The article reports on an investigation into constraining and enabling conditions for professional academic development with regard to the teaching role at eight South African universities. The data comprised interviews with 10 – 16 interview transcripts with academics across a range of levels of seniority, demographic categories and disciplines. These have been analysed according to a set of categories agreed upon by a research team, and collated in eight institutional case study reports. The findings show, firstly, that conditions which enable and constrain teaching enhancement are far broader than the formal provision of professional development opportunities, and include factors such as organisational climate, infrastructure and resources. The data suggests that various ‘lenses’ including critical realism, socio-cultural approaches and socio-material approaches all have analytic value, but none are sufficient on their own, to provide a full account of what constrains and enables the enhancement of teaching and learning.