A simple definition of state capture is the domination of government policy making by private, often corporate, power. It is recognizable when public bureaucracies become dominated by strong and powerful interest groups. State capture, however, is not just about biasing public policy so that it systematically favours some corporations over others. It is also about strategically weakening that part of the state’s law enforcement mechanism that might crackdown on corruption.
There are varieties of this phenomenon. Systemic state capture refers to institutions that affect the internal and external sovereignty of the state and limit its policy options to those that favour powerful sectors that stand to benefit. "Full-on" state capture is where corporations can influence the nature of the legislative process. The whole policy-making structure of the state becomes commodified. In its most expressed form, state capture describes a form of corruption in which businesses and politicians conspire to influence a country’s decision-making process to advance their own interests. As most democracies have laws to make sure this does not happen, state capture also involves weakening those laws and neutralizing any agencies that enforce them.