Credit unions, the cooperatives started by the people to serve the people, have experienced tremendous growth, success, and challenge since their inception in the mid-19th century. While the overall number of members and assets are growing, the physical number of credit unions is decreasing due to mergers or insolvency, keeping market share stagnant for the past 20 years. As with all organizations, succession planning is essential to ensure a future. Considering a conceptual foundation including stakeholder theory and succession planning, the purpose of this qualitative study was to better understand how succession planning is utilized by CEOs of credit unions today, what impedes credit unions from succession planning and leadership development, as well as what tools or resources are needed within the industry to either build or enhance the succession planning efforts. Based on in-depth interviews with eight current CEO’s, findings revealed that succession planning is happening more frequently in large credit unions than previous research noted. CEOs are committed to their stakeholders and to the industry and are driving this process in their credit unions, they believe developing leaders is their main role, and they see succession planning as a competitive advantage because of the results it generates. To make the process successful, the CEOs are utilizing consultants, incorporating a variety of activities, focusing on innovation and technology, and challenging the talent management status quo. The CEOs did not believe suggested impediments from previous research were accurate. Rather, they believed that intrinsic factors got in the way including excuses, basic human nature and egos. To truly revolutionize the industry and gain market share, the CEOs shared that many strategies including hiring practices must change. It is recommended that credit union leaders and directors become knowledgeable on succession planning and its benefits, connect strategic planning with talent management, and remove intrinsic obstacles to most effectively give back to their stakeholders. Additional research on smaller credit unions and their succession planning efforts, recruiting and hiring tactics for credit union CEOs, and the prioritization of succession planning, strategic planning, and financial results is needed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Credit unions -- Management; Executive succession -- Planning; Leadership -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Davis, Kay D.;