In terms of the compulsory attendance of professional development programmes by newly appointed academics joining higher education institutions, many studies report on attendees’ experiences of the programmes and not on their value in the professional formation of "teachers". Researchers, such as Ferman (2002), Dall’Alba (2009), Ginns, Kitay and Prosser (2010) and Cilliers and Herman (2010), raise issues concerning the evaluation and impact of such developmental programmes for academics’ orientation. In a review of the relevant available literature on the effectiveness of academic training programmes Stes, Mieke and Petegem (2007) suggest that further research should be carried out to analyse the influence of induction programmes on academics’ teaching practices and on their teaching contexts. This qualitative study explored the value and contribution of an Induction Programme to the professional formation of early-career academics in a South African research-intensive higher education institution. A case study design using semi-structured interviews with early-career academics and document analysis was utilised to obtain an in-depth understanding of the growth process and the meaning early-career academics assign to their experience of the induction programme in their contexts. Wenger’s Social Theory of Learning (2009) which integrates components of meaning, identity, practice and community that characterize social participation as a process of learning and knowing, proved to be a useful approach to conceptualise the process of professional formation in this study. The study attempted to understand the dynamics of professional development and, more specifically, to explore and reach an understanding of the influence that induction has on new academics’ actions in practice and on accounts of their professional growth process within the context of a “research-intensive” university. According to preliminary findings, learning and development are neither lineal nor dependent on formal learning structures but rather that the phenomenon of formation is complex; thereby, advocating a rethink of academic staff development practice in higher education.