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Dr Alice Klettner


Alice Klettner is a Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Corporate Governance, University of Technology Sydney.  Previously a practising solicitor, Alice approaches the topic of corporate governance from a legal and regulatory angle.  Research interests include: the role and responsibilities of boards of directors; regulation of corporate sustainability; and gender diversity in leadership.  The underlying theme of this research is to explore and better understand the impact of law and regulation on organisational behaviour.

Alice has a first class honours degree in Natural Sciences (physiology and psychology) from Cambridge University, a Masters in International Law from Sydney University and her PhD examined the effectiveness of soft law in regulating corporate governance.  She has taught at both undergraduate and postgraduate level in the areas of business law, corporations law, strategic management, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Image of Alice Klettner
Chancellor's Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Management Discipline Group
Associate Member, LRC - Law
Core Member, CCG - Centre for Corporate Governance
BA(Hons) Natural Sciences (Cantab), MIL (Syd), PhD Law (UTS)
+61 2 9514 3604
Can supervise: Yes


Clarke, T. & Klettner, A. 2017, The Global Financial Crisis and Regulatory Response: A Concise Guide, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Klettner, A. 2017, Corporate Governance Regulation The changing roles and responsibilities of boards of directors, Routledge, UK.
Corporate governance regulation has been through numerous cycles of reform, and yet we still see instances of companies collapsing suddenly. Codes of corporate governance have been implemented in most developed countries, recommending detailed governance frameworks for publicly listed companies and their boards, but our understanding of how these codes influence behaviour is still limited. In this book, Alice Klettner draws on the domains of law and business to explore the effectiveness of corporate governance codes. Using interview evidence from company directors and officers, as well as published evidence of companies' corporate governance systems, she discusses the theory and practice of corporate governance and its regulation – with a focus on how corporate governance codes can affect board behaviour and company performance. This interdisciplinary book will be valuable reading for advanced students and researchers of corporate governance, and will also be directly relevant to governance practitioners and policymakers.
Clarke, T., Nielsen, B.B., Nielsen, S., Klettner, A.L. & Boersma, M. 2012, Australian Census of Women in Leadership, 1, Australian Government EOWA, Sydney, Australia.
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A research book commissioned by the Austrlan Government Equal Opportunity Agency. This work reports the results of the 2012 Australian Census of Women in Leadership. The survey includes an analysis of the ASX 500 companies boards and executives gender diversity; gender diversity in public sector boards; and comparison with international initiatives in gender diversity in leadership positions. The work provides a detailed analysis of a large data base, and analytical commentary of the results. There is an assessment of remaining obstacles to achieving greater diversity, and analysis of what is required to create a better pipeline for the development of women for leadership.


Klettner, A.L. 2017, 'Governing corporate responsibility: the role of soft regulation' in Aras, G. & Ingley, C. (eds), Corporate Behavior and Sustainability: Doing well by being good, Routledge, London and New York, pp. 83-102.
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Klettner, A.L. 2012, 'Corporate governance and the global financial crisis: The regulatory response' in Clarke, T. & Branson, D. (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Corporate Governance, SAGE, London, pp. 556-584.
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Corporate governance regulation invariably follows the business cycle. In times or crisis and collapse there is public pressure to increase regulation in oreler to prevenl similar problems occurring in future. When the economy is booming, serious consideration of corporate governance regulation is confined to the desks of company secretaries, regulators and interested academics. This is not to say that corporate governance practices are abandoned in good times, only that the status quo is accepted and there is less impetus for review and improvement (Clarke, 2004).
Clarke, T. & Klettner, A.L. 2009, 'Implementing corporate social responsibility: A creative tension between regulation and corporate initiatives?' in Aras, G. & Crowther, D. (eds), Global Perspectives on Corporate Governance and CSR, Gower Publishing/Ashgate, Surrey, England, pp. 269-312.
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Clarke, T. & Klettner, A.L. 2009, 'The development of corporate governance in Australia' in Jolly, A. & Burmajster, A. (eds), The Handbook of International Corporate Governance, Institute of Directors and Kogan Page, London and Philadelphia, pp. 334-345.
A well-established corporate governance framework should ensure that corporate boards effectively monitor managerial performance and achieve an equitable return for shareholders - reinforcing the values of fairness, transparency, accountability and responsibility. But new legislation - notably the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the US, and the UK's Companies Act - means new duties and benchmarks for directors and senior managers, particularly for those with cross-jurisdictional responsibilities. With commentary from the World Bank, BP, 3i, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Watson Wyatt, "The Handbook of International Corporate Governance" looks at shareholder rights and directors' responsibilities, issues relating to control and disclosure, and the relevant legislation and codes of practice. There is a major section of the book that provides coverage of corporate governance practice for 21 separate jurisdictions, as well as five regional overviews, with each profile focusing on key areas such as the development of laws, models and codes; board structures; shareholder rights; disclosure and transparency; responsibility; directors; and, executive pay and performance.


Chelliah, J., Boersma, M. & Klettner, A. 2015, 'Governance Challenges for Not-For-Profit Organisations: Empirical Evidence in Support of a Contingency Approach', Australasian Conference on Business and Social Sciences 2015, Sydney, Sydney.
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Clarke, T., Chelliah, J., Klettner, A. & Boersma, M. 2014, 'Governance challenges for not-for-profit organisations: empirical evidence in support of a contingency approach.', 28 th ANZAM Conference 2014, ANZAM, Sydney, pp. 1-11.
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ABSTRACT: This article presents evidence of the governance challenges faced by Australian not-for-profit (NFP) organisations. We find a key challenge for NFPs is recruiting individuals with appropriate skills, as directors are volunteers often elected by the membership and frequently lack relevant experience. Another issue is balancing the needs of a diverse constituency with competing demands. We find that the often proposed solution to this challenge – stakeholder representation on boards – can further hinder the recruitment of suitable directors and create tensions detrimental to board effectiveness. We argue to shift focus away from normative governance models towards a contingency approach and posit a role for a national NFP sector regulator in assisting to develop appropriate governance systems according to contextual factors.
Clarke, T. & Klettner, A. 2014, 'Advancing Women in Leadership: Multi-Level Targets and Mandatory Quotas Impact on Cultural Change', European Academy of Management, Valencia, Spain, pp. 1-40.
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Clarke, T. & Klettner, A.L. 2010, 'Corporate Governance: Investigating the Reform of Boards and Directors', 2010 European Academy of Management EURAM, SYMPOSIUM 1: Management in Tommorowland: Exploring the challenges & the seeds of sustainable management, European Academy of Management EURAM, Tor Vergata University, Rome Italy, pp. 1-39.
CHAIR TRACK 7: Corporate Governance and the crisis of financialisation This paper draws together the legal and management literature relevant to the theory and design of qualitative empirical research in the field of corporate governance. It goes on to provide a detailed description of an empirical project carried out by the authors. This project involved interviews with representatives of 67 Australian companies, ranging in size from large multinationals to small start-ups, and was designed to investigate the response of those companies to legal and regulatory developments in the area of corporate governance. This paper will discuss the theoretical issues and practical difficulties of qualitative empirical research as well as its value in better understanding complex regulatory systems. The later part of the paper will highlight some of the key findings of our project within the context of the relevant legal and regulatory environment.
Klettner, A.L. 2007, 'Areas for Future Corporate Governance Reform in Australia: Lessons from the James Hardie Saga', Law and Society Conference, Law and Society Conference, Law and Society Conference, Berlin.

Journal articles

Klettner, A.L., Clarke, T. & Boersma, M. 2016, 'Strategic and Regulatory Approaches to Increasing Women in Leadership: Multilevel Targets and Mandatory Quotas as Levers for Cultural Change', Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 133, no. 3, pp. 395-419.
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While substantial evidence is emerging internationally of positive increases in the participation of women on company boards, there is less evidence of any significant change in the proportion of women in senior executive ranks. This paper describes evidence of positive changes in the number of women on boards in Australia. Unfortunately these changes are not mirrored in the senior executive ranks where the proportion of women remains consistently low. We explore some of the reasons for these disproportionate changes and examine the likely effect of the recent amendments to the Australian stock exchange's corporate governance code designed to improve gender diversity both on boards and throughout organisations. Based on the early corporate response to these regulatory changes, it is interesting to consider whether Australia's approach in promoting voluntary self-regulation at the corporate level may be as effective in the long run as the emerging trend in Europe to apply legislated quotas for female corporate board representation. Interview evidence is presented suggesting that the primary reasons for the lack of women in leadership are not simply lack of opportunity at the apex of the corporation, but issues at mid-management level that are unlikely to be resolved by mandatory board quotas. In some circumstances carefully monitored voluntary targets may be more effective at promoting cultural and strategic change at the heart of the corporation. In summary, mandatory quotas (set through hard law usually with sanctions for noncompliance) may achieve early and significant results in terms of female board representation. However, voluntary targets for women's participation on boards and in executive ranks (proposed in soft regulation such as corporate governance codes and set as part of corporate strategy) may promote more effective cultural and practical change in support of greater representation of women in leadership.
Chelliah, J., Boersma, M. & Klettner, A. 2016, 'Governance Challenges for Not-for-Profit Organisations: Empirical Evidence in Support of A Contingency Approach', Contemporary Management Research, vol. 12, no. 1.
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This article presents empirical evidence of the governance challenges faced by Australian not-for-profit (NFP) organisations. There is a dearth of academic research in the not-for-profit sector on issues of governance. Using survey and interview data, we explore what NFP leaders believe are key governance challenges, and what this means for theory and practice of NFP governance. We demonstrate that the effectiveness of governance systems is influenced by internal and external contingencies that NFP organisations face, such as variations in board roles, stakeholder and membership demands, funding arrangements, board member recruitment processes, skills of board members, and resources for training and development. We argue for a shift of focus away from prescriptive and normative NFP governance models, and contend that generic best practice governance standards for NFPs ought not to be further pursued, and that a contingency approach is more promising.
Klettner, A.L. 2016, 'Corporate Governance Codes and Gender Diversity: Management-Based Regulation in Action', University of New South Wales Law Journal, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 715-739.
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Chelliah, J., Boersma, M. & Klettner, A. 2015, 'The role of a national regulator in developing solutions to governance challenges in the not-for-profit sector.', Journal of Developing Areas, vol. 49, no. 6, pp. 449-458.
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This article presents empirical evidence of the governance challenges faced by not-for-profit (NFP) organisations. Drawing on interviews and survey data, the paper explores perceptions of NFP leaders concerning governance challenges, drawing implications for theory and practice. The research shows that NFPs face internal and external contingencies that determine effectiveness of governance systems. The study finds that considerable variation in the roles of boards exists. This has theoretical consequences, as the usefulness of stewardship, agency, resource-dependence and stakeholder theory varies according to the directives of NFP boards, and provides empirical evidence in favour of taking a contingency approach towards theories concerning NFP boards. The study further shows that director recruitment is challenging, particularly for NFPs with membership-based board models, as the constitution often determines a pool from which must be sourced. This often leads to directors not being recruited based on skills, which in turn increases the importance of skills development. While many respondents state they provide training, interviewees indicate that lack of time and resources pose practical obstacles. We contend that this lack of resources represents a contingency that can negatively impact board functioning. The findings furthermore suggest that funding dynamics can negatively impact accountability and governance. Specifically the fact that government is the largest donor in the sample, while the recipients of services are the most important stakeholders. While donor and stakeholder representation on boards may help to mitigate donor dependency and asymmetric accountability, the study finds that NFPs are often unable to recruit directors with appropriate skills. As it is also challenging to facilitate training due to the lack of resources, the result is a conflicting dynamic between the demand for skills and stakeholder representation on governance bodies. Respond...
Klettner, A., Clarke, T. & Boersma, M. 2014, 'The Governance of Corporate Sustainability: Empirical Insights into the Development, Leadership and Implementation of Responsible Business Strategy', Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 122, no. 1, pp. 145-165.
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This article explores how corporate governance processes and structures are being used in large Australian companies to develop, lead and implement corporate responsibility strategies. It presents an empirical analysis of the governance of sustainability in fifty large listed companies based on each company's disclosures in annual and sustainability reports. We find that significant progress is being made by large listed Australian companies towards integrating sustainability into core business operations. There is evidence of leadership structures being put in place to ensure that board and senior management are involved in sustainability strategy development and are then incentivised to monitor and ensure implementation of that strategy through financial rewards. There is evidence of a willingness to engage and communicate clearly the results of these strategies to interested stakeholders. Overall, there appears to be a developing acceptance amongst large corporations that efforts towards improved corporate sustainability are not only expected but are of value to the business. We suggest that this is evidence of a managerial shift away from an orthodox shareholder primacy understanding of the corporation towards a more enlightened shareholder value approach, often encompassing a stakeholder-orientated view of business strategy. However, strong underlying tensions remain due to the insistent market emphasis on shareholder value. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
Klettner, A.L., Clarke, T. & Boersma, M. 2013, 'The impact of soft law on social change: Measurable objectives for achieving gender diversity on board of directors', Australian Journal of Corporate Law, vol. 28, pp. 148-176.
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In 2010 the Australian Securities Exchange's Principles of Corporate Governance were amended to include three new recommendations dealing with gender diversity in listed corporations. The recommendations suggest that companies implement a diversity policy, set measurable objectives for achieving gender diversity and measure the number of women at various levels of the organisation. This article examines companies early response to the amendments. It presents an empirical analysis of the disclosures made by ASX 200 companies in their 2011 annual reports. The article builds on and develops research carried out by the authors for the 2012 Australian Census of Women in Leadership which found that, although the number of women on corporate boards had increased since 2010, there was not a similar increase in women in senior executive teams. It presents evidence that there are positive changes being implemented in the majority of ASX 200 companies that should, over time, make a difference to the ability of women to reach positions of leadership. The Australian approach of encouraging change through organisation-wide policy improvements and targets will hopefully improve female representation along the length of the pipeline to leadership and not only at the top. The ASX policy was formulated in the context of an international debate regarding the relative benefits of quotas and targets in achieving gender diversity on boards. In major European countries mandatory quotas were adopted, while in Australia and other countries voluntary targets set. Quotas secure substantial change through compliance, while targets may encourage change through strategic initiatives. This research examines early evidence of the impact of both hard and soft law on social change
Klettner, A.L., Boersma, M. & Clarke, T. 2012, 'Women in Leadership', Keeping Good Companies, vol. 64, no. 11, pp. 648-654.
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Launching the 2012 Australian Census of Women in Leadership, the Governor General of Australia Quentin Bryce was able to announce a significant increase in the number of women on ASX 200 boards to 12.3 per cent of directorships, up from 8.4 per cent in 2002. Successive earlier Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) censuses conducted over the ten years since 2002 had indicated no significant improvement in female board representation. However, now a breakthrough has occurred.
Klettner, A.L. & Clarke, T. 2011, 'Board Performance Evaluation Post-Financial Crisis', Keeping Good Companies, vol. 63, no. 4, pp. 200-206.
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Over the last ten years, the practice of conducting performance evaluations of boards of directors has become commonplace in large corporations. Not only is the process widely established but it is seen as an essential tool in achieving better board performance and effectiveness.
Klettner, A.L., Clarke, T. & Adams, M.A. 2010, 'Corporate governance reform: An empirical study of the changing roles and responsibilities of Australian boards and directors', Australian Journal of Corporate Law, vol. 24, pp. 148-176.
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This article draws together some of the legal and management literature relevant to the theory and design of qualitative empirical research in the field of corporate governance. It goes on to describe the methodology used by the authors in a project involving interviews with representatives of 67 Australian companies. One of the aims of the project was to examine the changing roles and responsibilities of company boards and directors following legal and regulatory reform.It is only through improving our knowledge of the day to day processes occurring in board rooms that we can really understand the complex relationship between the regulatory framework and the control of corporations in practice. Our evidence was that with regard to the Australian corporate governance framework, over-regulation is not as critical an issue as often suggested, instead the âcomply or explainâ mechanism is well understood and permits sufficient flexibility for companies to find an acceptable cost-benefit balance.
Clarke, T. & Klettner, A.L. 2009, 'Regulatory responses to the global financial crisis - the next cycle of corporate governance reform?', Keeping Good Companies, vol. 61, no. 5, pp. 280-286.
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The causes of the global financial crisis are complex and multidimensional. A combination of factors including low interest rates, highly complex financial products, poor risk management and excessive incentive schemes contributed to the spectacular failure of many financial institutions, which in turn has damaged the wider international economy. The long-term policy response to deal with the crisis has focused on issues of transparency, disclosure, and risk management. The coordinated global effort to rebuild the financial system and restore economic growth has three essential dimensions: containing the contagion and restoring market operations coping with long-term systemic problems aligning international regulation and oversight of financial institutions.
Klettner, A.L., Clarke, T. & Adams, M.A. 2007, 'Balancing Act - the Tightrope of Corporate Governance Reform', Keeping Good Companies, vol. 59, no. 11, pp. 648-653.
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Over the last five years, corporate governance has proved an insistent issue in the boardrooms of Australia. In March 2003, the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) Corporate Governance Council launched its Principles of Good Corporate Governance and Best Practice Recommendations (the guidelines). The following year amendments to the Corporations Act 2001 came into force, designed to improve corporate accountability and auditing practices. In annual reports for 2004-2005, Australian corporations were asked to disclose more information about their corporate governance practices than ever before. This prompted a review of existing governance structures and procedures against those recommended or required by the new regulation.
Klettner, A.L. 2004, 'Protection of the Environment During Armed Conflict: One Gulf, Two Wars', Review of European Community and International Environmental Law, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 201-213.
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This article is concerned with the role of international law in the protection of the natural environment 1 during armed conflict. It is an issue that last attracted the worlds attention in 1991 when Iraq released enormous quantities of oil into Kuwait and the Persian Gulf as part of its tactics in the first Gulf War (Gulf War I). 2 We now approach the issue following a second war in the Gulf (Gulf War II), in which the environmental damage appears to be less than in 1991, but still significant. 3 Although there was no repeat of the devastating oil pollution of 1991, damage from Gulf War II included atmospheric pollution from oil fires, 4 depleted uranium contamination, 5 damage to fragile desert ecosystems 6 and water pollution from disrupted waste management systems.


Clarke, T. & Klettner, A.L. Financial Services Institute of Australasia (FINSIA) 2007, Tip of the Iceberg? Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability: The new business imperatives? An International Comparison, pp. 1-52, Sydney, Australia.
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A substantial increase in the range, significance and impact of corporate social and environmental initiatives in recent years suggests the growing materiality of sustainability. Once regarded as a concern of a few philanthropic individuals and companies, corporate social and environmental responsibility is becoming established in many corporations as a critical element of strategic direction, and one of the main drivers of business development, as well as an essential component of risk management. Corporate social and environmental responsibility (CSR) is rapidly moving from the margins to the mainstream of corporate activity, with greater recognition of a direct and inescapable relationship between corporate governance, corporate responsibility, business performance and sustainable business development.
Clarke, T., Adams, M.A. & Klettner, A.L. Dibbs Abbot Stillman Lawyers 2007, The Changing roles and Responsibilities of Company Boards and Directors: Final Report, pp. 1-106, Sydney.