In this article the status of teaching as a profession and the morale of teachers in Australian schools in the current era provide a framework for the examination of the intent and outcomes of teaching excellence awards. The article provides a report on a research study, which applied an interpretive research paradigm and utilised both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. Organisational and sociological paradigms are recognised as providing the underpinning theory for the study as a whole in terms of the methodology adopted as well as the theoretical framework employed in the interpretive phase. Data informing the study were collected from 44 award recipients and 57 of their colleagues between the years 2000 and 2002. Documentation relating to the promotion and process of awards was also examined. The introduction of teaching excellence awards into the school education sector is found to be a reflection of the economic era in which the current education system is situated. It is concluded that the awards process may be viewed as potentially politically manipulative.