He is known for his concept of chorology, the study of places and regions, a concept that influenced both Carl O. Sauer and Richard Hartshorne. Apart from Europe, his fieldwork concentrated mainly on Colombia, Chile and Russia.
Alfred Hettner, who obtained his PhD from the University of Strasbourg, was also a pupil of Ferdinand von Richthofen and Friedrich Ratzel in Leipzig—where he obtained his habilitation. His book Europe was published in 1907. According to him, geography is a chorological science or it is a study of regions. Hettner rejected the view that geography could be either general or regional. Geography like other fields of learning must deal in both the unique things (regional geography) and with universal (general geography), but the study of regions — especially in the form of his Länderkunde approach — is the main field of geography. Hettner supervised, among others, the PhDs of Oskar Schmieder, Friedrich Metz and Heinrich Schmitthenner.
- Methodische Zeit- und Streitfragen, in: Geographische Zeitschrift, Bd. 29 (1923), S. 49-50
- Die Geographie, ihre Geschichte, ihr Wesen und ihre Methoden, Breslau, 1927