When Elephants Fly
– Customs Leadership and Management in a Globalized World

Why write a book about leadership and management? It is a good question since every year there are about 10.000 new leadership and management books published in the world. Still, there are no books about Customs leadership and management. One thing that I have found out working with capacity building for more than twenty years and visiting 169 countries and Customs administrations around the world, is that the two single most important factors to be successful in capacity building, reform and modernization are “political will” and “leadership”. Leadership and the ability to manage our organizations – our future – is something that we can develop through capacity building. In fact I believe that building the ability to lead, understand and manage reform and modernization is the most important part of capacity building. We live in the age of globalization and this is something that has an impact on our lives every day. One of the areas where the changes driven by globalization have the greatest impact is the global trade system. This is where customs per definition works, so the consequences of globalization have an influence over our environment. What does that mean for us as customs leaders and the management of our organizations? This is a practical book where I give my personal view on leadership with guidance and advice on how to lead, take decisions and solve problems based on my own knowledge and experience from my leadership career. It is also an interview book sharing the views of outstanding internationally highly respected and successful customs leaders, about leadership and management in a globalized world.


The Stairway,
Management of an Authorised Secure Supply Chain. Capacity Building for a Customs Environment in a Changing World

by Lars Karlsson.
ISBN 91-631-6872-3

The Stairway was the first AEO and Trusted Trader programme ever developed and implemente d. It is still considered as one of the best models in the world ever. The Stairway Concept has been operational for more than a decade. New versions, new countries and applications are developed and implemented continuously.

The Stairway concept was the inspiration for many similar programmes like the EU AEO model and the U.S. C T-PAT programme. It also became the basis for the international standard developed under SAFE Framework of Standard. In addition the Stairway Concept, and its security model StairSec, shaped the first Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA).

Today there are similar models for accreditation of Authorised Economic Operators in all parts of the world. It is now time to introduce an international accreditation programme with mutual recognition of Authorised Economic Operators. An international system with possibilities to connect different compatible accreditation concepts has every chance of being a global success.

The book, “The Stairway, Management of an Authorised Secure Supply Chain. Capacity Building for a Customs Environment in a Changing World”, presents how the system and model was designed, developed and implemented. It explains how an authorised secure supply chain works and how to implement it. This is still the only book in the world presenting the basic philosophy and practical ways to make an AEO programme work as a win-win concept for both Government and Trade. The book has so far been distributed in more than 14.000 copies. It is also available an e-book.
You can have it sent to you by sending us your name and address to the email address here.


Articles by Lars Karlsson have been published in academic and scientific publications all around the world, including in the prestigious World Customs Journal and the Homeland Security Affairs Journal.

These articles can be ordered and provided upon requests.

Here are some examples:

Lines, Flows and Transnational Crime: Toward a Revised Approach to Countering the Underworld of Globalization

Back to the future of Customs: A new AEO paradigm will transform the global supply chain for the better

Smart Borders for a Smart Future: Smarter, faster, safer and more predictable