The Gray Zone: Resources to Foster Ethical Decision-Making Skills

Nov 17, 2022

Welcome to The Gray Zone—that hazy, murky space between black and white, right and wrong. Despite its mysterious name, you’ve likely spent a great deal of time in the gray zone, navigating challenging ethical dilemmas that don’t have an easy answer.

In fact, most people have spent time in this space. Ethical dilemmas are all around us. Whether we’re business professionals or high school students, it’s important that we learn how to unpack and walk through these dilemmas confidently and competently.

The good news? We’ve got just the resources to help!

Resources for Your Classroom

Whether in the form of a classic case study or a new interactive episode, our Gray Zone ethical dilemmas offer educators an opportunity to help students see that business decisions are not always black and white. After all, thinking on your feet is critical in business (and in DECA competitions!). Gray Zones help students get comfortable with quickly analyzing a situation and voicing an educated conclusion.

Classic Case Studies

Our Learning Activity Packages (LAPs) are comprehensive, ready-to-use lesson plans designed to help make your classroom preparation easy, fast, and relevant. Each one contains a Gray Zone, an ethical case study that gives students the opportunity to work through a dilemma relevant to the LAP topic (e.g., cash flow statements, distribution channels, nature of risk management).

Here’s an example: Stella, a salesperson at an electronics store, is helping a customer who needs a new cell phone and contract. After she explains all the options, the customer says they need something a bit cheaper and more flexible than what Stella’s business can offer. Stella knows that a competing business can give the customer what they’re looking for. What should Stella do?

We’ve created a Gray Zone for every LAP—which means there are hundreds of Gray Zones available to help teach your students ethical decision-making. These are available on the State's Connection portal at no cost to educators who teach in states that are members of the MBA Research consortium. Over 70 LAPs (and their Gray Zones) are also available FREE to all educators regardless of state membership, thanks to the Daniels Fund.

New Interactive Video Series

Our new video-based Gray Zone series gives educators another way to introduce students to ethical dilemmas. Each activity, or episode, begins with an ethical dilemma, then uses “choose your own adventure” style gameplay to give students the opportunity to work through the dilemmas themselves. Additional discussion questions are included with each episode.

The Gray Zone interactive series is perfect for:

  • Small group or whole class discussion
  • Reflective writing prompts
  • Lesson plans for substitutes

Three interactive Gray Zone episodes have been released, with more on the way. Each episode is available on our website for free!

We offer multiple opportunities to help your students understand that the business world—and all other aspects of life—includes many shades of gray. Enhance your instruction using our classic case studies, interactive video series, or both!

Learn More

Through the generous support of the Daniels Fund, a foundation in Denver, Colorado supporting principle-based ethics, we are able to provide free ethics education resources at the middle school, high school, and community college/postsecondary levels in schools across the nation.

Our work with the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative High School Program has enabled us to develop myriad instructional resources, including the following:

  • Ethical Leadership Course Package
  • Ethics Certification
  • Ethics Books & Movies List
  • Ethics Boot Camp
  • Ethical Principles Video Series
  • ...And More!

To date, our ethics resources have reached over two million students across all 50 states plus 14 countries! Visit our website to access all of our free ethics materials and to learn more about our relationship with the Daniels Fund. We are humbled to be part of such an exciting and important initiative.


MBA Research & Curriculum Center

MBA Research and Curriculum Center is dedicated to supporting educators in the preparation of students for careers in the areas of business management, finance, marketing, hospitality management, and entrepreneurship. Established in 1971, we are a not-for-profit operated and governed by a consortium of state education departments.

Discussion Questions

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Classroom Connection

Career CLuster:

Instructional Area(s):

Performance Indicators:

Model ethical behavior
Describe the nature of ethics
Recognize and respond to ethical dilemmas