Corruption takes many different forms, from the routine cases of bribery or petty abuse of power to the amassing of spectacular personal wealth through embezzlement or other dishonest means. Bribery enables multinationals to gain contracts (particularly for public works and military equipment) or concessions that they would not otherwise have won, or to do so on more favourable terms.

The Corner House addresses corruption-related issues involving the activities of UK companies overseas. Its focus has been on holding these companies to account, on politically-lax cultures in the North rather than the South, and on the grand corruption of wealthy multinationals rather than the petty corruption of low-paid civil servants.