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Putting members in the centre: examining credit union accountability as member-based social enterprises

Antonius Sumarwan (School of Accountancy, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia and Master of Management, Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia)
Belinda Luke (School of Accountancy, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Craig Furneaux (The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 29 March 2021

Issue publication date: 16 July 2021




This paper aims to explore how accountability to members is practised within credit unions. In particular, this study examines formal and informal practices and underlying approaches regarding accountability to members.


Adopting a case study approach, this study explores accountability within two credit unions in the lightly-regulated context of Indonesia through focus group discussions with credit union practitioners and documentary analysis.


Findings reveal both credit unions prioritised accountability to members for financial and social performance, underpinned by a socialising, relational approach and driven by a strong sense of social mission. Various mechanisms were adopted to directly address accountability to and empowerment of members, facilitating their participation and education. Further, several mechanisms of and approaches to accountability to other stakeholders indirectly enhanced the credit unions’ accountability to members.

Research limitations/implications

This study highlights the interrelated nature of credit unions’ accountability mechanisms to members. Further, empowerment through participation, education and small business development, suggests valuable investment in members’ social, intellectual and financial capital.


This study examines the socialising nature of accountability to credit union members and other stakeholders to support members’ interests, providing insights into how third sector organisations more broadly might enhance accountability to those the organisation seeks to serve.



The authors would like to acknowledge the support provided by the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan/LPDP).

Disclosure Statement. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Funding. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Ethical approval. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of institutional and national research committee (Queensland University of Technology’s University of Human Research Ethics Committee (UHEC), approval number 1700000683) and with the 1664 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

UHREC meets the requirements of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007).

Informed consent. Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.


Sumarwan, A., Luke, B. and Furneaux, C. (2021), "Putting members in the centre: examining credit union accountability as member-based social enterprises", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 228-254.



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