Abstract Information elaboration enables functionally diverse teams to transform their breadth of knowledge resources into actionable solutions to complex problems. The current study advances information elaboration theory and research in two ways. First, we identify how team ability and social motivation composition characteristics provide the psychological origins of complex information processing efforts. Second, we identify environmental turbulence as an important boundary condition, clarifying when information elaboration benefits team performance and when it does not. These ideas were tested in a sample of 4-person self-managed teams (N=68) which were functionally diverse and performed a cooperative strategic decision-making task. Results indicate that cognitive ability equips teams with the “can do” ability for complex elaboration efforts through emergent team mental models, whereas low preferences for self-reliance provide the “will do” motivation for in-depth information exchange through collective leadership. In turn, teams benefited from information elaboration in turbulent but not stable environments.