Corruption is more complex than the definition implies

Corruption in Texas is not always cut and dried. Often, the forms it takes can go unnoticed and blur the lines between what is legal and what is not.

Current anti-corruption policies rely on potentially outdated definitions. These policies then cause unintended consequences that can harm innocent parties.

Alternative definition

The Stanford Law School “Working Paper Series” illustrates how the definition currently stands and fails to capture the complexity of modern corruption. The prevailing definition states that corruption is “an abuse of public office for private gain.” The authors suggest an alternative definition focused more on unauthorized benefits that erode the public’s ability to trust a specific organization.

The current definition fails to clearly define what constitutes an abuse. Not all of those who commit corruption are in public office but can still “abuse” a set of policies for their personal gain. In fact, the personal gain may not even be the goal of corruption. The “abuse” may help an organization achieve a much larger goal.

Unintended consequences

According to the World Wildlife Fund, corruption causes unintended consequences that can negatively affect the economy and the environment. Businesses can use bribery to commit environmental crimes by influencing who politicians favor for fishery quotas or timber concessions. Illegal transport of wildlife increases by bribing officials meant to protect these species.

Environmental harm comes from bribing officials to build manufacturing plants or roads that cause destruction. These types of consequences negatively affect the local community. Law enforcement officials who take these bribes can then allow for further destruction continuing the cycle of harm to locals and current conservation efforts.