Dr Mike John Webster

BA Auck., MBS Massey, PhD Auck.


Mike’s professional journey includes 20 years as a practitioner and manager in Community Probation in Auckland and fourteen months in the West Midlands Probation and Parole Service in England. Through his experiences as a midlevel service manager during and after major organisational restructuring he has developed an understanding of leadership of organisational culture change which has informed his teaching and research. Mike's experience living and working in the majority world built on his undergraduate degree in social anthropology and has led to active involvement with ethnic minorities and cross-cultural theory and practice. Drawing on his doctoral research, he integrates indigenous and western approaches in course development and delivery. Mike's PhD developed a model for social work organisational leadership.

Mike's teaching focuses on organisational management and leadership for practitioners in social work, health and human services.   In addition, he has designed and taught human service and social work youth courses, including youth justice. Postgraduate teaching engages with middle and frontline managers in health, social work and human services in staff performance review and management. A new postgraduate course (Leadership: Ethics and actions) offered for the first time in 2017 draws directly from his PhD findings.


Research | Current

Mike's primary area of research relates to social work leadership. His doctoral thesis developed a New Zealand model of social work organisational leadership and informs two current research projects: Developing leadership and management standards for the social work profession in New Zealand, and Leadership for workplace wellbeing. In addition to conference presentations, Mike has published seven articles and a book chapter drawing on this research and has also presented webinars on his research.

A second research stream investigates online continuing professional development and virtual communities of practice.  Four conference presentations and three articles (including one as editor's choice) presenting findings have been published.

Current research

  • Leadership for wellbeing in the workplace
  • Identifying the contributing political and economic factors of housing unaffordability: A human rights and social justice perspective.
  • Developing leadership and management practice standards for social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand



View Mike's google scholar profile page

Teaching | Current

  • Leadership in human services: Ethics and actions
  • Organisations and management
  • Managing and developing people in the human services
  • Youth justice

Mike also contributes to communication skills and bicultural/Treaty of Waitangi courses.

Postgraduate supervision

Recently completed Master of Social Work research projects:

Natasha Urale-Baker: "Exploring the experiences of adolescent Samoan males in the Pasifika Youth Court environment."

John Darroch “Social Work and Social Justice; Barriers and Opportunities.”


  • Registered Social Worker, Social Workers Registration Board
  • Chair, School Staffing Committee
  • Member, Faculty Health and Safety Committee
  • Member, Faculty Staff-Student Consultative Committee

Areas of expertise

Mike's expertise relates to social work leadership; social justice applied to organisational settings; and online learning/virtual communities of practice for human service practitioners.

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Active member of the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW)
  • Active member of the Social Justice Committee, ANZASW
  • Convenor of the Leaders and Managers Interest Group, established in 2009
  • Served as a member of Competency Assessment Panels for the ANZASW, and reviews conference abstracts and journal articles

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Webster, M. (2017). Social work leadership for Aotearoa New Zealand The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
  • Webster, M. (2016). Challenging workplace bullying: The role of social work leadership integrity. Ethics & Social Welfare, 10 (4), 316-332. 10.1080/17496535.2016.1155633
  • Webster, M., & McNabb, D. (2016). New public management and information communication technology: Organisational influences on frontline child protection practice. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 28 (2), 51-63.
  • Webster, M. (2015). Online continuing professional development: Key factors for successful engagement. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 17 (1), 68-82.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/30278
  • Webster, M., McNabb, D., & Darroch, J. (2015). Advancing social work professionalism: Standards for management and leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Review, 27 (3), 44-56. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/29263
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: John Darroch
  • Webster, M. (2014). A vision for social work leadership: Critical conceptual elements. In J. Duke, M. Henrickson, E. Beddoe (Eds.) Social Workers Registration Board Conference 2013 : Protecting the public–enhancing the profession. E tiaki ana i te Hapori –E manaaki ana i nga mahi, 79-92. Wellington, New Zealand: Social Workers Registration Board.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/22963
  • Webster, M. J. (2013). Complexity approach to frontline social work management: Constructing an emergent team leadership design for a managerialist world. In T. Hafford-Letchfield, J. Lawler (Eds.) Perspectives on Management and Leadership in Social Work (pp. 39-68). London, England: Whiting and Birch. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/21506
  • Webster, M. J. (2013). Online learning: How a course for frontline managers became a virtual community of practice. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 15 (2), 7-25.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/22964


Contact details

Office hours

Monday - Wednesday

Primary office location

Level 5, Room 510
New Zealand

Web links