The concept of “winners” has become a popular motif in the design of training programmes, especially in the area of customer service. This paper examines the case of one such training programme at “CapitalAirport”, with the purpose of understanding how the “winners” idea was experienced by employees, and exploring the implications that follow from this. The paper applies psychoanalytic concepts in the analysis of the findings, proposing that important functions of management may be analogically compared to the mother‐infant relationship. The findings suggest that the “winners” idea was experienced by employees as a denial of the truth and as involving the imposition of a distorted and dishonest image on to their work. The idea was also felt to provoke considerable envy and jealousy among the workforce. This experience was associated with unfortunate consequences for learning and development.
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