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Bribery vs. Corruption: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 1, 2024
Bribery involves offering something of value for a favor, while corruption is a broader term encompassing illegal practices like bribery, fraud, and embezzlement.

Key Differences

Bribery is a specific act of offering something valuable to influence someone's behavior. Corruption, on the other hand, is a broader term that can include bribery, but also encompasses other unethical practices such as embezzlement and fraud.
Corruption is often seen as a systemic issue within organizations or governments. It represents the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Bribery, as a part of corruption, is a tool used within this system to manipulate decisions or actions.
In bribery, there are typically two parties involved: one offering the bribe and one accepting it. Corruption, however, can be a more complex and systematic problem involving multiple individuals and layers of deceit.
Bribery can be seen as a transaction, where something of value is exchanged for a specific service or outcome. In contrast, corruption may not always involve direct transactions but can manifest in various forms of dishonest or fraudulent behaviors.
Both bribery and corruption undermine ethical standards and trust. While bribery directly impacts the integrity of individuals, corruption can erode the foundational structures of societies and institutions.

Comparison Chart


Offering something valuable for influence
Broad term for unethical practices


Involves specific transactions
Can be systemic and involve various actions


Usually two parties: giver and receiver
Can involve multiple individuals


Direct exchange of value for favor
Includes bribery, fraud, embezzlement

Impact on Institutions

Affects individual integrity
Can erode institutional trust and ethics

Bribery and Corruption Definitions


Involves a quid pro quo, something given for something in return.
The bribery involved exchanging insider information for stock tips.


Misuse of power for personal gain.
The mayor's corruption was exposed in the real estate scandal.


The act of offering something valuable to influence a decision.
The contractor committed bribery by offering money to secure the contract.


Systemic dishonesty or unethical behavior in institutions.
Corruption in the organization led to several unfair hiring practices.


Exchanging gifts or favors to sway someone's actions.
Bribery was evident when the official received a luxury watch for favoring a policy.


Eroding integrity within a system or organization.
The corruption in the government undermined public trust.


Illegally influencing someone's decision-making process.
Bribery was used to bypass legal procedures in the court case.


A broad term encompassing various illegal activities.
The investigation revealed corruption at multiple levels of the administration.


Offering money or gifts to alter a person's behavior.
The athlete faced charges for accepting bribery to lose the game.


Involves practices like bribery, fraud, and embezzlement.
The company's corruption scandal involved large-scale financial fraud.


The act or practice of offering, giving, or taking a bribe.


The act or process of corrupting.


The making of illegal payment, or bribes, to persons in official positions as a means of influencing their decisions


The state of being corrupt.


(legal) the activity of giving, offering or accepting bribes


Robbery; extortion.


The act or practice of giving or taking bribes; the act of influencing the official or political action of another by corrupt inducements.


The practice of offering something (usually money) in order to gain an illicit advantage


What is bribery?

Bribery is offering value to influence someone's decision.

Is corruption always about money?

No, it can involve other forms of personal gain.

Are gifts always considered bribery?

Not always, but they can be if intended to influence decisions.

How is corruption defined?

Corruption is the misuse of power for personal gain.

Can bribery be legal?

No, bribery is illegal.

Can bribery influence political decisions?

Yes, it often targets decision-making processes.

Is bribery a form of corruption?

Yes, it's one form of corrupt practices.

Can corruption be systemic?

Yes, it can be a widespread issue within systems.

Does bribery require two parties?

Typically, yes – one to offer and one to accept.

Is corruption only a government problem?

No, it can occur in any sector, including private and public.

How does bribery affect business?

It undermines fair competition and integrity.

Can corruption occur in private companies?

Yes, corruption can occur in any organization.

Is nepotism a form of corruption?

Yes, it's favoritism based on relationships, not merit.

Can whistleblowers expose corruption?

Yes, whistleblowers are often key in exposing corruption.

Is bribery ever ethical?

No, it's considered unethical.

What's the impact of corruption on society?

It erodes trust and can hinder economic and social development.

Is embezzlement a type of corruption?

Yes, it's a form of corrupt behavior.

Are there laws against corruption?

Yes, many countries have laws to combat corruption.

Can anti-corruption measures be effective?

Yes, with proper enforcement and education, they can be.

Can a small gift be considered bribery?

If it's meant to influence, it could be seen as bribery.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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