The rise of the international anti-corruption industry over the past two decades has led to questions about how this industry impacts local civil society organizations in developing countries. For some academics the rise of the anti-corruption industry has led to more meaningful local responses, for others it has helped reinforce apolitical and neoliberal-inspired solutions. This article suggests that these debates would benefit from more nuanced and multi-scalar analysis. Drawing on in depth interviews, media analysis, grey materials and academic and practitioner literature, this article focuses on a group of anti-corruption activists in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The article compares a group of activists called the Coalition to its more radical predecessors, a local non-governmental organization by the name of Melanesian Solidarity. It uses a Gramscian framework to argue that responses to corruption in PNG have not simply been shaped by the anti-corruption industry. Rather they have been shaped by: the incentives and capacity of political society, international discourse on corruption and the nature of 'translocal encounters'. These findings show that much of the academic literature on the anti-corruption industry has fallen into a 'transnational trap', by overemphasizing transnational linkages between organizations working to address corruption. Approaching the study of local anti-corruption movements with a focus on the complexity of scale, as this paper does, has important implications for theorizing responses to corruption in developing countries.