"I don't know whether you can imagine how difficult it is to change the mindset," Mueller says.

Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal prompted a commitment to improving the company's internal corporate culture, however chief executive Matthias Mueller suggests such reforms are difficult and require patience.

Critics claim a toxic hierarchical structure created the conditions that pressured workers to cheat emissions regulations and allowed the scheme to proceed unchecked for years until it was finally exposed by university researchers and regulators.

As the company attempts to put the crisis in the rearview mirror, Mueller claims not everyone is embracing the cultural changes with open arms.

"There are definitely people who are longing for the old centralistic leadership," he said at a gathering with business representatives, as quoted by Reuters. "I don't know whether you can imagine how difficult it is to change the mindset."

The executive hints at a learning curve when attempting to implement the ideal level of decentralization. The process is said to be lengthy and not free of mistakes.

"One now has to endure this ... that some things go wrong and some things remain unsuccessful while other things are successful," he added.

The comments suggest VW expects an internal cultural shift to take years. In the meantime, critics continue to claim the management structure has not yet been purged of the problems that were blamed for the diesel fiasco.