Adaptation trajectories of dismissed workers: a critical case study of the Lithuanian radio-electronics sector

Zilvinas Martinaitis, Audronė Sadauskaitė, Mariachiara Barzotto

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This article explores why some dismissed workers adapt successfully to the changing structure of an economy, while others remain trapped in low-quality jobs and experience deskilling. The associated case study relies on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 50 former employees of four bankrupt radio-electronics factories in Lithuania. It is found that workers with ‘inherited’ skills that are deep and technical are able to enter high-quality jobs when new firms emerge, recombining the physical, financial and human assets of destitute factories for new productive uses. However, if such economic opportunities are scarce, workers with inherited broad skill sets are relatively more successful in transitioning to services from manufacturing. Further, in line with the literature of the sociology of work, women and older workers are found to face more acute challenges in adapting to the economic shock associated with dismissal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-684
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number3
Early online date15 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Research Council of Lithuania [S-MOD-17-20].


  • Lithuania
  • employment
  • human capital
  • skills
  • transitional economies
  • work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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