It is common-place for folks to claim that the reason why poor countries are poor is because they are plagued with corrpution. And there should be no doubt that predatory practice by private and public actors is detrimental to growth. But the evidence is not quite so clear that all acts of corruption should be considered predatory in this sense.
Chris Blattman argues that many development experts overstate the case against corruption. He argues that: "Most of us fail to imagine that corruption can also grease the wheels of prosperity. Yet in places where bureaucracies and organizations are inefficient (meaning entrepreneurs and big firms struggle to transport or export or comply with regulation), corruption could improve efficiency and growth. Bribes can act like a piece rate or price discrimination, and give faster or better service to the firms with highest opportunity cost of waiting." This is an important argument to consider.
Back in 2003, Professor Enrico Colombatto made similar argument in a paper "Why Is Corruption Tolerated?" that was published in the Review of Austrian Economics 16 (4), 363-79. This paper should be read more and incorporated into the contemporary discussions of corruption and development.
John Wallis's (2006) thorough examination of corrpution in US history is another example of someone who understand the points raised by Blattman about (a) the greasing of the wheels of prosperity, and (b) that corruption is not the cause, but the symptom, and as such is an indication of a deeper instituitonal issue that must be addressed if prosperity is to be achieved and poverty is to be avoided.