Corruption Definitions

Market-Centered Definitions

Unlike the P.I.C and the “to be discussed” P.O.C definitions, the market-centered definition(s) is rather limited, seeing as it overlooks the greater degrees of Nye’s definition which will be looked into later on. Heidenheimer provides a set of examples that explain the overall concept of this approach by calling on the definitions given by Robert O. Tilman and Jacob Van Klaveren.

A corrupt civil servant regards his public office as a business, the income of which he will…seek to maximize.

The office then becomes a “maximizing unit”. The size of his income depends…upon the market situation and his talents for finding the point of maximal gain on the public’s demand curve.

(Van Klaveren 1970)

Corruption involves a shift from a mandatory pricing model to a free-market model· When this happens bureaucracy ceases to be patterned after the mandatory market and takes on characteristics of the free market.

(Tilman 1968)

Where this definition fails, is in its inability to acknowledge the intangible benefits (promise of political support, prestige) gained from the misuse of authority.

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Public-Office-Centered Definitions

Here, corruption is defined similarly to most individual’s perception of the term, i.e. the misuse of authority or public office in exchange for private gain. McMullan (1961) and Bayley’s (1966) definitions stand out as good examples when explaining this approach.

A public official is corrupt if he accepts money or money’s worth for doing something that he is under duty to do anyway, that he is under duty not to do, or to exercise a legitimate discretion for improper reasons.

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(McMullan 1961)

Corruption, while being tied particularly to the act of bribery, is a general term covering misuse of authority as a result of considerations of personal gain, which need not be monetary. (Bayley 1966)

These definitions interestingly, highlight the fact that whether an action is without or within public officials’ formal duties, both are still classified as acts of corruption. Nye (1967) builds upon these two definitions, concluding that wealth and status can also be classed as private gains. His definition also accounts for the logics of solidarity network thesis offered by Olivier De Sardan (1999). It recognizes the family and friends framework as beneficiaries of the private gains of corrupt officials.

(Gould D.J, 1989) cited in (Okafor, 2012), recognized more than twenty categories of corrupt practices in developing nations which are very much rampant in Nigerian society. These are, fraudulent use of official stationary, kickback for wiring, payment for office visit, bribery, payment for letter of recommendation, salary computation fraud, misuse of official housing, two salaries, neglect of public service for personal business, money travel documents and travel related peccadilloes, embezzlement in its various form among others. Furthermore, Tolu & Ogunro (2012) (as cited in Nageri, Umar & Abdul, 2013) recognised four types of corruption prevalent in Nigeria in their article “Combating Corruption in Nigeria”;

1. Economic Corruption: i.e. adulteration of drinks, manufacture and sale of fake medication, piracy/plagiarism, as well as fraud on all levels etc.

2. Electoral Corruption: This has to do with election manipulation, rigging, ballot stuffing, registration of ineligible voters, and many others.

3. Moral Corruption: This refers to greed in interpersonal relationships, slander, exhibition of sexual pervasiveness etc. Corruption here means a clear infringement of the law and therefore there is a need to state these laws to every official, thus, allowing it to be interpreted legally to determine what constitutes a corrupt act and what does not (Gupta, 2018).

4. Political and Bureaucratic corruption: It is the illegal, unauthorized and unethical exploitation of one’s political or official position for personal gain. ‘It involves the misallocation of resources but distorts the decision-making process. When the laws and regulations of the state are subjected to misuse by the rulers to meet their interests, it is known as political corruption’ (Gupta, 2018). It is therefore corruption against the state or its agencies by individuals in power in pursuit of private or personal profit e.g. neopatrimony.

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Corruption Definitions. (2021, Aug 12). Retrieved from

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