Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 1–32 | Cite as

Explaining corruption: An institutional choice approach

  • Michael W. Collier


The end of the Cold War, thestrengthening of world democracy, and the advancement of neoliberaleconomic reforms, have exposed corruption as a major world problem andspawned a plethora of international and national anti-corruption programs. Past theorizing has increased our knowledge about corruption, however, aninterdisciplinary (political, economic, cultural) theory of the causes ofpolitical corruption has never emerged. This article develops amiddle-range interdisciplinary theory of the causes of corruption builtthrough employment of an institutional choice analytic frame. The analyticframe draws on the Institutional Analysis and Development work of ElinorOstrom, Roy Gardner, & James Walker, and the constructivist work ofNicholas Onuf. The resultant theory is advanced through a statisticalanalysis. The article concludes that ongoing international and nationalanti-corruption programs will likely fail unless they include reforms to stateinternal power structures and political cultures.


International Relation Development Work Power Structure Political Culture Resultant Theory 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael W. Collier
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of International RelationsFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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