Regional science seeks to enrich the multifaceted social science research domain by coping with ̶ and addressing explicitly ̶ the often prevailing, but clearly restrictive assumption of a ‘wonderland of no spatial dimensions’ in the traditional social sciences. It started in the 1950s from a dedicated and convincing scientific mission, in which the impact of spatial opportunities on, and obstacles to, regional and urban development and of spatial interactions assumed a central place.
The analytical focus through which these phenomena were investigated – usually from a multidisciplinary and evidence-based orientation – formed a distinct, prominent and recognised feature of regional science in comparison to established disciplines, such as geography, political science, urban and regional planning, transportation science, environmental science, etc.
For many spatial science researchers, regional science is not their original and only discipline, but it is often complementary to their initial and single ‘home discipline’. The degree of ‘self-identity’ of regional science – or the spatial sciences in general – is generally rather low. In essence, regional science is an amalgam of various disciplinary approaches with a core focus on space. This key characteristic has an indigenous strength due to its ability to build bridges between various approaches, but also reflects a weakness, in that a uniform or broadly accepted theoretical and methodological framework is lacking.