Waylaid Dialectic

June 25, 2010

Two Types of Corruption

Filed under: Governance — terence @ 2:04 pm

Just musing (inspired by readings on Melanesian politics)…

Two types of corruption in developing countries:

Venal Corruption: the simple stealing of social resources for your own or for your associates’ use. There’s a straight line from greed to this type of corruption. It’s also the type of corruption we see in the West. And it’s present in developing countries.

The Corruption of Conflicting Rules: Relatively rare in the West. When informal socially mandated rules come into conflict with the law of the land. For example, when the family members of a bureaucrat prevail upon that person to ‘take care of their own’ and focus a service on their area of origin.

In terms of morals, Venal Corruption is far worse than the Corruption of Conflicting Rules. The difference here is the difference between selfishness and decisions made in difficult situations.

In terms of consequences, both types of corruption can be equally detrimental to governance and the provision of public goods and services, and good governance.

In terms of what to do, strategies for tackling the two different types of corruption might be quite different. A strong audit office could be sufficient to check Venal Corruption. On the other hand, in some cases, the Corruption of Conflicting Rules might be incredibly difficult to eliminate save through wholesale social change or, at the very least, the redesign of formal institutions.


  1. I like your classification of the two types of corruption. It is direct, to the point and serves to clearly define corruption. I hope that you don’t mind my using it in a post of mine.

    Comment by SarkinMagana — May 14, 2011 @ 6:38 am

  2. Thanks – you’re most welcome to use it.

    Comment by terence — May 14, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

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