In the competitive, downsized, and mission-driven global service economy of the early 21st century, all organizations search for models to encourage innovation, measure performance, and raise customer service quality standards. Competition for an award can be a cost effective strategy to identify processes needing improvement, conduct self-assessments, receive objective feedback, and motivate employees to meet higher performance goals. Numerous international, federal, state, local, regional, and private award programs now use similar criteria and methodology to recognize and transfer information about the most effective processes, methods, systems, and results. Awards can advance knowledge about management and organizational learning theory, standardize processes, and assist public, private, and non-profit sector managers in determining which strategies are best suited for their organizations. This paper describes various quality award programs worldwide and reports the preliminary results of an empirical study analyzing the impact of awards on improving service quality in the United States (Survey, 2002).