More quality through competitive quality awards? an impact assessment framework

Tony Bovaird*, Elke Löffler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Given the growing international phenomenon of quality award competitions for public sector services and organizations it is timely to assess their impacts. While award schemes have become a popular marketing tool to increase the visibility of award organizers, it is unclear what impact they have on various dimensions of quality - organizational quality, service quality and the quality of life of citizens. So far, quality awards are a theory-free area with few evaluations being undertaken by the academic community. By the same token, quality awards organizers have not shown a great inclination to invest in impact assessments. Yet, major questions exist on the extent to which quality awards live up to their claims to help applicants and non-applicants to improve quality. This article maps existing pieces of evidence against an impact assessment framework and identifies the research gaps to be addressed by the academic community and public sector organizations. Points for practitioners Competitive quality awards can have benefits in terms of innovation, organizational learning, and reputational promotion. However, for the applicants these benefits come at a price - the innovations and the learning only occur if the organization undertakes the application in a way which builds these benefits into the process. Moreover, the promotional benefits depend on which awards they win, particularly on how well publicized they are. For organizers, too, a cost-benefit calculus is necessary - while competitive awards may be cheaper to organize than accreditation schemes, they may not lead to such careful preparation, with consequently lower impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-401
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Review of Administrative Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2009


  • competitive award schemes
  • innovation
  • organizational learning
  • quality awards
  • self-promotion


Dive into the research topics of 'More quality through competitive quality awards? an impact assessment framework'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this