Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Michael J. Lynch, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

John K. Cochran, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shayne E. Jones, Ph.D.


Criminology, Macro-level theory, Political crime, Comparative, Cross-cultural


Extant assessments of Messner and Rosenfeld's institutional-anomie theory (1994) have generally supported the thesis that, in social collectives where the economy dominates, non-economic institutions (i.e. the family, education, polity) are rendered feeble, unable to exert their normative controls. The cultural values of these societies place primacy on "making it" (monetary success), while at the same time placing a much weaker emphasis on the licit means of achieving these goals. The resultant state is one of anomie, conducive to crime. Messner and Rosenfeld have extended their argument stating that it is not economic dominance per se that contributes to high crime rates, but any tip in the institutional balance of power. The current study examines one of these configurations which hypothesizes that, in nation-states where the state dominates other institutions, the dominant cultural orientation is one of moral cynicism, conducive to corruption-prone behaviors. Using macro-level data, the current study assesses the efficacy of this alternate configuration of institutional-anomie theory as a predictor of corruption cross-nationally. Using a sample of 125 nations, state dominance is positively related to corruption. The effects of the state were both mediated and moderated by economic strength, measured as levels of industrialization.