An exploratory study on the role of intermediaries in delivering public services in Madinah city case of Saudi Arabia
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The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of the intermediary in delivering public services from government departments to different stakeholders (business and citizens) and to highlight the challenges that face the development of e-government services in the context of Madinah City, in Saudi Arabia. Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses a broad literature review to identify significant factors that contribute to e-government adoption and diffusion success. These factors are then used as a basis for analyzing the findings from a case study that focuses on the concept of intermediaries for e-government service delivery in Saudi Arabia. To investigate a less-recognized phenomenon, such as the use of intermediaries in e-government contexts, the authors adopt a qualitative case study approach to gain further understating. This method allowed examining the phenomenon in its natural settings through employing multiple methods of data collection. Further, it gave the researchers enough room to get a closer look at the reasons behind introducing the intermediary concept in the e-government context and provided considerable flexibility during interviews and observations. Findings – The results of this paper indicate that digital divide and poor infrastructure to conduct payments (secure transactions) for e-government services was hindering citizens’ adoption of e-services in Saudi Arabia. Thus, the intermediary concept was facilitating citizens’ access to e-government services and helping to reduce the digital divide in Saudi Arabia. The findings also show that intermediaries helped in increasing the availability of e-government services. Additionally, this paper finds that trust between the service provider (government) and service requester (citizens and businesses) is an important factor that influences not only e-government adoption and diffusion, but also the role of electronic intermediary (e-offices) in facilitating this adoption. Originality/value – The authors take into account the most salient adoption factors when introducing e-government systems. Electronic intermediaries may help to enhance the understating and analysis of those adoption factors in government settings and facilitate government departments in realizing the importance of intermediaries’ role in e-government contexts. Furthermore, this paper significantly contributes to the knowledge and practice of e-government adoption and diffusion and provides sufficient support to decision makers in expediting e-government adoption and diffusion.