This paper argues that people's careers have great personal significance for them and energise much organisational activity, but that in the context of organisations and management they often appear irrelevant. Contrasting career metaphors are used to show how careers develop through tensions between organisational and social structure, and individual agency. The findings of a New Zealand research study show how new flexibilities and ambiguities in economic and organisation structures result in people developing careers which, like the Australasian “Big O.E.” institution, are mobile, improvisational, and learning-based. A reflexive model is used to show how careers can create organisations as well as vice versa. The implications of new career theories for workers, managers and management educators are indicated. Greater appreciation of career dynamics results in the subversion of some traditional management ideas and the development of new models of self- and organisational management.