Ethical Business and the Development of Civil Society: one introduction ABSTRACT: The great changes taking place in our complex society have inevitably called for businesses to act decisively to modify their role, a role that finds its strength in the growing interdependence which exists between businesses and society on the whole. The business objective must combine competitiveness and sustainability and in this context Corporate Social Responsibility becomes one of the most important governing objectives of a business. Corporate Social Responsibility is not some unreal, utopian ideal: on the contrary, it represents a real strategic component of business management, capable of ensuring long-term advantages for the business. Alongside actual codes of conduct which have institutionalized Corporate Social Responsibility, a new business culture has emerged: a culture which combines the factors of production and management with those of ethics. In this way, along with their economic responsibility, businesses have also assumed a social and political responsibility in the process of change and development which our society is living through.