The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), a 501(3)(c) private not-for-profit foundation, funds research studies and develops education serving all segments of the global incentive industry. The Foundation focuses its initiatives on pragmatic research highlighting the premise and the power of incentive and motivational programs. Through these efforts, the IRF helps businesses to develop effective motivational and performance improvement strategies. Since its inception in 1987, the IRF has underwritten nearly 50 research projects and committed almost $2 million to these research efforts.

These research studies have positioned the Incentive Research Foundation as the global resource for independent, cutting-edge information and analysis of incentive marketing practices and applications. The Foundation established itself as a valued resource for the incentive and business communities with the publication of its first research study, the Master Measurement Model of Employee Performance (1990). This innovative study provided performance measurement criteria that expanded incentive applications outside the traditional sales force arena. This research provided the first of many tools to assist organizations in developing effective incentive programs. Through the development of 10 performance measurement templates for professions as diverse as lawyers, engineers, teachers, and production line workers, the study demonstrated the applicability of incentive programs across the workforce landscape. That noteworthy study initiated the Foundation’s practice of partnering with leading institutions around the world in the areas of motivation, productivity, performance, and benchmarking.

Among these are the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC), the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), The Wharton School, London Business School, Temple University, Northwestern University, Ryerson University, Luton Business School and the market research leader GfK NOP. The Foundation's landmark endeavor, Incentives, Motivation and Workplace Performance: Research & Best Practices, produced the most comprehensive, analytical findings about incentives, motivation, and performance in the workplace. This groundbreaking study, is one of several IRF research papers available in Spanish.

In May 2006, the board of trustees adopted the name Incentive Research Foundation to underscore its mission and service to those that currently use incentives and others interested in improved performance. As the Foundation moves forward with a vigorous research agenda, it will pursue partnerships with related industry groups and associations, the academic community, and corporations to achieve its research goals.

The Incentive Research Foundation functions as an independent organization overseen by a Board of Trustees, comprised of leaders from the incentive, motivation, and performance industries.