Public, nonprofit and private organisations respond to large-scale disasters domestically and overseas. Critics of these assistance efforts, as well as those involved, often cite poor interorganisational partnering as an obstacle to successful disaster response. Observers frequently call for ‘more’ and ‘better’ partnering. We found important qualitative distinctions existed within partnering behaviours. We identified four different types of interorganisational partnering activities often referred to interchangeably: communication, cooperation, coordination and collaboration—the Four Cs. We derived definitions of the Four Cs from the partnering literature. We then tested them in a case study of the response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake. We suggest that the Four Cs are distinct activities, that organisations are typically strong or weak in one or more for various reasons, and that the four terms represent a continuum of increased interorganisational embeddedness in partnering activities.