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Democratizing Software Development: A Systematic Multivocal Literature Review and Research Agenda on Citizen Development

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Part of the Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing book series (LNBIP,volume 463)


While the ongoing digital transformation is boosting the demand for digital solutions and digital skills, organizations worldwide experience a shortage of IT professionals and particularly software developers. At the same time, the increasing prevalence of low-code development platforms (LCDP) allows organizations to introduce citizen development initiatives to promote and accelerate their digital transformations. Citizen development represents a novel software engineering paradigm which enables and supports the development of software by non-IT professionals, consequently referred to as ‘citizen developers’. While there is a vivid discourse on citizen development in the practice community, research on this phenomenon is still scarce. We conducted a systematic multivocal literature review including research and practice publications, and identified six key themes: 1) definition and characteristics of citizen development, 2) enablers and expected benefits of citizen development, 3) challenges of and criticism towards citizen development, 4) citizen development strategy and implementation, 5) citizen development governance, and 6) citizen developers’ profiles and skills. Moreover, we propose a research agenda for future work on citizen development. Our research contribution is to synthesize the existing knowledge on citizen development and to point out future avenues to propel research on this emerging and contemporary phenomenon.


  • Citizen development
  • Citizen developer
  • Technology democratization
  • Low-code development platforms
  • Multivocal literature review

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-20706-8_17
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Fig. 1.
Fig. 2.


  1. 1.

    In line with Di Ruscio et al. [15], we consider LCDPs and so-called no-code development platforms interchangeably and refer only to the term LCDP in this study.

  2. 2.

    [32] provide an extended and more detailed overview of these 79 articles.

  3. 3.

    In ACM Digital Library we used a non-wildcard search string: [All: “citizen development”] OR [All: “citizen developer”] OR [All: “citizen developers”].

  4. 4.

    We used MS Excel for literature analysis and the follow-up theme synthesis procedure.


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Binzer, B., Winkler, T.J. (2022). Democratizing Software Development: A Systematic Multivocal Literature Review and Research Agenda on Citizen Development. In: Carroll, N., Nguyen-Duc, A., Wang, X., Stray, V. (eds) Software Business. ICSOB 2022. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, vol 463. Springer, Cham.

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