Conventional and Unconventional Corruption

Duquesne Law Review, Vol. 51, pp. 263, 2013

58 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2012 Last revised: 30 Oct 2016

Date Written: March 7, 2013


Corruption in the public sector exists in different forms around the world. This article is concerned with two such forms: "conventional corruption" and "unconventional corruption."

Conventional corruption occurs when government officials illegally abuse public office for private gain. Illegal quid pro quo transactions, including acts of bribery, are prominent examples of conventional corruption. In contrast, unconventional corruption occurs when elected officials put personal campaign finances ahead of the public interest. Although unconventional corruption does not involve an illegal quid pro quo transaction, it does involve corrupt decision-making that is undertaken with the purpose of serving political funders instead of the people.

These forms of corruption are related. When progress is made in combating conventional corruption, unconventional corruption is likely to be on the rise. One aspect of this relationship involves non-government actors: when protections against conventional corruption are effectively implemented, private parties who have become accustomed to acts of bribery and the like must seek to achieve their objectives through alternative means, such as campaign contributions and expenditures. Another aspect of this relationship involves government actors: elected officials in countries that have recently implemented measures to combat conventional corruption are especially susceptible to the influence of potential campaign contributions and expenditures because they can no longer divert public funds for campaign purposes.

This article explores conventional and unconventional forms of corruption in comparative perspective with respect to the United States and Kenya. The article aims to provide solutions for these two countries to effectively combat the relevant form of corruption that plagues their society.

Keywords: corruption, Constitution, United States, Kenya, campaign finance, separation of powers, checks and balances

Suggested Citation

Yingling, M. Patrick, Conventional and Unconventional Corruption (March 7, 2013). Duquesne Law Review, Vol. 51, pp. 263, 2013, Available at SSRN:

M. Patrick Yingling (Contact Author)

Reed Smith LLP ( email )

Chicago, IL
United States

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