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GIFT GIVING – a cultural practice in many societies, by which people offer presents and favours in various circumstances according to local customs. Problems arise when gift giving to and by public officials contradicts the principles of impartiality, professionalism, and meritocracy. In exchange for a gift, the official is expected to show preferential treatment to the giver. In those cases, gift-giving can be regarded as bribery.

GOVERNANCE – a concept that goes beyond the traditional notion of government to focus on the relationships between leaders, public institutions and citizens, including the processes by which they make and implement decisions. The term can also be applied to companies and NGOs. Good governance is characterised as being participatory, accountable, transparent, efficient, responsive and inclusive, respecting the rule of law and minimising opportunities for corruption.

GRAFT – the verb refers to the obtaining of money dishonestly by exploiting one’s position of power, especially political power. Graft is understood as political corruption with an element of greediness. Graft as a noun refers to the rewards of corruption: the loot, booty, payoffs, or spoils.

GRAND CORRUPTION – the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many, and causes serious and widespread harm to individuals and society. It often goes unpunished. The kinds of transactions that attract grand corruption are usually large in scale – and therefore involve more money than bureaucratic or ‘petty’ corruption. See also CORRUPTION, PETTY CORRUPTION, and POLITICAL CORRUPTION.

GREASE MONEY – these are simply bribes, seen from the angle of the briber and alluding to the ‘drop of oil given to a squeaky wheel’ of excessive bureaucracy to make the things move smoothly again. Synonyms: softener, sweetener, gift.


HOLISTIC APPROACH – to address corruption effectively, conventional wisdom holds that a ‘holistic approach’ is needed. Such an approach examines all institutions and practices within a given country that are relevant to maintaining honest government and private sector institutions. These include the executive, legislature and judiciary, businesses, the media, civil society organisations, etc.