Political theories in general and deliberative democracy in particular have become quite popular in business ethics over the past few years. However, the model of deliberative democracy as generally referred to in business ethics is only appropriate for conceptualizing interaction between business and society which occurs within a context which is more or less institutionalized. The model cannot account for "unregulated" interaction between business and civil society. The authors argue that scholars need to resort to the so called "critical strand" of deliberative democracy if we want to conceptualize interaction that happens without the involvement of decision-making institutions as political action in a deliberative sense. Adopting this approach allows us to identify cases in which unregulated interaction between business and civil society is preferable over institutionalization.