There is increasing discussion in the academic and agency literature, as well as popular media, about the need to address the existing deficit of beneficial fire on landscapes. One approach allowable under United States federal wildland fire policy that could help address this condition is by deliberately managing wildfire with a strategy other than full suppression (hereafter referred to as ‘managed wildfire’). To improve the understanding of the managed fire decision-making process, we conducted a mixed methods review of the existing literature. This review spanned 1976 to 2013 and used thematic coding to identify key factors that affect the decision to manage a wildfire. A total of 110 descriptive factors categories were identified. These were classified into six key thematic groups, which addressed specific decision considerations. This nexus of factors and decision pathways formed what we describe as the ‘Managed Fire Decision Framework’, which contextualizes important pressures, barriers, and facilitators related to managed wildfire decision-making. The most prevalent obstacles to managing wildfire were operational concerns and risk aversion. The factor most likely to support managing a fire was the decision maker’s desire to see the strategy be implemented. Ultimately, we found that the managed fire decision-making process is extremely complex, and that this complexity may itself be a barrier to its implementation.