Using rational choice theory to understand corruption in Indonesia

Main Article Content

Choky R. Ramadhan


Rational choice theory is used and developed to explain crime, criminals, crime prevention, and punishment (deterrent effect). According to this theory, criminals rationally consider the pleasure and suffering they will gain from committing a crime. Various theoretical and empirical studies have then developed factors that influence the rationality of criminals. This article details a collection of studies on rational choice theory and relates them to crimes of corruption. Literature on corruption crimes and efforts to prevent and eradicate them is often related to rational choice theory. Additionally, this article attempts to use rational choice theory to understand the perpetrators of corruption crimes in Sukamiskin Prison. This research is exploratory and uses dozens of unannounced inspection videos, interviews with offenders, publicly available news reports, and interviews with several parties who have visited Sukamiskin Prison. Sukamiskin Prison was chosen as a location of interest because the inmates who had been convicted of corruption crimes (corruptors) continued to engage in corrupt practices in the prison. Understanding the reasons and patterns of corruption can enrich our understanding of crimes of corruption in Indonesia using rational choice theory.

Article Details

How to Cite
Ramadhan, C. R. (2023). Using rational choice theory to understand corruption in Indonesia. Integritas : Jurnal Antikorupsi, 9(2), 171–182.
Author Biography

Choky R. Ramadhan, Universitas Indonesia

Fakultas Hukum, Universitas Indonesia


Agnew, R., Piquero, N. L., & Cullen, F. T. (2009). General strain theory and white-collar crime. In The criminology of white-collar crime, 35-60. New York, NY: Springer New York.

Apel, R., & Paternoster, R. (2009). Understanding “Criminogenic” corporate culture: What white-collar crime researchers can learn from studies of the adolescent employment–crime relationship. In The Criminology of White-Collar Crime. Springer, New York, NY.

Bates, C. (Ed.). (2014). Video methods : Social science research in motion. Taylor & Francis Group.

Beccaria, C. (1764). On crimes and punishment.

Becker, G., S. (1974). Crime and punishment: An economic approach. In Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punsihment, New York: National Bureau of Economic Research & Columbia University Press.

Bentham, J. (1789). An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation.

Bentham, J. (1870). Rationale of punishment, London: Robert Heward.

Berenschot, W. (2018). Incumbent bureaucrats: Why elections undermine civil service reform in Indonesia. Public Administration and Development, 38, 135–143.

Brown, R. P., Tamborski, M., Wang, X., Barnes, C. D., Mumford, M. D., Connelly, S., & Devenport, L. D. (2011). Moral credentialing and the rationalization of isconduct. Ethics & Behavior, 21(1), 1–12.

Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

Carson, L. D. (2014). Deterring corruption: Beyond rational choice theory.

Clifford, W. (1972). The standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners. American Journal of International Law, 66(5), 232–236.

Cressey, D. R. (1971). Other people’s money: Study in social psychology of embezzlement, Wadsworth Pub. Co.

Collier, M. W. (2002). Explaining corruption: An institutional choice approach. Crime, Law and Social Change, 38, 1–32.

Durlauf, S. N., & Nagin, D. S. (2011). Imprisonment and crime. Criminology & Public Policy, 10, 13-54.

Engdahl, O. (2008). The role of money in economic crime. British Journal of Criminology, 48(2), 154–170.

Farrales, M. J. (2005). What is corruption?: A history of corruption studies and the great definitions debate.

Filmer, D., & D. L. Lindauer. (2001). Does Indonesia have a “low pay” civil service? Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, 37, 189–205.

Foltz, J. D., & Opoku-Agyemang, K. A. (2015). Do higher salaries lower petty corruption? A policy experiment on West Africa’s highways. Unpublished Working Paper, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of California, Berkeley.

Fuller, R. C. (1942). Morals and the criminal law. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 32(6), 624-630.

Ganie-Rochman, M., & Achwan, R. (2016). Corruption in Indonesia’s emerging democracy. Journal of Developing Societies, 32(2), 159–177.

Geis, G., & Meier, R. F. (1977). White-collar crime offenses. Business, Politics, And The Professions, New York, Free Press.

Gerring, J. (2012). Social science methodology: A unified framework 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press.

Grabosky, P. (2009). Globalization and white-collar crime. The criminology of white-collar crime. Springer, New York.

Gustaman. (2012). Ini pertimbangan LP Sukamiskin khusus untuk koruptor. Tribunnews.Com.

Haines, F., & Macdonald, K. (2021). Grappling with injustice: Corporate crime, multinational business and interrogation of law in context. Theoretical Criminology, 25(2), 284-303.

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1979). Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk. Econometrica, 47(2), 263–291.

Van Klaveren, J. (2017). Corruption as a historical phenomenon. In Political Corruption, 83-94.

Klitgard, R. (1991). Controlling corruption, California: University of California Press.

Kristiansen, S., & Ramli, M. (2006). Buying an income: The market for civil service positions in Indonesia. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 28(2), 207–233.

Loughran, T. A., Paternoster, R., Chalfin, A., & Wilson, T. (2016). Can rational choice be considered a general theory of crime? Evidence from individual‐level panel data. Criminology, 54(1), 86-112.

Matsueda, R. L. (2017). Toward an analytical criminology: The micro–macro problem, causal mechanisms, and public policy. Criminology, 55(3), 493-519.

Matsueda, R. L. (2013). Rational choice research in criminology: A multi-level framework. Handbook of rational choice social research, 283-321.

Matsueda, R. L., Kreager, D. A., & Huizinga, D. (2006). Deterring delinquents: A rational choice model of theft and violence. American sociological review, 71(1), 95-122.

McLeod, R. H. (2008). Inadequate budgets and salaries as instruments for institutionalizing public sector corruption in Indonesia. South East Asia Research, 16(2), 199-223.

Muir, S., & Gupta, A. (2018). Rethinking the anthropology of corruption: An introduction to supplement 18. Current Anthropology, 59(S18), S4-S15.

Nagin, D. S. (2013). Deterrence: A review of the evidence by a criminologist for economist. Annual Review of Economics, 5, 83–105.

Nagin, D. S. (2013). Deterrence in the twenty-first century. Crime and Justice, 42(1), 199–263.

Newman, D. J. (1958). White-collar crime. Law and Contemporary Problems, 23(4), 735–753.

Nye, J. S. (1967). Corruption and political development: A cost-benefit analysis. American Political Science Review, 61(2), 417–427.

Paternoster, R., & Simpson, S. (1996). Sanction threats and appeals to morality: Testing a rational choice model of corporate crime. Law and Society Review, 3(30), 549-583.

Polinsky, M., & Shavell, S. (2004). Foundations of economic analysis of law. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Posner, R. A. (1985). An economic theory of the criminal law. Columbia Law Review, 85(6), 1193–1231.

Pradiptyo, R. (2012). Does corruption pay in Indonesia? If so, who are benefited the most?

Puteri, Ni Made M. (2018). Efek moderasi pemaknaan berbuat baik, identifikasi kelompok dan jenis pekerjaan terhadap hubungan antara mandat moral kelompok dengan penghukuman tingkahlaku gratifikasi. Universitas Indonesia, Dissertasi.

Ramadhan, C. R. (2021). Kebijakan pidana keras belum tentu cerdas: evaluasi kebijakan hukum pidana pemerintahan joko widodo 2014-2019. Jurnal Legislasi Indonesia, 18 (3), 364-384.

Ramadhan, C. R. (2022). Reviewing the indonesian anticorruption court: A cost-effective analysis. Law and Development Review, 15(1), 121-146.

Rose-Ackerman, S. (2010). The law and economics of bribery and extortion. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 6, 217-238.

Simmons, E., & Smith, N. (2017). Comparison with an ethnographic sensibility. PS: Political Science & Politics, 50(1), 126-130. doi:10.1017/S1049096516002286.

Sutherland, E. H. (1983). White collar crime (uncut version). New Haven: Yale University Press

Sykes, G. (2007). The society of captives: A study of a maximum security prison. Princeton University Press: New Jersey.

Stoler, A. L. (2009). Along the archival grain: Epistemic anxieties and colonial common sense. Princeton University Press.

Tidey, S. (2016). Between the ethical and the right thing: How (not) to be corrupt in Indonesian bureaucracy in an age of good governance. American Ethnologist, 43, 663-676.

Swedberg, R. (2020). Exploratory research. In The Production of Knowledge: Enhancing Progress in Social Science (Strategies for Social Inquiry). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Weaver, J. (2016). Jobs for sale: Corruption and misallocation in hiring. American Economic Review, 111(10), 3093-3122.

Yu, O. (2008). Corruption in China’s economic reform: A review of recent observations and explanations. Crime Law Soc Change, 50, 161–176.

Zimring, F. E., & Johnson, D. T. (2007). On the comparative study of corruption. In International Handbook of White-Collar and Corporate Crime. Springer, Boston, MA.