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Dr Alice Klettner


Alice Klettner is a core member of the Centre for Corporate Governance at the University of Technology, Sydney.  Previously a practicing 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, corporate responsibility and sustainability and gender diversity in leadership.  Using qualitative methods her research explores the impact of corporate law and regulation on society.
Research Associate, Management Discipline Group
Core Member, Centre for Corporate Governance
Associate Member, Law Research Centre Research Strength
Natural Sciences, Law, Legal Practice, Natural Sciences, International Law
+61 2 9514 3080


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.
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. 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.
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.
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.


Clarke, T. & Klettner, A.L. 2010, 'Corporate Governance: Investigating the Reform of Boards and Directors', 2010 European Academy of Management EURAM, European Academy of Management EURAM, 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, Berlin.

Journal articles

Klettner, A., Clarke, T. & Boersma, M. 2014, 'Strategic and Regulatory Approaches to Increasing Women in Leadership: Multilevel Targets and Mandatory Quotas as Levers for Cultural Change', Journal of Business Ethics, pp. 1-25.
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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. 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dord...
Klettner, A.L., 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(1), no. June (II), pp. 145-165.
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.
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.
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.
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 comply or explain 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.