Dr Karen Handley

Dr Karen Handley


Newcastle Business School

Career Summary


Karen Handley is a lecturer in the Newcastle Business School at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Her PhD in Accounting examines the development of the Reduced Disclosure Reporting standard in Australia. Karen also holds an Honours degree in Computer Science from Rhodes University and an MBA from the University of Cape Town. She has taught at Macquarie University, the University of Newcastle and the University of Victoria (Canada) in financial accounting, personal financial planning and retail management. Her research interests include financial reporting, accounting standards and corporate governance (particularly for small and medium-sized entities) and workplace diversity. Publications include peer reviewed high quality journal articles, a research monograph and a number of professional publications and articles. Her career prior to academe includes project management of software development projects for mining and retail companies and small business ownership. Karen utilizes her advanced computer literacy and proficiency in analytical tools for both qualitative and quantitative research.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Macquarie University
  • Bachelor of Science (Information Processing), Rhodes University
  • Master of Business Administration, University of Cape Town - South Africa


  • Accounting Standards
  • Corporate Governance
  • Intellectual Capital
  • SMEs
  • Work-life balance

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
150314 Small Business Management 20
150101 Accounting Theory and Standards 60
150103 Financial Accounting 20

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Lecturer University of Newcastle
Newcastle Business School

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
27/05/2013 - 26/05/2017 Postdoctoral Research Fellow Macquarie University
Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance


Code Course Role Duration
ACFI3001 Accounting Theory
Newcastle Business School - The University of Newcaslte
ACFI3001 - Accounting Theory 1/02/2017 - 30/06/2017


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Book (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Hutchinson M, Handley K, University M, A Humane Reckoning From Accounting to Accountability at Macquarie, 1964 - 2014 (2014)

Chapter (3 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Handley KL, Ross-Smith A, Wright S, 'The Same or Different: How women have become included in corporate leadership in Australia', Inclusive Leadership - Negotiating Gendered Spaces, Palgrave Macmillan, Sydney 93-124 (2017)
2017 Handley K, McGrath-Champ S, Leung P, 'A new way of working: Flexibility and work-life balance in the accounting profession in Australia', Anywhere Working and the New Era of Telecommuting, IGI Global, Hershey, PA. 113-143 (2017)
DOI 10.4018/978-1-5225-2328-4.ch005
2017 Handley K, McGrath-Champ S, Leung P, 'A new way of working: Flexibility and work-life balance in the accounting profession in Australia', Remote Work and Collaboration: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice, IGI Global, Hershey, PA 113-144 (2017)
DOI 10.4018/978-1-5225-1918-8.ch014

Journal article (4 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Perkiss S, Handley KL, 'Making¿sense of contemporary disasters: a liquid development perspective', International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, (2017)
Citations Scopus - 1
2017 Handley KL, Wright S, Evans E, 'SME reporting in Australia: Where to now for decision-­-usefulness?', Australian Accounting Review, (2017)
2016 Massaro M, Handley K, Bagnoli C, Dumay J, 'Knowledge management in small and medium enterprises: a structured literature review', JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT, 20 258-291 (2016)
DOI 10.1108/JKM-08-2015-0320
Citations Scopus - 25Web of Science - 19
2015 Islam MA, Haque S, Dissanayake T, Leung P, Handley K, 'Corporate Disclosure in Relation to Combating Corporate Bribery: A Case Study of Two Chinese Telecommunications Companies', Australian Accounting Review, 25 309-326 (2015)

© 2015 CPA Australia Ltd (CPA Australia). This paper investigates the association between global community concerns about bribery activities and anti-bribery disclosure practices ... [more]

© 2015 CPA Australia Ltd (CPA Australia). This paper investigates the association between global community concerns about bribery activities and anti-bribery disclosure practices by two Chinese telecommunication companies operating internationally, namely China Mobile and ZTE. Based on content analysis of annual reports and global news media articles over a period of 16years from 1995-2010, the findings suggest that the changes in the level of disclosures by the two major Chinese telecommunications companies were closely associated with the level of international concerns over bribery practices within the Chinese telecommunications industry. This finding indicates that the companies adopt anti-bribery disclosure practices in order to minimise the gap of trust (social capital) between companies themselves and global stakeholders. In this paper we argue that, for domestic companies in China, culturally constructed social capital, such as guanxi, creates a level of trust between managers and their stakeholders, which obviates the need for managers to disclose anti-bribery performance information. However, for companies operating internationally, as social capital is inadequate to bridge the gap of trust between managers and global stakeholders, managers use disclosures of anti-bribery performance information as a way to minimise such a gap.

DOI 10.1111/auar.12064
Citations Scopus - 3Web of Science - 1
Show 1 more journal article

Conference (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Handley K, Wright S, Ross-Smith A, 'A comparison of the profiles of new male and female directors: An Australian case study', A comparison of the profiles of new male and female directors: An Australian case study, Melbourne, Australia (2018)

Other (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Handley KL, 'Flexible working in the accounting profession: Should accounting firms be doing more to enable employees to embrace flexible working arrangements?', (2017) [O1]

Report (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Handley KL, McGrath-Champ S, Leung P, 'Flexibility¿in the Accounting Profession in Australia' (2017)
2015 Handley KL, Leung P, McGrath-Champ S, Kidd M, 'Work conditions, balance and gender equity: A study of chartered accountants 1995 to 2013', Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (2015)

Grants and Funding


Number of grants 3
Total funding $47,592

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

20161 grants / $20,000

Accounting for Intangibles in SMEs$20,000

Action research project. How SMEs report and account for Intangible Assets and Intellectual Capital.

Funding body: PKF Australia

Funding body PKF Australia
Project Team

Dr John Dumay, Dr Karen Handley

Scheme Research grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2016
Type Of Funding External
Category EXTE

20141 grants / $20,592

Determining viable thresholds for SME reporting in Australia$20,592

Financial reporting for unlisted entities in Australia is unique in the world, and has been the subject of change and uncertainty regarding future change in recent years. One of the future changes is the proposed removal of the reporting entity concept, which currently determines the requirements for financial reporting for unlisted entities (Hamidi-Ravari, 2014). The reporting entity concept allows companies to self-assess whether there are users of their financial statements and, if not, to produce Special Purpose Financial Statements (SPFS) rather than General Purpose Financial Statements (GPFS). This translates directly into lower costs for those entities producing SPFS, because GPFS require compliance with IFRS measurement and recognition principles.

In the absence of the reporting entity concept, regulators will be required to provide directives regarding which entities should produce GPFS. The determination of these directives is difficult. Some suggestions already appear in AASB documents. First, SAC1 includes some guidance for entities that are uncertain about the existence of users. These indicators include financial characteristics, the separation of management and ownership interest and economic or political importance. Research commissioned by the AASB and ASIC indicates inconsistent interpretation of these principles in practice. Second, ITC12 suggests defined thresholds relating to turnover and assets (AASB, 2007). This approach was not repeated in ED192 after criticism from practitioners (AASB, 2009). Third, ITC12 suggests that a measure of ‘public accountability’ could be tied to the publishing of financial statements on a website or filing with ASIC. Filing with ASIC translates to a size measure as well, as the Corporations Act 2001 stipulates that filing is linked to thresholds determined by turnover, assets and number of employees. In addition, these thresholds have not been revised for quite some time. Whatever new thresholds are set by the regulators in the absence of the reporting entity concept, some entities that previously produced SPFS are likely to have to now produce GPFS, resulting in an increased cost burden for these entities.

In addition, very little is known about Australian unlisted entities. This is because their financial statements are expensive to source, as ASIC charges a fee for access. The cost puts access to a viable dataset for empirical research beyond the reach of most university research teams, and manual coding from PDF reports adds to this burden. To support this research project, the Faculty of Business and Economics at Macquarie University has agreed to purchase a single-year sample of financial data for 2000 unlisted companies from Dun and Bradstreet. We will augment this by accessing company websites and publicly available documents. Using this data, this project then seeks to empirically and systematically investigate the possible thresholds to use as triggers for different reporting standards in the place of the reporting entity concept. In an adaptation of a study by Eirle and Helduser (2013), different criteria that should signal the existence of external users are statistically tested against potential thresholds to find those that are significantly related. The research question that will be examined in this study is ‘How effectively do different criteria capture likely users of financial reports?’ 

AASB, 2007. ITC 12 - Request for comment on a proposed revised differential reporting regime for Australia and IASB Exposure draft of a proposed IFRS for small and medium-sized entities. Available: http://www.aasb.com.au/search-result.aspx?search=gefl%C2%9Dk%C2%A0%C2%99%C2%A6%C2%95%C2%9C%C2%A9a%60s%C2%AF%C2%9Aa%C2%A9}%C2%89%C2%B0IY\ [Accessed 13 July 2009].

AASB, 2009. Differential financial reporting - Reducing disclosure requirements. Available: http://www.aasb.gov.au/admin/file/content105/c9/AASB_Consultation_Paper.pdf [Accessed 7 December 2009].

Eirle, B and Helduser, C. 2013. What drives SMEs need to provide internationally comparable accounting information? - Empirical evidence from Germany. Working paper. Available: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2267349

Hamidi-Ravari, A. 2014. AASB Essay 2014-1 The critical role of the reporting entity concept in Australian financial reporting. In: AASB RESEARCH CENTRE (ed.) AASB Essay Series.

Funding body: Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia

Funding body Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
Project Team

Dr Karen Handley, Dr Sue Wright, Dr Elaine Evans

Scheme Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2015
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Non Commonwealth
Category 1NS

20101 grants / $7,000

Standard setting for Australian Small and Medium-sized Entities (SMEs): What are user requirements and how were users involved in the creation of the differential reporting standard?$7,000

This  project aims to investigate the requirements and involvement of users of SME General Purpose Financial Statements, in the environment of the introduction of an Australia–specific differential reporting standard in Australia.  The requirements of users of financial reports for entities that are not listed have not been studied in any depth.  An earlier survey has documented the standards used in financial reports in Australia in early 2010, prior to the implementation of an Australian-specific standard for non-publicly accountable reporting entities.  This survey has been reported in The Charter (Handley, 2010). One of the interesting findings of this survey was that there was not uniform application of the AASB’s financial standards across the spectrum of Australian entities represented in the study.  As part of this survey, we asked respondents to indicate the direct recipients of their financial reports.  This study expands on this work through the medium of survey and interviews to examine more closely those aspects of reporting that are useful for decision making about entities in the SME sector. In the context of the debate regarding an increased number of entities in this sector that may be required to produce General Purpose Financial Statements, it is very important to establish if there are any real users of these reports that cannot demand Special Purpose Financial Statements, and if they are, what information they need.  Also of interest in this study is the inclusion of users in the process to create the standard.  There is criticism that users are not included in the deliberations that precede the introduction of a standard, and there is very little evidence of user involvement in the letters in response to calls from the AASB to comment.  However, there is evidence that the professional bodies and other representative bodies have canvassed their membership or  constituents in preparation of their submissions.  This research study seeks to explore via interviews and the survey instrument how users of these statements are involved in the process.  The survey will be distributed in the newsletter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia as well as e-mailed directly to a database of volunteers which was created in the first survey and by approaching the writers of comment letters to Exposure Draft 192 (ED 192).  In addition, key parties involved in the process of producing the standard will be interviewed in person to establish how users requirements were established by them, and how they prioritized the different and often conflicting requirements.  This study will inform on ways to include users in future standards setting procedures in Australia.

Funding body: Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia

Funding body Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
Project Team

Karen Handley, Dr Sue Wright, Dr Elaine Evans

Scheme Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2010
Funding Finish 2011
Type Of Funding Grant - Aust Non Government
Category 3AFG

Dr Karen Handley


Newcastle Business School
Faculty of Business and Law

Contact Details

Email karen.handley@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4349 4468


Room B.O. 1.18
Building Business Offices Ourimbah
Location Ourimbah
10 Chittaway Road
Ourimbah, NSW 2258