This paper reviews a range of theoretical approaches to partnerships working between protected area agencies and the tourism industry. While partnerships are a hallmark of contemporary thinking about protected area management, research to date leaves considerable scope for development, application and testing of theory. The paper draws eight theoretical approaches from the literature with potential application to a study of the contributors to partnership success. It progresses a postdisciplinary approach to partnership research. A 72-item questionnaire was derived from the theoretical perspectives and completed by 100 partners. Analysis identified features perceived as potentially contributing to a successful partnership as well as the key outcomes of a successful partnership. The findings indicate the prominence of institutional analysis and development, social capital, environmental dispute resolution and network theories in explaining partnership success. Given the centrality of partnerships in protected area tourism and ongoing societal interest in the sustainability of such areas, this paper provides vital insights to further multi-theoretical, postdisciplinary research, and to the successful management of partnerships.