Although we build on and want to contribute to de Graaf et al.’s theorizing project, we want to stress that by turning to theory, we do not just mean turning to established theoretical approaches and incorporating these into the study of corruption, seemingly as fetishes or ‘full bodies’ (Badiou, 2009). In the end, that is where de Graaf et al. end up; they turn to rather well-established theoretical frameworks for studying corruption, such as Weber, structural-functionalist perspectives, and institutional economics. In addition to the use of established theory, this special issue calls for the application of novel theories to understand corruption. Thus, the contributions in our special issue are linked to the ideas of de Graaf et al., but are attempting to elaborate further and to engage creatively with the prospect of turning towards new pathways in the maze of theorizing.
While the state and its bureaucrats are major players in the reform-era economy, new interests and concentrations of economic have been created, without legitimate channels between administrators and entrepreneurs.  A lack of regulation and supervision has meant these roles are not clearly demarcated (Lü Xiaobo in his text titles one section "From Apparatchiks to Entrepreneurchiks").  Illicit guandao enterprises formed by networks of bureaucrats and entrepreneurs are allowed to grow, operating behind a facade of a government agency or state-owned enterprise, in a realm neither fully public nor private.  More recently, Ben Hillman has shown how official corruption is facilitated by intrastate patronage networks. According to Hillman, patronage networks 'grease the wheels' of a dysfunctional bureaucracy while simultaneously extracting spoils for the private benefit of their members. Patronage networks also protect transgressors from intrusion by the Party-state's disciplinary agencies. Hillman's study of patronage networks helps to explain how corruption and economic development have been able to coexist in China.