to healthier small businesses, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 23 Iss 4 pp. 1104 - 1119

Link to full paper at


Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor, and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.


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