Chapter 14: Common assumptions and co-operative membership: the case of the Irish credit union movement
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The focus of this chapter is to explore a number of common credit union assumptions which appear to be widely held both within and outside the credit union movement. These assumptions are ones which are primarily related to member behaviour and attitudes, namely, members' interest in volunteering, what the member values, their openness to mergers, their interest in credit union ethos and openness to a local economic development scope for credit unions. Over the years, as a credit union volunteer, researcher and policy advisor, the author has constantly come across these assumptions and the unquestioning acceptance of them, both in the credit union literature and in praxis. The purpose of this chapter is to explore their validity. This is particularly important at the current time, as these assumptions are informing key strategic decisions in the Irish credit union movement. The assumptions discussed in this chapter revolve around how the co-operative and others view the role of the member. This particularly ties into the first research question set out in this book, which examines the role of the member in the development and direction of a co-operative, and the second research question on member value. The chapter first sets out a context for the study through a brief discussion on the nature and definition of assumptions.

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