The purpose of this paper is to examine the implications of current theories for organizations' decisions about employee benefits, an area that has traditionally received little attention from researchers in the field of human resource management. Drawing on organizational and economic theories, we offer alternative explanations for observed patterns in the adoption and design of flexible benefits plans. By critically analyzing current theories in the context of flexible benefits plans, we hope to gain insights not only into the factors that may determine organizations' benefits decisions, but also into the strengths and weaknesses of the theories themselves. We find that the conflicts, overlaps and limitations inherent in the theories as applied to benefits issues are substantial. The implications for future research are discussed.