International Science Index

Democratisation, Business Activism, and the New Dynamics of Corruption and Clientism in Indonesia

This paper investigates the relationship between state and business in the context of structural and institutional transformations in Indonesia following the collapse of the New Order regime in 1998. Since 1998, Indonesia has embarked on a shift from an authoritarian to democratic polity and from a centralised to a decentralised system of governance, transforming the country into the third largest democracy and one of the most decentralised states in the world. This paper examines whether the transformation of the Indonesian state has altered the pattern of state and business relations with focus on clientism and corruption as the key dependent variable, and probes how/to what extent this has changed as a result of the transformation and the ensuring shifts in business and state relations. Based on interviews with key government and business actors as well as prominent scholars in Indonesia, it is found that since the demise of the New Order, business associations in Indonesia have become more independent of state control and more influential in public decision-making whereas the government has become more responsive of business concerns and more committed to combat corruption and clientism. However, these changes have not necessarily rendered business people completely leave individualclientelistic relationship with the government, and simply pursue wider sectoral and business-wide collectivism as an alternative way of channelling their aspirations, which is expected to help reduce corruption and clientism in Indonesia. This paper concludes that democratisation and a more open politics may have helped reduce corruption and clientism in Indonesia through changes in government. However, it is still difficult to imply that such political transformation has fostered business collective action and a broader, more encompassing pattern of business lobbying and activism, which is expected to help reduce corruption and clientism.

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