Moral hyperactivity in corporations
: Is corporate governance the solution?

  • Adriana Groot

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisJD (Juris Doctor)


Until recently, moral hyperactivity in US corporate settings has primarily gone unnoticed in academic research. This is in large part due to the closed-door secrecy of the inner workings of corporate governance.

Currently, when examining moral hyperactivity, academic literature primarily does so in the context of moralism’s impact on society. Additionally, corporate governance academic literature focuses on corporate theory, case law, and measurable data, largely ignoring the impact corporate managers personal ideologies’ can have on their employees. The purpose of this dissertation is to define moral hyperactivity in corporations and to determine the mitigating factors within corporate governance that allow employers to impose their moral ideology on employees.

The research will address five key aims: (1) To determine why moral hyperactivity occurs in corporations and how it impacts employees. (2) To examine the literature on corporate policies that qualify as moral hyperactivity and examine how corporate governance leads to abuses of power by managers. (3) To identify the impact corporate personhood has had on corporate governance and discuss why personhood is often identified as the cause for expanding corporations’ ability to claim Constitutional protections and allow religious beliefs to influence corporate policies. (4) To discuss how existing corporate governance and shareholder primacy facilitates moral hyperactivity and how anti-discrimination laws and labor laws have failed to effectively protect employees. (5) To outline changes that could address this phenomenon in corporations.

Currently, corporate managers’ moral imposition on employees goes unchecked due to a lack of effective monitoring and oversight from corporate boards. This allows managers to implement policies and practices on employees with the goal of forcing employees to conform to a specific moral ideology. Employees have little recourse due to a lack of representation in the corporation and a gap within existing laws that fails to account for moral hyperactivity from employers. This dissertation will recommend corporations begin to shift away from shareholder primacy and towards stakeholder primacy. Additionally, it will recommend the board become more active in its monitoring of managerial interactions with employees and utilize non-financial key performance indicators, such as employee satisfaction, to assess managers’ performance within the corporation. Finally, it will suggest different models of codetermination as a blueprint for the US to implement codetermination into its current corporate structures.
Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorCiarán O'Kelly (Supervisor) & Ciara Hackett (Supervisor)


  • Corporate governance
  • morality
  • employee
  • corporations
  • employee treatment
  • moral hyperactivity
  • hyperactive ethics
  • corporate law
  • corporate boards
  • managers
  • codetermination
  • corporate structuring
  • corporate theory

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