Over the last two decades, university systems world-wide have been subject to government initiated, top-down restructures in the name of greater effectiveness, accountability and quality. Within this timeframe, government interest in the university teaching has increased,and innovation and responsiveness in teaching have been increasingly prioritised by both government and university policies. Academic interest in the teaching has also increased, and much research and discussion has focused on defining teaching as a source of scholarship and expounding its role in the promotion of innovation, and in the recognition and rewarding of teaching work. In this paper I draw on a study of academics' views, which I have reported at previous AARE conferences and elsewhere, to raise questions about recent and ongoing developments in the work environment of university educators. I raise the possibility that systems and processes whose express purpose is to facilitate and support university educators' efforts to improve teaching are, in fact, inhibiting innovative practice by institutionalising an aversion to risk that is anathems to innovation.