Encyclopedia of Law and Economics, Marciano A. and Ramello G.B. (eds.), New York: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-7883-6_702-1

Posted: 31 Oct 2017 Last revised: 2 Nov 2017

See all articles by Maurizio Lisciandra

Maurizio Lisciandra

University of Messina - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 1, 2017


Corruption can be generally intended as an (illicit) exchange between a member of an organization and another subject at the expense of either the organization itself or the rights of others, in which acts of power in contrast with official duty are exchanged for personal advantage. This general definition is usually narrowed to consider corruption as an act of misuse of public power for private profit against the common good. Sensu stricto, bribery is considered the only actual form of corruption. It consists of promising, offering, or giving, as well as soliciting or accepting, a corrupt exchange between some utility (e.g., kickbacks, gratuities, sweeteners) and the actions of individuals (e.g., bureaucrats, politicians, employees in private enterprises) in charge of a legal or public duty. Some habits, such as tipping, gift-giving, and patronage, may not be considered corruption per se, but they are corruption-like situations when they are intentionally conceived to induce someone to act dishonestly. Finally, according to many countries’ specific legal standards, certain transfers that are similar to bribes are not considered illicit payments, as in the case with lobbying, campaign contributions, and postretirement offers to politicians or public officials. In these circumstances, the elements of a corrupt exchange are all in place apart from the difficulty of identifying the abuse of the official duty and the distortion of market competition.

Keywords: Bribing; public procurement; crime; red tape

JEL Classification: D72; D73

Suggested Citation

Lisciandra, Maurizio, Corruption (October 1, 2017). Encyclopedia of Law and Economics, Marciano A. and Ramello G.B. (eds.), New York: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-7883-6_702-1, Available at SSRN:

Maurizio Lisciandra (Contact Author)

University of Messina - Department of Economics ( email )

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Messina, 98122
+39 (0)906764620 (Phone)

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