Is Corruption (Bribery) in Indonesia Institutionally Strengthened?

Corruption is seemingly created by a collective action problem within society: each of individuals in the society demanding for resources allocated by their government official has an incentive to pay bribes to try to obtain special treatment, but all of them would all be better off if they could collectively commit not to pay bribes.

Consider “You” and “I” that belong to “We”. We, under competitive situation, suffer from scarcity (= limited resources among unlimited wants or unlimited activities). You/I have to choose an activity from available activities. Before choosing the activity, you/I have to compare one available activity from another based on benefit-cost consideration.

In choosing the activity, you and I are in an interdependent-strategic situation . What you/I choose depend on what I/you choose. (This is a game-theoretic perspective!). Assume that there are two alternative strategies available for you and me: (1) paying bribes or (2) not paying bribes.

At first (ex ante), all of us collectively might agree (under moral considerations) not to pay bribes. But (ex post), each one is “trapped” into paying bribes (because each one has incentives to do so) unless no one pays bribes first. So there is a Nash equilibrium point: everyone pays bribes. As if, everyone is coordinated by “the bribe-paying choice”. (A Nash equilibrium can be interpreted as a pair of expectations about each person’s choice such that, when the other person’s choice is revealed, neither individual wants to change his/her behavior.)

If so, corruption (bribery) could be considered as convention (Lewis 1969/2002): I know that you expect to pay bribes, and you know that I expect to pay bribes. You know that…., and I know that…. Everyone expects another one to pay bribes. Everyone knows that each one expects another one to pay bribes. (Even you insist that you actually did not pay bribes, one might accuse you of having paid bribes). The bribe-paying choice becomes common knowledge for you and me.

The issue to be raised is: Is bribery being such a convention that everyone expects another one to pay bribes to try to get special treatment from (corruptible) public officials?”. If the question is empirically proved to be correct, three things need to be explained: (1) how the convention arise, (2) how the convention is maintained, and (3) How the convention displaces another.

One Response to “Is Corruption (Bribery) in Indonesia Institutionally Strengthened?”

  1. Korupsi sepertinya memang telah membudaya di Indonesia. Disadari atau tidak, diakui atau tidak itu telah menjadi bagian di mayoritas aktivitas penyediaan pelayanan publik. Namun, apakah budaya yang telah mendarah-daging di mayoritas pelaku (oknum) penyedia layanan publik tersebut bisa dijustifikasi sebagai sebuah budaya organisasi ? Sehingga judul dari artikel ini adalah “institutionally”. Apa bukan “intentionally” ?
    Bahwa kebetulan mayoritas pelaku adalah orang yang memiliki kewenangan strategis (kalo gak strategis ya gak ada yang mau nyogok he..he..) bukan berarti itu cerminan tindakan institusi kan ?

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