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Alternative work arrangements that offer employees flexibility in the time and place of work have been found to be both popular with employees and beneficial for organizations. However, alternative work arrangement programmes that are implemented by organizations are likely to be ineffective unless they are supported by first-line managers. In this policy-capturing study, participants with managerial experience responded to vignettes in which they were asked to make decisions about whether to approve various subordinates’ requests for alternative work arrangements. As a group they tended to make decisions in accordance with their own short-term self-interest. Requests that were expected to be more disruptive to the conduct of work (e.g. requests from subordinates who were working on more critical tasks and possessed more special skills, requests for an unpaid leave of absence over requests for varying the work site) received less favourable decisions. However, cluster analysis revealed four distinct clusters of managers who employed fundamentally different decision policies. The results suggest that organizations need to take actions to ensure equity, consistency and a long-term orientation in managerial decisions about alternative work arrangements.