Ciarán O'Kelly

Ciarán O'Kelly

Lecturer in corporate governance

School of Law, Queen's University Belfast

About me

I am a Lecturer in Corporate Governance in the School of Law at Queen’s University Belfast. I teach on our LLMs in International Business Law and International Business Law including Placement. I also teach Company Law and Corporate Governance on our LLB programme.

My main research interests focus on how to think about the corporate purpose, especially with regard to standard models of the shareholder-oriented corporation. I am also interested in normative questions around ideas of accountability, whether at the individual level or at the level of the corporation itself. So I read widely, from company law to public administration to social and political philosophy.

I welcome PhD proposals on accountability, corporate governance and social responsibility, business and human rights, and on organisational accountability, corruption and ethics more generally. This website contains links to my research.


  • Corporate Governance
  • Moral economy
  • Accountability
  • Computational text analysis


  • PhD in Political Philosophy, 2003

    University of Reading

  • MA in Political Theory, 1996

    University College Dublin

  • BA (mod) Economics and Philosophy, 1995

    Trinity College Dublin

Recent Publications

Corporate social responsibility and the grammar of human rights

This paper explores the language of corporate accounts of business and human rights. Using innovative methods drawn from computational …

Dissecting the semantics of accountability and its misuse

We focus on Mark Bovens’s use of the forum metaphor in his accountability model. The forum metaphor has emerged as a fundamental …

The Moral Economy of Corporate Governance

This book is about how these firms are imagined as moral actors, both internally and through law, and about how their moral agency must …

Whose Corruption? Which Law? Law's Authority and Social Power

This paper focuses on ‘legal but corrupt’ from a pluralist perspective. The plurality of state and non-state laws under …

Corporate Governance as a School of Social Reform

In this paper, I present a vision of the corporation as a moral person. I point to ‘the separation of ownership and …




School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast

Jan 2007 – Present Northern Ireland
Specialising in corporate governance; accountability; moral language; and corporate responsibility

ESRC Research Fellow

Institute of Governance, Queen’s University Belfast

Sep 2005 – Dec 2006 Northern Ireland
Associated with Research Project RES No 156-25-0033: Regulatory Regime Change in World Financial Markets

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Institute of Governance, Queen’s University Belfast

Sep 2003 – Aug 2005 Northern Ireland

Lecturer in Politics

University of Reading

Sep 2001 – Aug 2003 UK

Recent Posts

Child Poverty and Race, USA 2016

This week’s Tidy Tuesday invited us to examine county-level census data from 2016 in the United States (sourced here). I have been poking around in the data and discovered an interesting visual artefact in the following otherwise unsurprising quick plot: ## `geom_smooth()` using formula 'y ~ x' I split the USA’s 3,142 counties (excluding Puerto Rico) into regions, based on the US Census Bureau’s four statistical regions (pdf).

Australia's legal profession and the gender income gap (and learning slopegraphs)

The R for Data Science community has been running a ‘Tidy Tuesday’ project for a few weeks. In essence they link to a data-driven paper and a somewhat tidy version of the paper’s underlying dataset. The challenge is to develop some visualisations etc from the data, all within the R for Data Science approach to working with R. This week’s challenge is drawn from an article on Australia’s pay gap.

Belfast trees

I was poking around the Open Data NI website this evening when I stumbled across the Belfast trees dataset. The dataset provides a location for each of 37,557 trees in the city (as of November 2015) plus its species, health and diameter. There’s a nice tree map here but I thought I might practice my R mapping skills for a bit of fun.