A study of innovation in credit unions

  • Musah Iddrisu

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Credit unions are important community, co-operative financial service organisations, that provide personal loans and other financial products to their local communities. Credit unions operate in a competitive market and as a result innovation is important to their sustainability. Despite this, little is understood about innovation in the sector. To address the gap in the literature, this study aims to investigate innovation in credit unions. To achieve this aim, five objectives were set including defining innovation in context, identifying the form and extent of innovation, documenting the innovation process and the sources and determinants in credit unions. To investigate the objectives, a mixed-methods methodology was adopted including survey data from credit unions in four countries including Ghana, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland and semi-structured interviews with 12 credit unions from Northern
Ireland and Ghana. The study makes a number of contributions to the literature. It is the first study to report on the range of product, service and process innovations in credit unions and to identify how these differ across countries at different stages of development. In particular, a number of ‘frugal’ innovations were noted, that are unique to the sector. It is the first study to explicitly define, measure and investigate the determinants of innovation in credit unions. Finally, it is also the first study to look inside the ‘black box’, to determine whether credit unions have a strategic approach to innovation. Consistent with ecological and stakeholder theory this study found that the regulatory environment and larger boards are determinants of innovation. In addition, size was positively associated with innovation. Therefore, this study provides support for ‘new model’ management, which advocates deregulation and mergers to achieve a large size, as this should provide additional stimulus for innovation. It also found that larger boards are more innovative; therefore, when regulators are preparing corporate governance guidance for credit unions, they should consider larger boards.
Date of AwardOct 2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnthony Wall (Supervisor) & Anne-Marie Ward (Supervisor)


  • Drivers of innovation
  • Factors influencing innovation
  • Ghana
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Ireland
  • Credit unions development framework
  • Financial innovation
  • Product innovation
  • Service innovation
  • Process innovation
  • Determinants of innovation
  • Credit unions innovation categories

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