Erick Guerrero

Associate Professor
Contact Information
University Park
Department of Study 
Social Change and Innovation
Research Interest 
Behavioral Health
Diversity/Cross Cultural
Social Development/Policy
Substance Abuse
PhD, University of Chicago, 2009
MA, Governors State University, 2002
BA, Universidad de las Americas, 1995

ERICK GUERRERO joined in 2009 as a postdoctoral fellow and was promoted a year later to assistant professor. He currently serves as associate professor, with a joint appointment at the USC Marshall School of Business.

His main research agenda focuses on identifying organizational factors that can be modified to enhance the effectiveness of behavioral health treatments. Trained in social work at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and organization science at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Guerrero has focused his program of research on building organizational capacity to improve standards of health care for vulnerable populations. Considering the policy context, his research scholarship seeks to understand organizational readiness to address Latino disparities in behavioral health services, implement culturally responsive and evidence-based practices, and integrate behavioral health and primary care systems.

Guerrero’s funded research explores the role of leadership strategies, organizational culture and climate, and financial resources to enhance the implementation and sustainment of psychosocial and pharmacological treatment practices. His current studies include a three-year project funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that seeks to detect, understand and reduce Latino health care disparities. He is also principal investigator of a five-year study funded by NIDA examining how changes precipitated by the Affordable Care Act might affect the capacity of substance abuse treatment organizations to coordinate care with mental health and HIV prevention providers and eliminate disparities in access and retention among African American and Latino clients. Guerrero also leads national studies in health care access in the United States and Mexico. 

Considered a high-impact social work scholar based on his published work, Guerrero has made significant contributions to management and organizational literatures. Findings from his studies have informed state- and county-level policy and organizational interventions to improve health care for vulnerable populations.

On his path to becoming a social worker, Dr. Erick Guerrero took several detours to study clinical psychology, business administration and economics before working in management for organizations that served ethnic and racial minorities. But in an act of professional convergence, Guerrero found a way to merge his multidisciplinary training and clinical experience into a unique specialty—the study of organizational culture as it relates to the treatment of minority populations. He has since focused his research on the context and organizational structures that influence the effectiveness of client–practitioner relationships.

After initial forays into international relations and business administration, Guerrero studied clinical psychology at the Universidad de las Americas in Mexico City. His interest in the field grew out of past experiences with people in the community who needed “extra support to maximize their potential.” Upon moving to Chicago to continue his education, Guerrero began working at an agency that served a low-income, predominantly Latino community and quickly developed an interest in substance abuse treatment.

During his time in Chicago, Guerrero began devising ways to create a high-quality, self-sustaining model that offered culturally and linguistically appropriate care. While studying economics in an effort to better understand management, he was told that his clinical experience would make him an effective social worker. Awakened to the possibility, he pursued a PhD in social work from the University of Chicago, focusing his dissertation on the adoption of culturally competent practices in the nation’s outpatient substance abuse treatment field, one of the few studies of its kind.

As an assistant professor at USC, Guerrero has continued to focus on the evaluation of organizational competence and mental health treatment services, including a recent project exploring the management of substance abuse providers in Los Angeles. Guerrero’s overall focus is organizational culture and climate—the ways in which therapists and supervisors interact with their environment—and he has repeatedly found that an organization’s success depends on dedicated, proactive management.

Much of his work involves interviewing managers, and Guerrero has been able to provide many of his students with opportunities to conduct meaningful field work. Under his mentorship, students have traveled to service organizations across Southern California and interviewed key administrators, giving them an opportunity to both understand new research methodologies and become acquainted with real-world practice.


* Manuscripts "in press" are published on-line first.
† Mentored pre or post-doctoral students
Awards and Distinction
National Investigator - Level 1, National Science Foundation of Mexico (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia de Mexico) (2015)
Slavin-Patti Outstanding Article of the Year, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership and Governance Journal (2014)
Fellow, Inaugural Cohort, Society for Social Work and Research (2014)
Emerging Scholar of the Year, Association for Community Organization & Social Administration (2013)
Mark Moses Distinguished Fellowship, National Network for Social Work Managers (2012)
USC Invitational Speaker, Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups Conferences (2011)
LARSON Endowment for Innovative Research and Teaching Award, USC School of Social Work - Hamovitch Research Center (2010-11)
Dean's Program, USC School of Social Work (2010-11)
Best Abstract Award for “Building Culturally Responsive Systems of Care” (Abstract No.: 4IC0041), The University of Hong Kong Student Award - Joint World Conference on Social Work and Social Development: The Agenda (2010)
Outstanding Social Work Dissertation Award Honorable Mention, Society for Social Work and Research Conference (2010)
Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, Minority Researchers in Health, National Institutes of Health – National Institute of Drug Abuse (2007-09)
New Investigator Travel Award, Addiction Health Services Research Conference, National Institute of Drug Abuse (2009)
New Investigator Travel Award, European Research Network on Cooperatives and Social Enterprises Conference (2009)
Emerging Scholar Award, Association for Research on Non-Profit Organizations and Volunteering Action (2008)
New Investigator Travel Award, Addiction Health Services Research Conference, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2008)
Mediation Analysis Training Scholarship, Penn State University and National Institute of Drug Abuse (2008)
National Research Service Award, Health Services Research Training program, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at University of Chicago (2007)
Travel Research Award, Harris-Doolittle Fellowship, Santiago, Chile (2006)
More awards
Selected Publications

Guerrero, E.G., Hanh, E.E., Kachikian, T., Chuang, E., Brown, A.F., Sankare, I. & Mittman, B. (in press). Interdisciplinary dissemination and implementation research to advance translational science: Challenges and opportunities. Journal of Clinical and Translational Science.

Guerrero, E.G., Padwa, H., Fenwick, K., Harris, L.M. & Aarons, G. (in press). Identifying and ranking implicit leadership strategies to promote evidence-based practice implementation in addiction health services. Implementation Science.

Guerrero, E.G., Aarons, A.G., Grella, E.C., Garner, R.B., Cook, B. & Vega, W.A. (2015). Program capacity to eliminate outcome disparities in addiction health services. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research.

Padwa, H., Guerrero, E.G., Fenwick, K. & Braslow, J. (2015). Providers' perspective on barriers to integration of mental health and substance abuse services for public mental health clients. Psychiatric Services.

Andrews, C., Guerrero, E.G., Wooten, N.R. & Lengnick-Hall, R. (2015). Medicaid expansion and racial and ethnic minorities with substance use disorders: Who falls into the coverage gap? American Journal of Public Health.

Guerrero, E.G., Fenwick, K., Kong, Y., Grella, C. & D’Aunno, T. (2015). Paths to improving engagement among racial and ethnic minorities in addiction health services. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy.

Guerrero, E.G., Aarons, A.G. & Palinkas, A.L. (2014). Organizational Capacity for Service Integration in Community-Based Addiction Health Services. American Journal of Public Health, 104, e40-e47. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301842.

Guerrero, E.G., Heslin, K., Chang, B.K., Fenwick, K. & Yano, E. Organizational correlates of implementation of mental health and primary care in the veterans health administration. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research. doi: 10.1008/s10488-013-0515-3.

Guerrero, E.G., Marsh, J.C., Cao, D., Shin, H. & Andrews, C. (2014). Racial/ethnic and Gender Disparities in Utilization and Outcome of Comprehensive Substance Abuse Treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 46, 584-591.

Guerrero, E.G., Henwood, B. & Wenzel, S. (2014). Service Integration to Reduce Homelessness in Los Angeles County: Multiple Stakeholders Perspective. Administration in Social Work, 38(1), 44-54. doi: 10.1080/03643107.2013.853009.

Guerrero, E.G. & Fenwick, K. (in press). “Organizational Development and Change.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Social Work. Ed. Edward J. Mullen. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Guerrero, E.G. (in press). What does it take for Social Work to Evolve to Science Status? Discussing Definition, Structure, and Contextual Challenges and Opportunities. Research in Social Work Practice. doi: 10.1177/1049731513511993.

Guerrero, E.G. & Kao, D. (2013). Racial/ethnic minority and low-income hotspots and their geographic proximity to integrated care providers. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 8 (34). doi: 10.1186/10.1186/1747-597X-8-34.

Kao, D., Torres, L.R., Guerrero, E.G., Mauldin, R. & Bordnick, P.S. (in press). Spatial Accessibility of Drug Treatment Facilities and the Effects on Locus of Control, Drug Abuse, and Service Use among Heroin-Injecting Mexican American Men. International Journal of Drug Policy.

Cederbaum, A.J., Guerrero, E.G. & Kim, T. (in press). Hospital utilization among individuals attending publicly-funded substance abuse treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 9. doi:10.1186/1747-597X-9-16.

Guerrero, E.G., He, A., Kim, A. & Aarons, G. (in press). Organizational implementation of evidence-based substance abuse treatment in racial and ethnic minority communities. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research. doi: 10.1007/s10488-013-0515-3.

Guerrero, E.G., Khachikian, T., Kim, T., Kong, Y. & Vega, W.A. (2013). Spanish language proficiency among providers and Latino clients’ engagement in substance abuse treatment. Addictive Behaviors, 38, 2893-2897. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.08.022.

Guerrero, E.G. & Kim, A. (in press). Organizational Structure, Leadership, and Readiness for Change and the Implementation of Organizational Cultural Competence in Addiction Health Services. Evaluation and Program Planning. doi: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2013.05.002.

Guerrero, E.G., Villatoro, J.A., Kong, Y., Vega, W.A. & Medina-Mora, M.E. (in press). Mexicans illicit drug use in an era of drug reform: A national comparative analysis based on migration status. International Journal of Drug Policy 25(3), 451-457. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.04.006.

Guerrero, E.G., Villatoro, J.A., Kong, Y., Fleiz, C., Vega, W.A., Stratdhee, S. & Medina-Mora, M.E. Barriers to accessing substance abuse treatment in Mexico: National comparative analysis by migration status. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy 9 (30). doi:10.1186/1747-597X-9-30.

Guerrero, E.G. (2013). Enhancing Access and Retention in Substance Abuse Treatment: The Role of Medicaid Payment Acceptance and Cultural Competence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 132, 555-561.

Guerrero, E.G. (2013). Examination of treatment episodes among women and Racial/Ethnic minorities in substance abuse treatment. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 13, (3), 227-243. doi:10.1080/1533256X.2013.812011.

Guerrero, E.G., Marsh, J.C., Khachikian, T., Amaro, H. & Vega, W.A. (in press). Disparities in Latino substance use, service utilization and treatment outcomes: Implications for implementation of culturally-informed and evidence-based interventions under health care reform. Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Cederbaum, A.J., Barman, A. & Guerrero, E.G. (in press). Relationship satisfaction and substance use communication in HIV-positive and HIV-negative Mother-Daughter Dyads. Journal of Family Issues.

Guerrero, E.G., Marsh, J.C., Duan, L., Oh, C†, Perron, B. & Lee, B. (2013). Between and within racial and ethnic group disparities in completion of substance abuse treatment. Health Service Research, 1-18. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.12031.

Heslin, K.C., Guerrero, E.G., Mitchell, M.N., Afable, M. & Dobalian, A. (2013). Explaining differences in hepatitis C between U.S. veterans and non-veterans in treatment for substance abuse: Results from a regression decomposition. Substance Use & Misuse, 48(10), 854-862. doi:10.3109/10826084.2013.808222.

Guerrero, E.G. (2013). Managerial challenges and strategies to implementing organizational change in substance abuse treatment for Latinos. Administration in Social Work. doi: 10.1080/03643107.2012.686009.

Guerrero, E.G. (2013). Workforce diversity in outpatient substance abuse treatment: The role of leaders' characteristics. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 44 (2), 208-215.

Guerrero, E.G., Kao, D. & Perron, B. (2013). Travel distance to outpatient substance use disorder treatment facilities for Spanish speaking clients. International Journal of Drug Policy, 24 (1), 38-45. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2012.04.004.

Guerrero, E.G., Campos, M., Urada, D. & Yang, J.C. (2012). Do Cultural and linguistic competence matter in Latinos’ completion of mandated substance abuse treatment? Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 7:34. doi: 10.1186/1747-597X-7-34.

Guerrero, E.G., Cepeda, A., Duan, L. & Kim, T. (2012). Substance abuse treatment completion among Latino groups in L.A. County from 2006 to 2009. Addictive Behaviors.

Guerrero, E.G. (2012). Latinos and health disparities in substance abuse treatment. Symposium proceeding, Addiction Health Services Research, New York, N.Y. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

Guerrero, E.G. (2012). Organizational characteristics fostering adoption of culturally competent practices in outpatient substance abuse treatment in the U.S. Evaluation and Program Planning, 35, (1), 9-15. doi: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2011.06.001.

Guerrero, E.G., Pan, K., Curtis, A. & Lizano, L.E. (2011). Availability of substance abuse treatment in Spanish: A GIS analysis of Latino communities in Los Angeles County, California. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 6; 21. doi: 10.1186/1747-597X-6-21.

Guerrero, E.G. & Andrews, C. (2011). Cultural competence in outpatient substance abuse treatment: Measurement and relationship with wait time and retention. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 119 e13-e22. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.05.020.

Guerrero, E.G. & Cederbaum, A.J. (2010). Adoption and utilization of sexually transmitted infections testing in outpatient substance abuse treatment facilities serving high risk populations in the U.S. International Journal of Drug Policy, 22, 41-48. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2010.09.005.

Guerrero, E.G. (2010). Managerial capacity and adoption of culturally competent practices in outpatient substance abuse treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 39 (4), 329-339. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2010.07.004.

Perron, B.E., Vaughn, M.G., Howard, M.O., Bohnert, A. & Guerrero, E.G. (2010). Item response theory analysis of DSM-IV criteria for inhalant use disorders in adolescents. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 71 (4), 607-614.

Marsh, J.C., Cao, D., Guerrero, E.G. & Shin, H. (2009). Need-service matching in substance abuse treatment: Racial/ethnic differences. Evaluation and Program Planning, 32 (9), 43-51.