In this paper I briefly present a normative theory of social institutions (organisations or systems of organisations, e.g. governments, legal firms, hospitals, police services, universities, business corporations, the financial system) according to which social institutions exist to produce (or maintain or renew) collective goods.
A collective good, on my account, is a jointly produced good that is, and ought to be, available to the whole community since the members of the community have a joint right to it.
An obvious (apparent) counter-example to this view are business organisations operating in competitive markets. I attempt to deal with this putative counter-example and, in so doing, focus on financial service providers in the context of the current global financial crisis.