While attention to corruption and anticorruption policies has increased dramatically in research and in policy, the results of many anticorruption and so-called good-governance programs have so far been unimpressive. I argue that this lack of success can be explained by the reliance on a theoretical approach-namely, the “principal-agent theory”-that seriously misconstrues the basic nature of the corruption problem. In this essay, I contend that the theory of collective action is a more fruitful foundation for developing anticorruption policies. I suggest that policy measures based on a collective-action understanding of corruption will be much less direct-and ultimately more effective-than approaches derived from the principal-agent theory. Taking inspiration from military theorist Basil Liddell Hart's “indirect approach” strategy, I argue that decision-makers should focus on policies that change the basic social contract, instead of relying solely on measures that are intended to change incentives for corrupt actors.