Within the field of implementation science there is increasing recognition of the relevance of organizational context and culture, i.e. influences beyond the individual level, for successful implementation of evidence-based nursing practices. Applying the Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), the aim of this study was to explore how the organizational culture in an emergency department in Denmark influenced nurses’ priorities with regard to the use of research. The study was designed as an ethnographic inquiry based on fieldwork and semi-structured interviews. Based on an activity system analysis, the concept of flow culture emerged. This culture is defined as a cultural–historical activity system, mediated by artefacts, in which the objective of the nursing staff is primarily to free up beds, thus ensuring a flow of patients. A flow culture leads to a strong focus on securing vacant beds which impeded the nurses’ use of research in everyday clinical practice.