Credit Union mergers in Ireland
: An ethnographic investigation of emerging experiential learning

  • Kevin Johnson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This ethnographic study follows the journey of a credit union merger, and its five subsequent mergers. These mergers shaped one of Ireland’s strongest credit unions. The focus of the research is to understand if the insights that emerge during mergers are harvested by key stakeholder groups in a manner that improves the effectiveness of the process when they repeat it in subsequent mergers, that is does experiential learning occur. A majority of the insights that arise apply to the governance team of the Board of Directors and CEO, next the Regulator and then the Members. The number of insights for the respective stakeholder groups is reflective of the effort contributed by them and the proportionality of responsibility they have in the merger process. The study demonstrates the significant and varied benefits that accrue from learning by doing. This is captured in improved behaviours by the ‘Board of Directors and CEO’ and the ‘Regulator’. In particular, the study identifies how the merger experience inspires superior governance that supports difficult business decisions to be made which arise during and post the merger process. The analysis also reveals that as mergers are repeated the nature of the emerging insights increase in sophistication. The insights are employed to construct a learning model. The objective of the learning model is to create a framework within which a proposed merger (of equals) should be considered. Central to the model are members, however, it appears their priority is not as the owners of the credit union but as the consumer of its products and services.

Thesis embargoed until 31 July 2025
Date of AwardJul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorDonal McKillop (Supervisor) & Barry Quinn (Supervisor)

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