The EFQM Excellence Model

The EFQM Excellence Model was developed in 1989 by 14 multinationals grouped in The European Foundation of Quality Management in order to improve the quality of management in Western Europe (Westerveld, 2002). The EFQM Model was built as a response to the American Malcolm Balbridge Award, but shows many parallels with other quality models such as the Australian Quality Award, the South Africa Quality Award, or Deming Award in Japan (Nabitz et al, 2000).


According with Wongrassamee et al (2003), the EFQM Excellence Model provides a systems perspective for understanding performance management based on nine criteria and 32 sub criteria that “represent a common language for communicating and sharing best practices among organizations”. The nine criteria or dimensions are:

  • Leadership
  • Policy and strategy
  •  People
  • Partnership and resources
  • Processes
  • Customer results
  • People results
  • Society results
  • Key performance results


The organization’s quality assessment based on the 9 criteria and 32 sub criteria is enacted through  a five steps measuring  methodology called RADAR (Research – Approach – Deploy –Assess – Review) similar with that of the Deming PDCA cycle (Plan – Do – Check – Act) (Nabitz et al, 2000)


Balanced Scorecard and EFQM:  a comparison approach

Although it was introduced to support the European Quality Award Process, in time, the organizations started to use the EFQM Excellence Model as a self assessment tool of their performance. By doing this the organizations were able to assess the areas of strengths and the areas were improvements had to be made. (Lamotte and Carter, 2000). According with the two scholars, in recent years the use of the model evolved even further, moving from its use as a measurement tool to its use as a management tool.


Due to the developments of the model in regards with its use, but also to the fact that on surface many of the criteria used by the EFQM Model resembles those of the Balanced Scorecard (Lamotte and Carter, 2000), several research studies were performed, in order to compare the two models and establish the connections and relationship between them.


After assessing the Balanced Scorecard and the EFQM Excellence Model on five dimensions: objectives, strategies and plans, targets, rewards and feedback, Wongrassamee et al (2003) acknowledge that the models have several points in common.

  • Both models are based on a flexible methodology
  • Both models provide broad and non prescriptive templates,
  • According with both models, organizations are allowed to choose and customize the measures that fit their mission, strategy, technology or culture
  • Both models include several key objectives focused on specific areas


To this common points of the models, Lamotte and Carter (2000) add several others:

  • Both models have similar aspirations, similar concepts, similar labels and boxes
  • Both models are measurement based, and are build on the principles of performance improvement, review learning and feedback
  • Both models talk about cause and effect, enablers and results and both strive to act as catalysts for change and action


Despite these multiple points of resembles, according with Lamotte and Carter (2000) the similarities are based only on a surface assessment of the two models.  If analyzed more in detail, Balanced Scorecard and EFQM Model have different approach angles to the organizational performance assessment and improvement.  A list of points that sets the two models apart is provided below.


                           Balanced Scorecard

                                  EFQM Models

Context dependent: tailored every time

Less context dependent: best practice benchmark

Prescriptive and focused

Descriptive and comprehensive

Hypothesis driven and subjective

Fact based and objective

Aspirational – “to be” view of the company

Current – “as is” view of the company

Explicit cause & effect model

Implicit cause & effect model

External variables unsystematically addressed

External variables systematically addressed

Source: Lamotte and Carter (2000)

Additionally, Wongrassamee et al (2003) acknowledge that one major point of difference between the two models is that,  while the EFQM Excellence Model key objectives are assigned based on the Total Quality Management (TQM) principles, the key objectives in the Balanced Scorecard are based on the alignment with organizational strategy.


Though, the two models approach the organizational performance process from different perspectives, Lamotte and Carter (2000) consider that there is no reasons not to bring the two models together, in order to allow an improved performance management practice within organizations. Wongrassamme et al. supports a similar position though they also acknowledge that in practice few attempts have been made to apply the Balanced Scorecard to the EFQM Excellence Model.



  • Lamotte, G. & Carter, G. (2000), Are the Balanced Scorecard and EFQM Excellence Model mutually exclusive or do they work together to bring added value to a company, Balanced Scorecard Collaborative.
  • Nabitz, U., Klazinga, N. & Walburg, J. (2000), The EFQM excellence model: European and Dutch experiences with the EFQM approach in health care.
  • Westerveld, E. (2003), The Project Excellence Model: linking success criteria and critical success factors, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 21, pp. 411-418.
  • Wongrassamee, S., Gardiner, P., D. & Simmons, J., E., L. (2003), Performance measurement tools: The Balanced Scorecard and the EFQM Excellence Model, Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 14-29.

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