Globalisation and massification are creating significant expansion in the higher education sector in Asia and forcing institutions to professionalise their teaching. Merely implementing academic development, however, does not ensure improvement in teaching quality. We report an action research project, which demonstrated that the combination of teaching development through Teaching Advantage Global, alongside professional recognition through fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, significantly improved the teaching self-efficacy of academics in China and Hong Kong SAR. The results of this research demonstrate that professional development and recognition can support and evidence sector-wide strategic change. Copyright © 2021 Routledge.