The first part of a review of the literature to inform investigations on effective natural resource management (NRM) partnerships examines, inter alia, ecological theory and NRM and the scope of major NRM problems that confront Australia. Australian NRM problems are shown to be symptomatic of cultural maladaptation. Collaborative and partnership-based approaches to NRM, are analysed using theoretical frameworks relating to citizen participation, cultural transformation theory and power. The concepts of social capital, social liability, social learning and dialogue are also applied to a discussion on NRM collaborations and partnerships to aid in an understanding of both the partnership building process and of limitations of partnerships. Part two of the review explores NRM groups as social settings within which collaborations and partnerships may develop, and theories relating to group development and effectiveness and the ways that NRM groups change over time. The significance and nature of the NRM issue at hand, its relevance to participants, and the attributes of the participants and those endeavouring to broker NRM collaborations and partnerships were identified as factors influencing the effectiveness of NRM collaborations and partnerships. Part two also develops analytical tools to help in this task, including a pendulum of citizen participation, a citizen participation decision tree and an NRM partnership typology.