• public health;
  • organizational science;
  • infectious disease;
  • management;
  • developing countries



This paper analyzes Avahan, an HIV prevention program in India, that achieved very rapid scale-up. The paper aims to (i) define the distinctive features of the management of Avahan, (ii) examine how the distinctive features relate to key constructs in management frameworks and (iii) investigate how the management approaches of Avahan contributed to the program's ability to scale-up rapidly while maintaining service quality.

Design, setting and participants

The Delphi method was used to identify the distinctive features of Avahan. Through three rounds of questions, 38 participants closely associated with Avahan were asked to identify and develop consensus on its distinctive features. These features were then mapped against the Baldrige Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence to investigate how they related to important dimensions of management.


A total of 17 distinctive features of Avahan were identified. These distinctive features emphasized the importance of data use and performance monitoring at all levels, especially combined with a flexible management style that facilitated local responsiveness to community, innovation and learning. The distinctive features comprehensively addressed the criteria for management excellence in the Baldridge framework.


In the case of Avahan, the rigorous application of known management techniques to public health programs appears to have been an important factor in the successful scale-up of the program. Also, the Baldrige criteria seem applicable to health programs in low-income and middle-income countries; further applications would help test their robustness and utility in such contexts. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.