This paper explores the strategic actions realised by firms in the pharmaceutical industry during 2001 and 2002. The purpose was to develop an empirically derived categorisation of strategic actions and grand strategies from the behaviour of firms that could be used as the basis of a methodological framework for developing understanding of strategic change. Qualitative analysis was used to identify and categorise strategic actions implemented by pharmaceutical firms. Twenty-three grand strategies were identified and are described. Implications for further research in strategy development are discussed.