The expression ‘regional development’ has entered contemporary policy discourse as if it represented a commonly understood and well-defined activity.

This paper considers the manner in which board members of state government-funded regional development agencies in New South Wales (NSW) and Western Australia (WA) describe regional development. We outline four major discourses surrounding regional development in the literature and compare these with the narratives gathered from 53 regional development board members in NSW and WA. Analysis of these semi-structured interviews suggests that board members see regional development in overlapping and coalescing discourses which inform understandings of their roles within the broader framework of regional development governance. Further, we suggest that regional development is principally driven by uncertainty and the boards are regarded, at least by those within the boardroom, as instruments of politicised activity.