The AEO status as a source of competitive advantage

Thierry Houé (Department of Supply Chain Management and Information Systems, ICN Business School – University of Lorraine, CEREFIGE, Metz, France)
Eileen Murphy (Department of Supply Chain Management and Information Systems, ICN Business School – University of Lorraine, CEREFIGE, Metz, France)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Publication date: 13 August 2018



Faced with increasing competition, the ability to secure and optimise global logistics operations should be regarded as a competitive advantage. In the context of the hitherto little explored field of security and safety programmes, the purpose of this paper is to examine how an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) certificate may affect the creation of a competitive edge for a freight forwarder.


By using the resource-based view as a theoretical background and a qualitative analysis using an interview grid inspired by the balanced scorecard, this research identifies resources and capabilities linked to the AEO certification.


The findings show two specific groups of resources that contribute to the creation of a competitive advantage. The first category is a process-type resource obtained through the AEO certification, which leads to more formalised and better-executed processes. The second relates to the freight forwarder’s knowledge, know-how and relational skills.

Research limitations/implications

This research is developed in a logistics service provider context. It should be equally applied in other contexts and with other methods to provide generalisability.

Practical implications

Considering its contribution to an area of study currently under research, the findings may be useful to practitioners as a decision support tool to assess the value of the AEO certification.


This paper comes in the context of a yet little explored field, despite practitioners’ questions about custom certifications.



Houé, T. and Murphy, E. (2018), "The AEO status as a source of competitive advantage", European Business Review, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 591-606.

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