If you were to go only by the placement records of the top 10 odd business schools in the country, you would never think that economic growth has been slowing down for over a year now. The best B-schools - the top 50 or so - manage to place their students at good salaries year after year, whether the economy is booming or in a depressed state.
Go lower down the list and the economic conditions start showing a far greater impact on the placement records. In good years, no one has a placement problem. In years when the economy is not doing great, securing 100 per cent campus placements - and at decent salaries - becomes a big slog, barring few exceptions.
However, placement records alone do not define which one is a good B-school and which one is an also-ran. The problem is that it takes years of great teaching and facilities and innovation to build a reputation. Once you have built your reputation, it is hard to lose it unless you do something spectacularly foolish. But there are also a great many good B-schools which teach very well and have all the requisite infrastructure in place, but have not yet made a mark with HR managers of big companies.
While on the subject of placements, B-schools not only have to worry about the economy but also about the other changes - technological and otherwise - that are gathering pace. Technology changes affect the job market, but more importantly, change market dynamics in a host of sectors. And B-schools need to teach their students about how to cope with these new dynamics. Apart from technology, two other trends have been gathering steam in the past few years. The first is the advent of start-ups, and many B-schools now try to teach how to become an entrepreneur (or at least, how to prepare for a start-up environment which is completely different from big company systems). I say "try" because it is impossible to teach entrepreneurship to someone who does not have an entrepreneurial mindset. On the other hand, someone who has the flair for entrepreneurship can be taught about mistakes to avoid, and trained to do the right things.
The second big trend is the demand for family business management courses. Managing a family business which has grown under a certain ethos is very different from working in, say, a multinational company. Many schools have started special courses to equip second generation and third generation of family-run businesses on how to take the next steps.