Corruption in commercial enterprise: an introduction

Liz Campbell, Nicholas Lord

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword / PostscriptOtherpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The orthodox conceptualisation of corruption is ‘the abuse of entrusted power for private gain’ (Transparency International, 2017) or ‘the abuse of public office for private gain’ (World Bank, 1997: 8). Yet these narratives, while recognising central inherent characteristics such as an abuse of power or that function usually for some form of private gain, common across all ‘corrupt’ behaviours, are ill-defined. They incorporate a set of behaviours that are qualitatively different, and, as such, include bribery and embezzlement alongside nepotism and patronage. One could argue that there are benefits to a wider definition of corruption, insofar as it serves a useful rhetorical purpose by communicating to the public about dubious and harmful behaviours, whether in politics or business and beyond. We suggest that such an expansive approach is not useful for scientific and analytical purposes, where defined parameters are required. Though a broad definition can help to maximise the impact of the ‘anti-corruption movement’, for empirical (and other) types of analysis it is crucial to understand and define the core behaviours more precisely. Furthermore, the prevailing understandings of corruption often do not appreciate the complex ‘situated production’ of corrupt transactions. That is, the individualising and de-contextualising of these behaviours shifts attention away from organisational, structural and cultural conditions in which corruption occurs and is sustained, from the nature of the illicit relations between cooperating legitimate and illegitimate actors, and from the interdependencies of licit and illicit markets and systems. Therein lie the dangers of the conventional and dominant interpretations of corruption.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCorruption in Commercial Enterprise
Subtitle of host publicationLaw, Theory and Practice
EditorsLiz Campbell, Nicholas Lord
Place of PublicationAbingdon UK
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781351602228, 9781351602211, 9781351602204
ISBN (Print)9781138063341
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

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