Volkswagen AG

is betting that a reformed compliance culture and an expanded whistleblower program that helped the German car maker clear a critical U.S. regulatory milestone this month will also help prevent another scandal and go a long way in restoring its reputation.

The car maker has spent the past few years trying to resolve issues related to its 2015 admission that it rigged about 11 million of its diesel vehicles world-wide with software to dodge government emissions tests, a revelation that came after U.S. regulators alleged that Volkswagen installed software to make cars appear to run cleaner.

The company says its yearslong, multipronged transformation and ongoing surveillance are essential to its survival. Getting that point across to employees is easier when you can put a price tag on noncompliance: €32 billion ($37.56 billion) in fines, penalties and compensation to customers, said Hiltrud D. Werner, the member of Volkswagen’s board of management in charge of compliance, risk management and legal affairs.

“Then you can explain, ‘Look, we don’t want another scandal. We cannot survive another scandal,’ ” she said in an interview.

Some investors and analysts say they remain cautious about whether the kind of cultural transformation described by the company can be fully realized in a global enterprise with more than 600,000 people.

“You can’t guarantee a change of culture,” said Philippe Houchois, an analyst at Jefferies Financial Group Inc. “It’s not up to the regulators to change the aspect of governance; it’s up to shareholders to decide if they are happy with the governance or not.”

For Volkswagen, it has been a long journey from when the emissions scandal first surfaced. At that time, it took the German car