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The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is the University of
Minnesota's school of policy and planning.

Assistant Professor Carrie Oelberger

Carrie Oelberger

Assistant Professor

Phone: 612-625-5947
Office: 249 Humphrey School

Areas of Expertise

Nonprofit management and governance; Organizational design and behavior; Interactions between work life and personal life over the life course; Human resources, labor markets, and career pathways; Institutional norms; Meaningful work; Philanthropy; International aid


Carrie Oelberger is an assistant professor of nonprofit and public management and leadership. Her research examines norms and structures within the nonprofit sector, drawing upon and contributing to the sociology of work, organizational theory, economic sociology, the study of social movements, and social psychology. Attending to interactions between levels of analysis and over time, she combines quantitative data from network analysis and surveys with interviews, field study, and ethnographic methods. Her research agenda is advanced through two main lines of inquiry.

The first line of inquiry examines the mutual influence between people’s private lives and their work. Dr. Oelberger specifically studies the work-life interface experienced by those working in nonprofit or prosocial domains, analyzing how work with a public service mission influences staff efforts at work-life balance, as well as how the micro-level experiences of staff inform organizational and field-level norms and structures. Her dissertation investigated the challenges that international aid workers experience as they pursue both meaningful work and a meaningful personal life. She also investigates these questions within the domain of family philanthropy.

The second line of inquiry examines social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and the development of new organizations and fields. The concept of a field has become institutionalized within organizational scholarship, conveying the shared norms and standards that organizations abide by in order to gain legitimacy. Dr. Oelberger examines the creation, diffusion, and maintenance of new organizational forms and fields within the prosocial domain, highlighting the influence of philanthropic investment in those processes. She is currently studying these questions through three different research projects, analyzing the rise of nonprofit performance metrics, the growth and diffusion of charter management organizations (CMOs), and network patterns of transnational grantmaking.

Dr. Oelberger’s research agenda, teaching interests, and service commitments are motivated by her experience in professional practice. She founded and led an international non-governmental organization for seven years that supports community-based, rural education in East Africa, and she continues to provide consulting support for philanthropic foundations to inform their international grantmaking. Carrie holds a PhD in Organization Studies from Stanford University, a master’s degree in sociology from Stanford University, a master’s degree in indigenous education from Victoria University (New Zealand), and a bachelor’s degree in history from Haverford College.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Courses Taught

Spring 2015

  • PA 5011 — Management of Organizations

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