Micheal L.  Shier

Assistant Professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work; PhD (Social Welfare), University of Pennsylvania; MSW, University of Calgary; BSW, University of Calgary; BA (Political Science), University of Lethbridge; Registered Social Work (RSW)
Phone Number: 
(416) 946-8607
Office Location: 

Room 316

Research Interests: 
  • Nonprofit organizations and the voluntary sector
  • Social innovation and social entrepreneurship
  • Social financing strategies
  • Organizational culture and leadership
  • Intra-sector and cross-sector partnerships
  • Marketization and social enterprise
  • Comparative social welfare systems
  • Welfare state, market-state and Third-Way theorizing
  • Social policy
  • Labour market attachment (un- and under- employment)
  • Occupational health and wellbeing
  • Applied statistical analysis
  • Mixed methods study designs
  • Program and Outcome Evaluation (Social Impact Analysis)
  • Scale Development and Analysis

Micheal L. Shier is Assistant Professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. He is the Specialization Coordinator for the Human Services Management and Leadership Field. His research focuses on the mechanisms and conditions that support social innovation and social entrepreneurship within the nonprofit and voluntary sector. This includes the extent, quality, and level of interconnectivity in partnerships between nonprofits and between nonprofits and the government and/or private sector, characteristics of funding and funder relationships, resource development and social financing strategies, and the support structures within the public policy environment, along with a range of intra-organizational factors such as organizational culture, leadership qualities, characteristics, and strategies, and the nature of interpersonal dynamics between organizational personnel that support nonprofits to undertake new programs and initiative to address persistent and emergent social issues. The implications of his research support local social welfare and community economic development.

He has developed and advanced curricula for social work education on the study of nonprofits and engages in community based research initiatives that support the mobilization of social innovation. His education focuses on mobilizing and supporting the next generation of social welfare leaders through teaching course work on social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and nonprofit management and leadership, professional development training on human services management and leadership for practitioners in the field, and through consultations with nonprofit leaders on social innovation, social impact assessment, social financing, and developing social enterprises.  He recently co-developed a certificate program, Certificate in Human Services Management & Leadership, that is offered through the Faculty of Continuing Studies, University of Toronto. The training provides management and leadership training for social workers and allied human service professionals working in direct social service organizations. For a full description of the program and enrolment, please see: http://learn.utoronto.ca/courses-programs/business-professionals/certificates/human-services-management-and-leadership

Dr. Shier has been the recipient of several awards, including: the Ministry of Research and Innovation, Government of Ontario, Early Researcher Award (2017-2022), the 2016 Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools Doctoral Dissertation Award, the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research (ANSER-ARES) Graduate Student Research Award, Heyer Foundation Fellowship (University of Pennsylvania), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship, Chai Doctoral Student Fellowship (University of Pennsylvania), Doctoral Research Fellowship (University of Pennsylvania), Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (SSHRC), Dean’s Research Excellence Award (University of Calgary, Faculty of Graduate Studies), Program for Undergraduate Research Experience Award (University of Calgary), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Professional Student Research Award (CIHR).

He is  an Editorial Board Member for the journal Research on Social Work Practice,  is a Board Director for the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research (ANSER-ARES), an Associate Researcher with the Centre for Learning, Social Economy & Work at the University of Toronto Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and was formerly the Managing Editor of the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (2010 – 2016).  

Current courses taught are:

  1. SWK 4642H Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship in the Human Services [this is a week long (Monday through Friday) intensive course offered in June, and is open to graduate – both Master and PhD level – students from any faculty] (Summer Session 2018) *Note: This course can be taken as an elective for the Collaborative Program in Community Development
  2.  SWK 4425 – Human Services Management and Leadership (Fall Session 2017)
  3. SWK 4602H – Social Work with Groups (Fall Session 2017)
  4. SWK 4654H Social Work Practice in Organizations & Communities (Winter Session, 2018)
  1. Graham, J.R., Shier, M.L., &  Delaney, R. (2017). Canadian social policy: A new introduction (5th edition). Toronto, ON: Pearson Canada.
Book Chapters: 
  1. Shier, M.L. (2017). Problem solving and social work. In F.J. Turner (Ed.). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches, 6th Edition (pp. 387-397). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  2. Graham, J.R., & Shier, M.L. (2015). History of Canadian social welfare. In Mullen, E. (Ed.). Oxford Bibliographies (Social Work), Online: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0072
  3. Shier, M.L., & Handy, F. (2014). Give India: Web donations in an emerging nonprofit market. In Cnaan, R.A., & Vinokur-Kaplan, D (Eds.). Innovative nonprofits: Organizations that make a difference. Sage Publications.
  4. Shier, M.L., & Graham, J.R. (2014). Social policy in Canada. In C. Franklin (Ed.). Encyclopedia of social work online (pp. 1-13, online). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  5. Graham, J.R., & Shier, M.L. (2012). Religion, spirituality and social work in academic settings. In Groen, J., Graham, J.R., & Coholic, D. (Eds.), Spirituality in Education and Social Work: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue (pp. 35-56). Waterloo, CA: Wilfred Laurier University Press.
  6. Shier, M.L., & Graham, J.R. (2012). Social work, religion, culture and spirituality. In K. Lyons, T. Hokenstad, M Pawar, and N. Huegler (Eds.). The Sage Handbook of International Social Work (pp. 279-293). London, UK: Sage Publications.
  7. Shier, M.L. (2011). Problem solving and social work. In F. J. Turner (Ed.). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches (5th Edition) (pp. 364-373). New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
Publications In Refereed Journals: 
  1. Shier, M.L., & Turpin, A. (in press). A multidimensional conceptual framework for trauma informed practice in addictions programming. Journal of Social Service Research.
  2. Shier, M.L., Nicholas, D.B., Graham, J.R., & Young, A. (in press). Preventing workplace violence in human services workplaces: Organizational dynamics to support positive interpersonal interaction. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance.
  3. Ramsundarsingh, S., & Shier, M.L. (in press). Anti-oppressive organizational dynamics in the social services: A literature review. British Journal of Social Work.
  4. Burgess, D., & Shier, M.L. (in press). Food insecurity and social work: A comprehensive literature review. International Social Work.
  5. Shier, M.L., Graham, J.R., & Nicholas, D. (in press). Interpersonal interactions, workplace violence, and occupational health outcomes among social workers. Journal of Social Work.
  6. Turpin, A., & Shier, M.L. (2017). Supporting intrapersonal development in substance use disorder programs: A conceptual framework for client assessment. Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work, 14(3), 131-146.
  7. Turpin, A., & Shier, M.L. (2017). Peer support and substance use disorder treatment: Benefits and barriers for intra-personal development in longer-term treatment programs. Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, 12(2-3), 117-134.  
  8. Surette, T.E., & Shier, M.L. (2017). A common factors approach to supporting university students experiencing psychological distress. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 31(2), 112-131. 
  9. Graham, J.R., Shier, M.L., & Nicholas, D. (2016). Workplace congruence and occupational health outcomes among social service workers. British Journal of Social Work, 46(4), 1096-1114.  
  10. Shier, M.L., & Handy, F. (2016). Cross-sector partnerships: Factors supporting social innovation by nonprofits. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership, & Governance, 40(3), 253-266. 
  11. Shier, M.L., & Handy, F. (2016). Executive leadership and social innovation in direct service nonprofits: Shaping the organizational culture to create social change. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 27(2), 111-130.  
  12. Shier, M.L., Graham, J.R., Fukuda, E., & Turner, A. (2016). Predictors of living in precarious housing among immigrants accessing housing support services. Journal of International Migration and Integration. 17(1),  173-192.
  13. Shier, M.L., Graham, J.R., Fukuda, E., & Turner, A. (2015). Risk and protective factors of precarious housing among Aboriginal people living in urban centres in Alberta, Canada. Canadian Review of Social Policy, 72/73, 65-94.
  14. Shier, M.L., & Handy, F. (2015). From advocacy to social innovation: A typology of social change efforts by nonprofits. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 26(6), 2581-2603. 
  15. Graham, J.R., Shier, M.L., & Eisenstat, M. (2015). Young adult social networks and labour market attachment: Interpersonal dynamics that shape perspectives on job attainment. Journal of Social Policy, 44(4), 769-786.
  16. Shier M.L., & Handy F. (2015). Social change efforts of direct service nonprofits: The role of funding and collaborative networks in shaping social innovations. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance, 39 (1), 6-24.
  17. Shier, M.L., & Graham, J.R. (2015). Subjective wellbeing, social work and the environment: The impact of the socio-political context of practice on social worker happiness. Journal of Social Work, 15(1), 3-23.
  18. Shier, M.L., Graham, J.R., & Eisenstat, M. (2015). Psychosocial characteristics and successful labour market attachment among young adults: The internalization of individual inadequacy as explanations for failure within the labour market. Canadian Journal of Family and Youth, 7(1), 27-54.
  19. Graham, J.R., & Shier, M.L. (2014). Intersecting personal identity and professional role: Impact on social worker subjective well-being. The Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, 19 , 133-150.
  20. Shier, M.L., & Handy, F. (2014). Research trends in nonprofit graduate studies: A growing interdisciplinary field. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43(5), 812-831.
  21. Graham, J.R., Shier, M.L., & Eisenstat, M. (2014). Misalignment between post-secondary education demand and labour market supply: Preliminary insight from young adults on the evolving school to work transition. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 14(2), 199-219.
  22. Walsh, C.A., Hewson, J., Shier, M.L., & Morales, E. (2014). Youth stakeholders in neighbourhood revitalization: A case example. Journal of Arts & Humanities, 3(3), 1-11.
  23. Graham, J.R., Shier, M.L., Newberry, A.M., & Esina, E. (2014). Aligning perspectives of subjective well-being: Comparing spouse and colleague perceptions of social worker happiness. The Qualitative Report, 19(46), 1-19.
  24. Shier, M.L., Graham, J.R., Goitam, M., & Eisenstat, M. (2014). Young adult experiences with employment: How perceived and actual discrimination hinder labour market attachment. Canadian Review of Social Policy, 70(1), 48-63.
  25. Shier, M.L., McDougle, L.M., & Handy, F. (2014). Nonprofits and the promotion of civic engagement: A conceptual framework for understanding the ‘civic footprint’ of nonprofits within local communities. The Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research, 5(1), 57-75.
  26. Graham, J.R., & Shier, M.L. (2014). Profession and workplace expectations of social workers: Implications for social worker subjective well-being. Journal of Social Work Practice, 28(1), 95-110.
  27. Shier, M.L., Graham, J.R., Deane, L., & Jones, M.E. (2013). Leadership in a Chinese advocacy focused non-profit organization: Adaptability to context for leadership success. Social Development Issues, 35(3), 96-108.
  28. Jones, M.E., Shier, M.L., & Graham, J.R. (2013). Social exclusion and self-esteem: The impact of the identity – bureaucracy nexus on employed people experiencing homelessness in Calgary, Canada. Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy, 29(2), 134-142. (Research Note)
  29. Shier, M.L., & Graham, J.R. (2013). Identifying social service needs of Muslims living in a post 9/11 era: The role of community-based organizations. Advances in Social Work, 14(2), 379-394.
  30. Graham, J.R., Fukuda, E., Shier, M.L., Kline, T.B.J., Brownlee, K., & Novik, N. (2013). Demographic, work-related, and life satisfaction predictors of Northern social workers’ satisfaction with work and profession. International Social Work, 56(5), 588-607.
  31. Shier, M.L., & Graham, J.R. (2013). Organizations and social worker well-being: The intra-organizational context of practice and its impact on practitioner’s subjective well-being. Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, 36(1), 61-90.
  32. Shier, M.L., Graham, J.R., Fukuda, E., Brownlee, K., Kline, T.B.J., Walji, S.A., & Novik, N. (2012). Social workers and satisfaction with child welfare work: Aspects of work, profession and personal life that contribute to turnover. Child Welfare Journal, 91(5), 117-138.
  33. Shier, M.L., & Handy, F. (2012). Understanding online donor behavior: The role of donor characteristics, perceptions of the internet, website and program, and influence from social networks. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 17(3), 219-230.
  34. Graham, J.R., Shier, M.L., & Brownlee, K. (2012). Contexts of practice and their impact on social work: A comparative analysis of the context of geography and culture. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 21(2), 111-128.
  35. Shier, M.L., Jones, M.E., & Graham, J.R. (2012). Employment difficulties experienced by employed homeless people: Labour market factors that contribute to and maintain homelessness. Journal of Poverty, 16(1), 27-47.
  36. Jones, M.E., Shier, M.L., & Graham, J.R. (2012). Intimate Relationships as Routes into and out of Homelessness: Insights from a Canadian City. Journal of Social Policy, 41(1), 101-117.
  37. Shier, M.L., Jones, M.E., & Graham, J.R. (2011). Socio-cultural factors to consider when addressing vulnerability of social service users: Insights from women experiencing homelessness. Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, 26(4), 367-381.
  38. Shier, M.L., & Graham, J.R. (2011). Work-related factors that impact social work practitioners’ subjective well-being: Well-being in the workplace. Journal of Social Work, 11(4), 402-421.
  39. Graham, J.R., & Shier, M.L. (2011). Making sense of their world: Aspects of spirituality and subjective well-being of practicing social workers. Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 30(3), 253-271.
  40. Shier, M.L., Jones, M.E., & Graham, J.R. (2011). Social communities and homelessness: A broader concept analysis of social relationships and being homeless. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 21(5), 455-474.
  41. Shier, M.L., Sinclair, C., & Gault, L. (2011). Challenging ‘ableism’ and teaching about disability in a social work classroom: A training module for generalist social workers working with people disabled by the social environment. Critical Social Work, 12(1), 47-64.
  42. Shier, M.L., Engstrom, S., & Graham, J.R. (2011). International migration and social work: A review of the literature. Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, 9(1), 38-56.
  43. Shier, M.L., & Graham, J.R. (2011). Mindfulness, subjective well-being, and social work: Insight into their interconnection from social work practitioners. Social Work Education. 30(1), 29-44.
  44. Walsh, C.A., Shier, M.L., & Graham, J.R. (2010). Local community engagement: Implications for youth shelter and support services. Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 19(2), 46-61.
  45. Shier, M.L., Jones, M.E., & Graham, J.R. (2010). Perspectives of self and situation of employed people experiencing homelessness: Challenging socially constructed perceptions and stereotypes. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 37(4), 13-37.
  46. Shier, M.L., Jones, M.E., & Graham, J.R. (2010). Turnaround points: The role of help seeking and service delivery for employed people experiencing homelessness in Calgary, Canada. Social Development Issues, 32(3), 50-64.
  47. Walsh, C.A., Beamer, K., Alexander, C., Shier, M.L., Loates, M. & Graham, J.R. (2010). Listening to the silenced: Informing homeless shelter design for women through investigation of site, situation, and service. Social Development Issues, 32(3), 35-49.
  48. Walsh, C. A., Shier, M. L., Sitter K. C., & Sieppert, J. D. (2010). Applied methods of teaching about oppression and diversity to graduate social work students: A case example of digital stories. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1(2), 1-15.
  49. Shier, M.L., Graham, J.R. & Jones, M.E. (2010). Social capital for vulnerable groups: Insight from employed people experiencing homelessness. Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 19(3/4), 132-155.
  50. Graham, J.R., & Shier, M.L. (2010). Social work practitioners and subjective well-being: Personal factors that contribute to high levels of subjective well-being. International Social Work. 53(6), 757-772.
  51. Graham, J.R., & Shier, M.L. (2010). The social work profession and subjective well-being: The impact of a profession on overall subjective well-being. British Journal of Social Work, 40(5), 1553-1572.
  52. Graham, J.R., Jones, M.E., & Shier, M. (2010). Tipping Points: What participants found valuable in labour market training programs for vulnerable groups. International Journal of Social Welfare, 19(1), 63-72.
  53. Walsh, C.A., Graham, J.R., & Shier, M. (2009). Towards a common goal for shelter service. Social Development Issues, 31(2), 57-69.
  54. Graham, J.R., Walsh, C.A., & Shier, M. (2009). The application of precedent methodology to analyze homeless shelter service delivery. International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches, 3(2), 203-211.
  55. Graham, J.R., Shier, M.L., Jones, M.E., & Gray, E. (2009). Individualism: Perceptions of people experiencing difficulties integrating into labour markets. Canadian Review of Social Policy, 62, 1-16.
  56. Graham, J.R. & Shier, M. (2009). Religion and social work: An Analysis of Faith Traditions, Themes, and Global North/South Authorship. Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 28(1/2), 215-233.
  57. Shier, M., Graham, J.R., & Jones, M.E. (2009). Barriers to employment as experienced by disabled people: A qualitative analysis in Calgary and Regina, Canada.  Disability and Society, 24(1), 63-75.
  58. Graham, J.R., Brownlee, K., Shier, M., & Doucette, E. (2008). Localization of social work knowledge in Canada’s geographic norths: An exploratory qualitative analysis of practitioner adaptations to social work knowledge in northern Ontario and Northwest Territories. Arctic: Journal of the Arctic Institute of North America, 61(4), 399-406.
  59. Walsh, C.A., Hewson, J., Shier, M., & Morales, E. (2008). Unraveling ethics: Reflections from a community-based participatory research project with youth. The Qualitative Report, 13(3), 379-393.
  60. Jones, M.E., Graham, J.R., & Shier, M.L. (2007/2008). Linking transportation inadequacies to negative employment outcomes: Moving beyond placing blame on individuals for unemployment. Canadian Review of Social Policy, 60/61, 91-108.
  61. Shier, M., Walsh, C.A., & Graham, J.R. (2007). Conceptualizing optimum homeless shelter service delivery: The interconnection between programming, community, and the built environment. Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 16(1), 58-75.
Other Selected Publications: 
  1. Shier, M.L. (2015). Review of: Working with homeless and vulnerable people: Basic skills and practice. Social Work Education, 34(8), 1016-1017.
  2. Shier, M.L. (2012). Review of: Handbook of practical program evaluation (3rd Edition). Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41(6), 1269-1272.
External Research Grants: 

2017-2022       Principal Investigator – Creating conditions for social innovation: Organizational factors that support cross- and intra-sector partnerships. Ministry of Research and Innovation, Government of Ontario, Early Researcher Award Program.

2017-2020       Principal Investigator [w/ Dr. John R. Graham (Co-Inv.)] – Creating conditions for social innovation: Factors that support cross- and intra-sector partnerships for direct social service nonprofits. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Insight Grant.

2017-2020       Co-Investigator – [w/ Dr. Katie Misener (PI) and Drs. Katherine Babiak and Patricia Millar (Collaborators)] – New directions for capacity research: Social impact capacity in nonprofit sport management. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Insight Grant.

2016-2017       Co-Investigator  [w/ Dr. David Nicholas (P-Inv.) and Dr. John Graham (Co-Inv.)] – Workplace violence in Alberta Human Services. Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, Alberta, Canada.

2016-2019       Co-Investigator [w/ Dr. Barbara Fallon (P-Inv.) and Drs. Nico Trocme, Cindy Blackstock, Bruce McLaurin and John Fluke (co-Investigators) and Andreas Jud (Collaborator). Understanding the influence of organizations on child welfare service delivery. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

2015-2017        Principal Investigator – Program evaluation of Salvation Army Toronto Harbour Light Ministries’ concurrent disorder treatment and housing programs. Salvation Army Toronto Harbour Light Ministries, Toronto, Ontario.

2015-2017       Co-Investigator [w/ Dr. David Nicholas (P-Inv.) and Dr. John Graham (Co-Inv.)] – Workplace violence in Alberta child welfare. Occupational Policy and Program Development; Jobs, Skills, Training, and Labour Department, Government of Alberta.

2015                 Principal Investigator – Social inpact analysis and program evaluation of GEM mentorship program. Mitacs-Accelerate Graduate Research Internship Program, Toronto, Ontario.